Karen B. London
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This Dog is Not Photogenic
I’m not sure why I care
She's even cuter in real life!

I am dogsitting again for Schultzie, an incredibly lovely dog about whom I have expressed my great love. There are so many wonderful qualities in this dog, but being photogenic is not among them. She is incredibly adorable in person, but her charm simply does not come across in pictures. This bums me out, but it’s hard to explain why it matters to me at all.

As a behaviorist, I know very well the value of a dog whose behavior makes her a joy to be around. What a dog looks like is not what’s most important to me. In fact, I’m a huge champion of choosing a dog whose behavior you like and then learning to love what that dog looks like. (This would probably not be a bad idea in our relationships with people either, but that’s a whole different can of worms.)

With Schultzie’s appearance not translating well to pictures, I’ve given a lot of thought to why I care. I think that the fact that Schultzie is not photogenic bothers me because I adore this dog and I want others to see her in the best possible light, and pictures that don’t do her justice fail in that attempt.

Do you have a dog who is not photogenic, and if so, how do you feel about that?


Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

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Submitted by Melissa O | July 3 2012 |

I have 2 of the sweetest dogs, an Eskimo mix and a dachshund. I love them equally, but I have more pics of the Eskimo because she's the photogenic one. My dox moves, blinks, licks her lips, always something. So I never get anything good. So my photo album looks like I favor one over the other.

Submitted by miss tj gadget | July 9 2012 |

Try a simple point and shoot digital camera on the "action/children" setting and take your photos outdoors.... Let me know if this works for you. :0)

Submitted by Anonymous | December 27 2012 |

Catch her on camera doing what she loves!! Action or auto setting. Focus mostly on her face. The flash might be less worrisome for her outside and you might have better light. Take lots of shots from different angles and you might get one you like. Catching more than what most people "see" with a camera isn't unlike catching and writing words or reading dogs. Another tool for learning to "see."

Submitted by Shirley Zindler | July 4 2012 |

I do a lot of rescue and try to take appealing photos of the dogs in order to find them forever homes. Two of my own rescued dogs are black, which is notoriously hard to photograph, but still surprisingly photogenic. Experimenting with lighting, backgrounds and different settings is helpful. Try a colorful collar, different angles and positions too. Sometimes an open-mouth pant is appealling as well. I had one sweet little foster dog who was a plain brown girl who I couldnt get a good photo of. I'm not usually a big fan of clothes on dogs but it was winter and she was chilly so I put a little pink sweater on her. She looked adorable and I took a photo which really did her justice. She was a adopted soon after.

Submitted by Carolyn | July 4 2012 |

I feel for the less-than-photogenic animals up for adoption. Unfortunately, good looks are what attract most of us in the first place, whether in people or animals!

Submitted by Anonymous | November 20 2012 |

I'm not all that photogenic either! But that is a cute doggie. With a bit of coaching and use of squeaky, maybe you can get her to show more animation? Or some live action? But some dogs just don't like their picture taken. My best to Shultzie!

Submitted by Hany Hosny | December 5 2012 |

I photograph (lots and lots) of shelter dogs, so you can imagine that I run into dogs who don't present well on camera because of their emotional states (in a constant state of over-arousal, in a state of depression, etc., etc. Couple this with being modestly photogenic and you have a real hard sell.

I put together a list of tips (this list is for owners) that you might find useful:



Submitted by Jennifer Hahn | April 13 2013 |

And ..action:) a happy action is a cameras dream. sitting and staring does not speak to the observer, to the heart.
I too feel for animals waiting to be rescued-afraid, sad, etc. and then expected to be "cute for the camera". Surprise shots -not planned are always best; thats why my camera is always on and around my neck. i wish too that humans felt 1st then saw 2nd.

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