Would you love to learn how to take scroll stopping photos of your pet?
To celebrate having fun with your dog while attracting fans and potentially clients too?
Liz Gregg is a professional photographer and creator of the Instagram @blackwhite.gold account.
The adventures of Elsa, Jeannie and Dolly have led to her being featured by Instagram three times and 45,000 followers. (correct at time of writing)
In this episode Liz shares loads of tips on how to take better photos of your dog, her passion for sharing positive reinforcement training and how she started out in her granny’s cupboard.
You can listen in on the player link below or carry on reading as a blog post.
About Liz Gregg
Liz started her career as a photographer back in the 1990s and her first images were processed in a makeshift dark room she created in her granny’s cupboard.
This was before social media, online and digital, and determined Liz would go to magazines like Sugar and Mizz with her portfolio and badger for work.
Fast forward more than 20 years and she now has dozens of clients at lifestyle magazines and newspapers.
She’s been featured in newspapers all over the world for her Snap Catch project, where she shoots dogs catching treats.
You can see her work on her press page here at www.photosbylizzie.co.uk
Starting out on Instagram
Liz was working on a commission for Cosmopolitan magazine in 2017 where she was helping a writer turn her sister’s dog into an influencer.
You can read the article here: Famous in 30 days
The project involved setting up an Instagram account and trying to build up a following, and Liz decided to create one too.
She started photographing her two dogs Elsa, an 11-year-old Golden Retriever and Jeannie, seven, who is a Border Collie, Poodle and Toy Poodle cross and her friend’s dog Dolly, 11, a Cocker Spaniel.
The account was all about dogs having fun and a way for her to share images of the dogs – and who doesn’t love that?
Liz said: “Doing the feature was really interesting and I thought, ‘Why not do one with the dogs?’
“I had this huge library of photos I could use, then I became addicted to taking photos of them every day.
“It means the account is fresh and most of the photos you see will have been taken that morning.”
Liz says one of the messages she wants to share is about the importance of positive training
She has a lot of followers in America, where more traditional and aversive methods are still commonplace.
And she is on a mission to educate owners that dogs can have a good time and be well behaved.
She explained: “I love taking pictures of the dogs being dogs and having fun.
“But what I also want to show is how to positively reinforce and train your dogs and what a great time they have when they’ve been trained in in a positive and happy way.
“They are willing and happy to do these little shoots for me. And in between times they play, they’re off lead, they have 100 per cent recall.
“And they’re really confident, well adjusted, well socialised dogs and I like the account to show that.
“In America, a lot of dogs aren’t trained with positive reinforcement.
“There’s things like prong collars and electric collars that are still used which I don’t agree with.
“So that’s one of the main things that I want the account to show – for people to have a good time watching the dogs have a good time.”
Liz is also working with Canine Arthritis Management to educate followers around senior dogs
Elsa and Dolly are both 11 and Liz says she was over the moon to be asked if they would like to CAMbassadogs for Canine Arthritis Management.
Figures show 35 per cent of dogs over the age of one have arthritis and Dolly was diagnosed with the condition a couple of years ago.
She said: “Although not diagnosed, Elsa does sometimes get a bit stiff and creaky and I wanted to support CAM.
“They provide some amazing resources to help owners and professionals, and it’s important to show how you can exercise and train a senior dog in a way that doesn’t impact on their health.
“With balls for example, the message is not to keep throwing and throwing a ball, but to turn it into a game.
“They don’t have to chase, chase, chase and be constantly pounding their joints on the pavement.
“We play sniffing games with the ball and do different things to show the kind of activities you can do with a senior dog.”
Liz says you can teach an old dog new tricks
She would love to see more people using photography as a way to have fun with their dogs and to help with training.
Playing with your dog and being the most fun person in their world can help you bond and improve recall and other skills.
Liz says: “You can train a dog forever. Elsa learned a new trick the other day and she’s 11.
“People can be too eager to get training over with but it’s the process that’s important.
“Learning the actual trick is helping you build a relationship and making them understand that you are so much fun.
“You want them to think, ‘Let’s hang out. Let’s go on walks. When you shout come. I am running back. Because what have you got planned for us now?’
“For me, that’s how you teach recall, because your dog is going to find you just fascinating and amazing and want to come sprinting back.”
Liz says the easiest photo trick you can do with your dog is the ‘Snap Catch.’
Her Snap Catch photos have been featured all over the world, and she gets the shots by tossing a treat towards the dog and capturing the moment they catch it.
While she has kit worth thousands to help and often a studio, she says with a bit of planning and a decent smartphone, it can be achieved.
She says: “Do it outside and make sure it’s a nice bright day, that’s the only technical thing you need to know.
“Then get your dog sitting in front of you, really close, just a couple couple of feet away and hold your camera in your right hand if you’re right handed, or your left if you’re left.
“Focus the camera on their face and the trick is to time the catching of the treat with the taking of the photo.
“So you’re going to throw the treat straight into their mouth, not above their head, straight into the mouth.
“As you do that, you take the photo a few times to get it right, because there is often a wee bit of a delay and the timing of the delay is different on different cameras.
“So you have to work out by looking at each photo as you take it if you’ve been too quick or slow. And slowly you will get the timing right with your dog and with the camera that you’re using.”
Liz says she would love to see people’s Snap Catch photos
She’s going on a tour of the UK when lockdown ends, taking her cameras and capturing Snap Catch images.
And if groups of pet owners would like to get together to book a shoot, having Liz capture their pups for groups of between eight and ten is just £60 each.
Each participant gets:
* a 45 minute photo session of your one or two dogs
* one A4 print (21cm x 29.7cm, 8.27 x 11.69in), fully retouched and printed on fine art archival paper
* a jpeg file of your chosen image for you to share on social media
The cost per person (for their one or two dogs) is £60
All you need is a dog friendly location, so daycare centres are ideal, and Liz brings her portrait studio to you.
If you’d like to book in, once you have a group together, you can arrange the shoot on Liz’s website.
All the details are at www.photosbylizzie.co.uk/snap-catch
Links mentioned in this episode:
Liz’s website: www.photosbylizzie.co.uk
Liz’s Instagram account: www.instagram.com/blackwhite.gold/
Silvia Trickman’s website: www.lolabuland.com/
If you enjoyed this post, you might like to read Hannah Capon on working with pet professionals as the new Influencers or How to take photos of your dog for National Dog Photography Day with Kerry Jordan