10 pro tips for photographing your best friend in the great outdoors

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Photo: Courtesy of Terran Bayer

Award-winning professional pet photographer Terran Bayer knows a thing or two about capturing best friends on film.

“Going on adventures with my pup is my favorite thing ever,” Bayer says. “I love when it’s just us in the great outdoors — no cell coverage, no internet, no social media — just peace and quiet to recharge and have fun together.”

As a photographer, though, her desire to create amazing images can’t be turned off. “Beautiful light, the perfect spot, untouched landscapes — I have a deep need to photograph them, so I always carry a camera,” she says.

Bayer shares some of her favorite tricks of the trade with guests at her family’s Skye Valley Ranch in San Diego. A 24-hour “pet portrait experience” is reserved for her most outdoorsy clients and comes with overnight camping at the 800-acre private ranch, surrounded by national forest, plus a full-on photography session, chuck-wagon dinner and hearty country breakfast.

While that all sounds dreamy, we got Bayer to give up some of her goods — tips for capturing your pooch in the wild — right here:

Fields

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Photo: Courtesy of Terran Bayer

There is just something about the visual feeling of tall grass. I don’t know what it is, but I’m always drawn to it.

It makes for some stunning images framed by the foreground. But be sure to watch out for snakes and ticks, and if it’s a field, be respectful and don’t go traipsing without permission.

Flowers

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Photo: Courtesy of Terran Bayer

I love to add some color to my photos. A great way to do that is with flowers.

Photograph your pup next to them, behind them, or right in the middle of them. Look for ones with rich hues or interesting textures.

Logs, Stumps and Rocks

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Photo: Courtesy of Terran Bayer

Dogs of all shapes and sizes appear extra adventurous on top of the perfect perch.

Make sure your pup is comfortable on the log, stump or rock first — don’t force it. Reward them with treats and never put them somewhere so high or dangerous that they could get injured.

Trees

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Photo: Courtesy of Terran Bayer

Don’t be afraid to step back and show the landscape a little, especially if you have something incredible — like giant oak trees — that you want to show off.

Think about how to frame your canine in the image to create attention-grabbing composition.

Textures

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Photo: Courtesy of Terran Bayer

There are interesting textures all around: rocks, trees, leaves, grasses, weathered wood structures, old tin siding, rusty barrels and so much more.

You just have to look. Consider textures that complement your pup’s natural features.

Action

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Photo: Courtesy of Terran Bayer

What dog doesn’t love to run free in the great outdoors?

Throw toys or sticks and photograph your pup running around with a big, happy grin. For action shots, look for backgrounds that aren’t too busy so the photo’s focus will be on the animal.

Found Objects

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Photo: Courtesy of Terran Bayer

Old farm equipment or broken-down vintage trucks add so much character to a photo. However don’t sacrifice safety to capture that perfect photo.

Watch out for broken glass, sharp points or anything that could cause your pup illness or injury.

Silhouettes

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Photo: Courtesy of Terran Bayer

Whether you’re facing ominous clouds of doom or enjoying the most beautiful sunset you’ve ever seen, try a silhouette of your dog against the sky. I promise, it will be epic.

Sunset

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Photo: Courtesy of Terran Bayer

Speaking of sunsets, this is my favorite time of day to shoot. Everything turns golden and is set ablaze by the late afternoon light.

Try filtering the light through some trees to create the most incredible colors you’ve ever seen.

Stars

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Photo: Courtesy of Terran Bayer

My favorite part about camping and being far away from the city is the night sky. Putting a puppy underneath it just makes it that much more endearing.

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