You know those photos you like so hard on Instagram? The ones where it feels like you're staring directly into the dog's soul and can hear their inner monologue? Well, Marjan Stevens knows how to take those kinds of pictures. The photographer behind Dawgs of New York and native New Yorker started taking shots of random pups on the street a few years ago, and found that he was rediscovering the city he's always lived in through that canine lens. "I love seeing how the demographics of dogs change from Brooklyn to uptown," he says. "My photos became a journal of sorts, documenting their stories." We asked Stevens to share his tips for capturing a dog's true spirit...before they get distracted by a passing taxi.
Get set up before you shoot
Yes, the new iPhone7 camera is awesome. But if you're serious about getting a great shot, invest in a DSLR camera like the Nikon one Stevens uses. He sets the aperture ahead of time—if it's afternoon he keeps it low around 100, and later in the evening it's 400 to 600. He also adjusts the shutter speed on the spot, depending on how fast the dog is.
Procure a mini squeak ball
Turns out treats are not the secret to getting your pup to "smile" for the camera. Stevens swears by a small squeaky ball like this one that he holds in one hand above the flash while he holds the camera in the other. If selfies are more your style, there is actually a device that attaches a squeaky ball to the top of your phone. Genius.
Look for the ear pop and act fast
Stevens says that after you squeak, you've usually got the pup's attention for a few seconds. So it's normally the first or second shot that winds up being the best. When the dog's ears perk up, that's your cue to snap as many pics as you can!