One of the things I get asked about most often is how to photograph a black dog and not have it look like a black smudge! It can be a challenge for sure, but with a bit of thought and preparation you can nail these type of shots every time.
I'm guessing, if you're the owner of a black dog you probably think that what they need is lots of bright light to lighten them up. Right?? Wrong! What they actually need is soft, even light. If you have too much of a contrast between your dog and the background your poor camera doesn't know what to do and consequently you end up with a picture of the dreaded black blob.
So what can you do?
Firstly, avoid the harsh midday sun. If you have to take a picture during this time then look for some nice even shade and pop your dog into that. The best time to take a picture is actually an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset. This is called the Golden Hour. Try it and see!
Anther tip is to take the photograph on a slightly overcast day. The clouds will act as a great big soft box and give you that lovely diffused light which will help even out the colouring on your dog. Even though it may be overcast, check where the sun is and position your dog so that the sun is partially to the side of them. This will help highlight fur texture and create catch lights in their eyes which will help give your dog expression and focus on the eyes.
Be aware of your backgrounds. Busy or complicated backgrounds won't help your dog to stand out in the picture. Choose somewhere with a 'plain' background or make sure the dog is positioned well away from trees and hedges etc. The further away they are from them, the less distracting the background will be in the final shot.
So, go out and have some fun with your dog trying out different lighting situations. Be patient and expect some failures but once you get the hang of the lighting and backgrounds you'll have this nailed!