Why you and your dog need to be in your travel photos

Have you noticed the importance of shadows in photography?

Take out those shades of grey-blue and you lose something in the photo itself.  It might be a sense of scale, season, place or even the time of day, but it’s just not the same.

Well, to me, my dogs Keiko and Summer are my ‘furry shadows’.  Having travel photos that don’t feature one of them, both of them or all of us together, is like not having shadows on a bright sunny day… just not as it should be!

Why You and Your Dog Need to Star in your Travel Photos Title

Ok, so you know I’m pretty crazy when it comes to my dogs, and likely you’re the same if you’re here. So let’s together look at why it’s so wonderful to include your dogs in the photos you take when you’re on travel adventures with them.  

A Life Story

Dogs are a huge part of my life. I want to share everything I can with with my fur-friends, including our travels.  My experience of travelling is shaped by their companionship.  Their antics are interwoven with my memories. Taking photographs and recording their joy at experiencing something for the first time or racing along a new track is precious – it allows me to keep forever the experiences in our wonderful time together.

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{Kangaroo Valley – Olympus E-M1 MkII, 40-150mm F2.8 @ 150mm, ISO 400, 1/250 sec, f/2.8}

Those photographs of travelling together also build over the years and become a vital element of telling their life story. They are an invaluable way of celebrating their life (and your life with them). Beautiful photographs of your adventures together become ‘the best memory keeper’ of the happiest times shared.

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{Clarence Gorge – Olympus E-M1 MkII, 7-14mm F2.8 @7mm, ISO 200, 1/200 sec, f/14}

Fur Fun

Think of the same view of some mountains.  In one photo there’s a pretty landscape, in the next there’s your big boofer of a dog sniffing a delicate flower with the mountains rising in the background. Which image sticks in the mind most?

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{Rutherglen Winery Visit – Olympus E-M1 MkII, 7-14mm F2.8 @ 14mm, ISO 200, 1/160sec, f/8.0}

Dogs are spontaneous and do goofy things. Dogs don’t worry about their frizzy hair or double chin. Capturing a crazy moment can add humour to a photograph and unexpected warmth. Their reactions to the environment can add a wonderful sense of freshness to scenes that might otherwise be just a nice picture in a travel book.

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{Merimbula Boardwalk – Olympus E-M1 MkII, 12-40mm F2.8 @ 25mm, 1/8000 sec at f/2.8}

Moving Memories

In my role as a dog photographer I’ve visited the snow every winter for the past seven years.  We first headed there with just Keiko, then in later years were joined by Summer.  We’ve been with family & friends and their dogs – we’ve seen fog, heavy snow, light snow, huge star filled nights, fogbows and blue sky days.  We’ve had snow too deep to walk in and snow that’s just a dusting.  

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{Dinner Plain – Olympus E-M1 MkII, 12-40mm F2.8 @ 18mm, ISO 1600, 1/500 sec, f/6.3}

It’s all different and always a beautiful fun adventure that I want to remember all the different bits of. Having photos each year of my dogs visit to that spot shows all those changes and parts of our stay – it brings all the memories to life as if the visit was yesterday.

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{Dinner Plain – Olympus E-M1 MkII, 12-40mm F2.8 @ 18mm, ISO 1600, 1/500 sec, f6.3}

Something Special….. or a Cut and Paste?

You visit a stunning location and take a classic photograph of the view. You’re thrilled with the result: You got a great angle and the lighting is perfection. Indeed, it’s such a work of art that it wouldn’t look out of place in a travel brochure.

But there’s your problem. You might as well cut and paste the image from the internet. For every great shot of a landscape, it’s highly likely that there are a bunch of photographers who have been there before you and captured something similar. The photo is good but it’s im-paw-sonal and there’s nothing that stamps your character on it to say “We were here.”

Which is where including you and your dogs come in.

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{Kangaroo Valley – Olympus E-M10 MkIII, 14-41mm F3.5-5.6 EZ @25mm, ISO 200, 1/160 sec, f/4.6}

Remember what I said about shadows? Well, your doggie subject adds interest, a focus for the eye and a sense of proportion and emotion. How much more incredible is that old gnarled tree when you see how the trunk dwarfs your dog? Then, when taking a photo for the album, having a dog by your side shows the adventures you’ve shared – and they are now captured for posterity.

Your dog also gives a sense of mood, be that the unexpected contemplation of them encountering the crash of a waterfall for the first time to the headlong excitement of a dog racing through surf. To read the landscape through a dog’s eyes can give us an unexpected fresh insight rather than a classic seen before photo.

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{Short Point, Merimbula – Olympus E-M1 MkII, 12-40mm F2.8 @ 17mm, ISO 200, 1/200 f/11}


So once we’ve taken our gorgeous and unique travel photos, it’s inevitable that they are going to be popped onto the internet or social media! If ever there was a good reason to add dogs to your photos it’s here. Many of my most popular photos are our travel photos.  And many of the most awesome and inspirational travel photos I’ve seen on Instagram or Facebook, are those that include people and their dogs.

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{Sydney Graffiti Art – Olympus E-M1 MkII, 12-40mm F2.8 @ 20mm, ISO 200, 1/2000 f/2.8}

Of course there’s the obvious cute-factor, but another aspect is how life-affirming it is to see dogs being dogs and having the time of their lives in places that we can’t wait to see ourselves.  Whether it’s hiking up mountains, digging on a beach or watching the sunset by their humans side, these are the photos we earmark as remarkable and want to share or like.

Plus, if family or friends are following your adventures, deep down they know that if the dog is having a good time then you will be too!

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{Cowes Beach, Phillip Island – Olympus TG-5 Tough Camera, ISO 100, 4.5mm, 1/5000 sec at f/2.0}

Special Souvenirs

Photographs make the best souvenirs because they are so pawsonal. Who hasn’t leafed through their holiday album with a wistful feeling of longing? This feeling is heightened when you also captured special moments with those you love, which of course includes your pooches!

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{Grafton Jacaranda Festival – Olympus E-M1 MkII, 40-150mm F2.8 @ 90mm, ISO 200, 1/640 sec, f2.8}

Indeed, at your next slide sharing evening don’t have guests trying to stifle a yawn at yet another picture of a mountain range…because wait…Is that Keiko and Sam paddleboarding on the clearest aqua water you’ve ever seen?…Who knew that Keiko was such a cute adventurer (and that such a place existed!)

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{Jervis Bay, Olympus TG-5 Tough Camera, ISO 200, 4.5mm, 1/500 sec, f/8.0}

Fur the Future

When you return home from travelling, it’s not humanly possible to remember every detail. But when you look back through the photos you’ve taken, your memory will be jogged. The sights, sounds, and smells will come flooding back. What your dog looked like after being dunked by a big wave or the first time they stood on snow covered ground. How it felt when   they snuggled into your legs as you rested in front of the fireplace.  

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{Kangaroo Valley, Olympus E-M1 MkII, 40-150mm F2.8 @ 52mm, ISO 200, 1/100 sec, f/2.8}

As you look back, the distance of time will also help you to realize how experiences shared with your dog taught you to live in the moment and enjoy every aspect of your travels to the max. So next time you go on your travels, make a conscious decision to include your dog at the destination.  Never stop the journey you have together.

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{Dinner Plain – Olympus E-M1 MkII, 12-40mm F2.8 @ 21mm, ISO 250, 1/640 sec, f5.0}

The photos accompanying this article were all taken with the Olympus E-M1 MkII, E-M10 MkIII and the Olympus TG-5 Tough Cameras. I’m so thrilled to work with Olympus and their great cameras to develop articles like this. I truly hope it inspires you to get out and travel with your dog, AND to take more photos of them! Travelling is the perfect time to always have a camera on you. You never know when that perfect moment is going to present itself. I love the Olympus OM-D cameras when I’m travelling with Keiko and Summer.  Being mirrorless they are compact in size when out and about, yet have incredible capabilities to perfectly capture the moments I’m spending with my dogs.  The flexibility and performance of these cameras makes the Olympus words, “Never stop the journey” so appropriate.

Want to see more on photography when travelling with dogs?  Check out our Photos to Take Inspiration.

You might also like our creative dog photography ideas, and seeing which you can incorporate into your doggie travel photos.

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Kerry Martin

Kerry is 'Top Dog' here at Puppy Tales. With her own adored dogs, she completely gets that your four legged furry buddy is absolutely part of the family. That they sleep on the bed, that you want to take them everywhere, that you plan holidays so they’re included & that their presence makes your life incredible.