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Can breed knowledge elevate dog photography? Exploring the ELO

Updated: Feb 26

ELO breed dog photographic captured
dog breed ELO


In this series, I will explore different breeds, showing the challenges each of them brings to a photo session.

The simple answer to the question above is YES!  – but let’s dive deeper into this. How does this knowledge enhance our work as photographers, and why is it essential not to limit our focus solely to the craft of photography? How does it amplify our outcomes, especially in dog photography?

Understanding canine behavior is a crucial element, but what additional knowledge should dog photographers possess? Before meeting with clients and their pets, what can give us an edge?

Imagine asking clients a simple question like “What breed is your dog?” This is not just curiosity; it’s about thoroughly preparing us to be able to deliver the most exceptional photography experience possible.

Insights like physical characteristics, temperaments, and even historical backgrounds that define a breed can guide a photographer in choosing the right environment, lighting, and approach, ultimately leading to more authentic, expressive, and captivating images.

This is especially true for breeds with distinct features and personalities, such as “the ELO”.

As a photographer and proud owner of an (already 12 years old) ELO dog – a unique breed known for its friendly disposition and distinctive coat – I've discovered firsthand the profound impact that breed-specific knowledge can have regarding photography. But what is an ELO for a breed?

The ELO:

Originated in Germany in the late 1980s was developed by Marita and Heinz Szobries to create a family-friendly dog that exhibits a good temperament, health, and intelligence.

The development of the ELO involved careful selection and breeding of several dog breeds, primarily the Eurasier, the Bobtail (Old English Sheepdog), and the Chow-Chow.

The name ELO is derived from the first letter of the Eurasier, the last letter of the bobtail, and the middle vowel of the chow-chow.

The goal was to combine the calm and friendly nature of the Eurasier, the intelligence of the Bobtail, and the appearance and loyalty of the Chow Chow.

Despite its recognition and popularity in Germany, the ELO remains relatively unknown outside of its home country.

Pros of the ELO:

Gentle and friendly: My Elo has been a testament to the breed’s reputation for being incredibly friendly and gentle, especially with children and other pets.

Intelligence and trainability: The intelligence of the Elo is remarkable – unfortunately I must say this characteristic is not showing so much in my dog – as he is very stubborn😊

Robust health: One of the reasons I chose an Elo was their breeder's focus on health and longevity. And yes, our old man is showing some slowing down, but he is still a happy dog.

Cons of the ELO:

Grooming needs: The maintenance of Elo’s coat, particularly during shedding season, demands regular grooming sessions.

Availability: Their rarity means that one must often navigate waiting lists and extensive research to find a reputable breeder.

Photographing an Elo, particularly one with a unique coat like fluffy fur, white body, and black head, presents both challenges and opportunities that require a nuanced understanding of photography and breed characteristics. Here’s how these specific features can impact a photo session, along with the importance of breed characteristics in capturing stunning images.

Photographic Challenges you can expect if you are photographing an ELO or similar-looking dog breeds:

High Contrast: The contrast between the white body and the black head can pose exposure challenges. Cameras might struggle to capture detail in both the bright white and deep black areas simultaneously. This leads to either the white areas being overexposed or the black areas losing detail in the shadows. This requires careful management of lighting and exposure settings. Soft diffused lighting can help reduce harsh shadows. Overcast days provide nature-diffused light, while in the studio – a softbox or diffuser is essential. I always try not to overexpose because managing getting some details back in post-production is much easier than struggling with overexposure.

Fur texture: Dogs with fluffy fur add complexity to lighting arrangements. The texture of the fur can either absorb or reflect light, affecting how the fur’s color and detail appear in photos. Fluffy fur also moves with the wind, which can be both a dynamic element in an image and a challenge to capture clearly without blurring.

Color balance and saturation: capturing the true colors of the mostly 3-colored coat, especially when dealing with both very light and very dark areas, demands attention to color balance and saturation settings in your camera. Also trying to choose locations that complement the coat colors for contrast would be helpful. Natural settings with green or earth tones can make the white fur stand out while providing a neutral background for the black head for example.

Weather: Given Elo’s thick, fluffy coat, consider the weather conditions before planning a photo session. Cooler, overcast days might be more comfortable for the dog and can provide even lighting, while hot, sunny days could lead to discomfort.

How this knowledge can help you as a photographer:

Understanding the nuances of different breeds can significantly elevate the quality of pet photography. This knowledge isn’t just a tool, it’s a lens through which photographers can more accurately plan and execute their sessions, ensuring that the unique qualities of each breed are showcased to their fullest potential.

Session planning: Awareness of a breed’s temperament and energy level helps design a session that is tailored to the dog’s comfort and interests. An energetic breed might benefit from a session in a spacious outdoor setting where they can move freely, whereas a more reserved dog might do better in a quiet, familiar location.

Lighting: Knowledge of a breed’s coat and texture influences decisions about lighting and exposure settings.

Engagement and Interaction: recognizing the social and interactive preferences of a breed enables photographers to engage with them more effectively during the session. This can lead to more authentic and expressive captures, showcasing the dog’s true personality.

Post-processing techniques: tailoring editing techniques to enhance the breed’s features accurately, whether it’s adjusting the contrast to capture the fur or color correction to emphasize their unique coat colors, can significantly impact the final image.


In conclusion:

A deep understanding of dog breeds enriches the photographer’s toolkit, enabling more thoughtful session planning, tailored interaction strategies, and technical adjustments that align with the subject’s specific needs. This breed-specific approach not only enhances the aesthetic quality of the images but also ensures a positive and comfortable experience for all participants.

For photographers passionate about capturing the essence of each dog, investing time in learning about different breeds, from their physical characteristics to their behavioral traits, is not just beneficial – it’s essential.


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