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It’s getting to that time of year again when the festive season is starting to build up. Do you know what that means?! 

It’s time to photograph dogs with fairy lights!

You may call them holiday lights, christmas lights, fairy lights or goodness knows what else, but for the purposes of this How-To, we’re sticking with what we call them in my Yorkshire based family – Fairy Lights. 

Let’s see what kind of a shot we are going for here:

How to photograph dogs with fairy lights

First, there are some sure-fire essentials when it comes to getting that beaut bokeh from fairy lights:

  1. Space – you’ll need space to set up your distances
  2. A lens that goes super wide – f2.8 is fine, you can get away with f4 in the right set-up, but the lower the better!
  3. A light source – this can be a lamp, a speedlight, an LED panel, a strobe or whatever you have handy – the trick with a speedlight or a strobe is setting it on the lowest possible power.
  4. Fairy Lights! – at Fraim we use LED net lights, the type that span windows. Ours are available here from Amazon.
    These are also really lovely lights!
  5. A willing subject – hopefully one that doesn’t move too much!

Once you have all of the ingredients ready – it’s time to set up. 

For this How-To I used a small narrow space (hence the vertical final images) between me sofa and a radiator. The net lights were hung on the sofa back, a nail on the wall & a door handle. However, masking tape works really well for sticking them to the wall!

I set up the speedlight on the lowest power just inside of our kitchen doorway, and I sat behind this in the kitchen on the floor. The dog needs to be closer to you than they are to the lights. That is really important. 

The final space & set up looks like this:

How to photograph dogs with fairy lights

See how the light from the speedlight just touches Finn and his front end, but then the light falls off and isn’t anywhere near the lights? That’s the ideal scenario!

Next, grab your lens! I’m using a Sigma 50mm 1.8 lens at f2.5, shutter speed set between 1/100 to 1/200, then I use the ISO to get the right exposure. And when you’re ready, shoot away!

Finns final shot looks like this: 

How to photograph dogs with fairy lights

Not enough bokeh? Widen your aperture (bring the number down!) or move your subject closer to you and further away from the lights. Those are the two things that will maximise your fluffy light circles. 

Here’s a few more dogs with fairy lights from me here:

And of course, some of the students have had a go – how amazing are these shots!

Give it a go & send us your fave shots!

Got stuck? Drop me an email to [email protected] or head to the FB group & i’ll help you out!