If you know me at all you know that I am a dog person. I work from home so my dogs are my co-workers and my BFFs. Knowing how much I love my dogs, I often get questions from my couples and families about how to include pets in your photos – whether they be family photos, engagement photos, or into your wedding.
Have a plan
My first piece of advice is to have a plan for how you will be wrangling your pet during your session or wedding.
I like to do the photos of you and your pet at the beginning of the session. It helps you to relax and get comfortable in front of the camera since you’ve got your fur baby there with you and also allows us to work with your pet before they get too hot or tired and start feeling uncooperative.
Knowing this, you can see if someone can take your pup for a walk or drop them home once we are finished with them, or if the weather is nice and it is safe to do so you can tuck them away in the car while we finish. I NEVER want you to leave your pet in a hot car so be sure you have a plan for how to care for them based on the weather conditions!
If you are including your pet in your wedding know ahead of time; who is bringing them to the wedding, when they need to arrive, what parts of the wedding they will be staying for, how they are getting home, and be sure that they have adequate food and water for the day.
Ask for help
I always recommend enlisting a friend or family member to help with your pet during the session. They are able to hold the leash while we take photos without your pet in them and can also help direct your pets attention with squeaky toys or treats.
Even if you have a very well behaved, mellow pet you will probably still be distracted by them during your session if you don’t have someone designated to watch over them. Enlisting help lets us make the best use of our time.
Embrace their personalities
If you have a puppy who is super high energy, seated portraits with all of you looking at the camera will probably be frustrating for both you and your pup. Let your high energy dogs run and play and lick your face! Then we really get to see your personalities and an authentic glimpse into your owner / pet relationship.
Conversely, if you’ve got an older pet like Coco here, it’s okay if they look a little grumpy! I’ll bet that grumpy pout is one of the reasons you love them.
Aside from bringing your pups favorite treats and toys, don’t forget to include them in the special details – like this custom dog tag for Wally during Sadie and Emmett’s wedding.
Get them ready for their close up
If you have a breed of dog that needs regular grooming it is always a good idea to have them groomed a week or so before your photos. Don’t have it done the day before just in case there are any mishaps. Besides, a haircut always looks best a few days after, right?
Whenever clients bring their pets to a session I always like to try to get portraits of just the pups as well. We usually have tons of iPhone snaps of our pets but I also want you to have lovely professional portraits of your pets. They’re members of the family too after all!
Expect the unexpected
You aren’t just limited to dogs when you want to include pets in your photos!
No matter which type of pet we are including though, be prepared for surprises – from random licks to fido being a little … excited… during the session. Pets are often unpredictable which is why they bring so much joy into our lives!
Know that they will probably steal the show
Pets are like children. They are unselfconscious, curious, and full of joy. This makes them so much fun to be around and it will also probably mean that your pets and their big personalities will be the star of the show!