To most of us, dogs aren’t just animals! They’re our family! They’re our fur babies! And in my opinion, they deserve to be documented with their humans wether that be in engagement photos or family photos! Heck, I’ve even done a sweet family session with a dog shortly after receiving a cancer diagnoses because that sweet couple wanted some portraits before their precious pup got too sick.
I have clients ask me several times throughout the year, “do you mind if we bring our dog(s) for a few photos?” And the answer is always… YES! And now that I know you have dogs, you BETTER bring them!
That’s not to say that there aren’t some things to know and tips I have to give about including your dogs in your portraits…
I’ve had the most successful time photographing dogs with their families when we have a helper come along with you! This person can keep your dog on a leash, walk them around a little bit, let them explore, etc if they’re feeling a bit too energetic in that moment for photos. Having a helper come with you is the number 1 biggest tip I can give! The alternative would be locking your dog in the car, which we aren’t comfortable with whatsoever!
Do you want to know how I get dogs to look at me most of the time? Holding up a treat or their favorite squeaky toy! Aside from shouting out dogs favorite words that usually get their attention (ball, treat, bye-bye!), this is the BEST way to get them looking in my direction for that perfect portrait you’ve always envisioned having with your precious fur baby.
It’s always my goal to get at least ONE “picture perfect portrait” of everyone looking at the camera, INCLUDING the doggos, but after that, let’s play!! I want to get all of the sweet candids of you interacting with your dog like you do at home. That includes lots of kisses, love, back and belly scratches, walking together, even throwing a ball and playing a few rounds of fetch!
I always worry about dogs getting thirsty and too hot! Bring a water bowl and a few bottles of water with you and when your dog is done with their portion of family photos, your helper (because after reading this post, we know to bring an awesome helper!!) can get your dog cooled off and hydrated with some water! Then from there, they can go walk and explore because most likely, we’re shooting at a pretty open area like a park or somewhere with nice walking trails! Your dog is bound to have the time of their life!
Please don’t ever stress on my behalf! I have 3 dogs myself (and a crazy 4 year old toddler) so trust me when I say – I GET IT! My dogs are spoiled rotten and don’t listen to me half the time. Sometimes they simply don’t want to sit still for pictures and that’s when I will take the opportunity to shift gears and work on getting some more candid style photos of you and your dog. Your dog can get very excited – ESPECIALLY being in a brand new environment! So just know that I’m patient and I’m understanding and we WILL get some keeper images with your pup.
To sum it up, we love our dogs. Including your dogs in your portraits is so important and with these tips, it will be relatively stress free! We want to have memories of them for the years to come because let’s face it – it’s not fair that dogs don’t live to be old and gray WITH us as we grow old and gray. So yes, bring your dog to the shoot, gather up some useful tips from this post, and I can’t wait to meet you AND your precious pup.