How To: Get Your Pets Ready for Your Session

“Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”

– Anatole France

We all know pets are -way- more than a pet. We don’t just feed and walk them, they are family and we love them just as much. That is why there is one question my clients ask that I absolutely love more than any other, “would it be okay if we brought our dog on our shoot?”  to which I reply with the biggest of smiles,” I’d be sad if you didn’t”. I know how important your pupper (or kitty) can be to you, that’s why I wanted to make this post and have compiled a few tips on how to make your pets look as great as you will for your photos and to make their photo experience go smoothly.

Getting Your Pets Pretty

You’ll be putting a lot of time and attention into looking amazing for your portrait session, so your furry friend should be looking his best too! Make sure he’s well groomed and clean (especially around his eyes, nose, and mouth), and brush his coat to make it look soft and beautiful on camera. If your pet is more of the scruffy type that is great! I just recommend a trim around the eyes!

One thing I suggest NOT doing would be booking your pet’s grooming on the same day as your session, we want to make sure everyone has ample time to look their best and be on time!

Timing & Energy

For more formal portrait shots, I recommend that you play around and exercise your pet before the photo session so he’ll be a little sleepy or be just waking up from a nap when it’s time to shoot — it will be much easier to keep him still then. If you want more dynamic shots, schedule the session during a time when your pet is energetic and save the playtime/action for the camera.

Feeding your pet is something you need to keep in mind too! If your pet normally eats around the time we have our shoot scheduled, I’d suggest a lighter meal. We definitely don’t want your puppy to be hungry but if they are more motivated by food, when we get on location, it may be easier to use treats to get the actions we want!

Be Affectionate

We don’t just want to use your pet as a prop – we want them to be comfortable and have fun. Taking time for snuggling, talking to, and playing with your pets during the shoot helps them (and you) relax and have fun, and also makes for great natural and candid photos that you’ll love. Both you and your pets will be more comfortable when set time aside.

These are just a few tips I have put together to make you and your pets more relaxed and comfortable, and the tips can be used anywhere and for any pet! All of this and more is included in a specialized pet guide that I send to all my clients with pets. Whether it’s a portrait session, family photos, or the beginning of your adventure together with your engagement, your pets are welcome and we will have a GREAT time.




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Nick Sullivan is a professional wedding & engagement photographer based in Frederick MD, capturing memories in MD, PA, VA, and wherever love stories are written.

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