While my main photography style is centered around people, I simply couldn’t write my blog without mentioning my client’s pets too. So far, the majority of the pets used for family sessions have been dogs. Most likely it is because these fur-babies work best in the parks and outdoor locations of the sessions. However, there have been sessions with other animals that are less common but just as fun to work with for me as well as alongside their family. Cats, rabbits, snakes, fish, reptiles, maybe even an imaginary creature or two are absolutely worth incorporating. If they are part of your family, they can be part of the session!
I have noticed over the years that my clients sometimes hesitate to ask if it is possible to bring their pets to the photo session as part of the family. This is baffling to me as they are such an important part of everyday family life. Would you exclude another family member that might add some extra work into your photos, like let’s say a cranky, teething toddler who has learned to run recently? Absolutely not! On the same note, the fur babies are part of their families. To me, not including them into the session is so sad. While you might often photograph the pet at home or on the go by themselves and with the kids, I can guarantee that you are missing the full family portrait!
To ease you into the idea of pets in your family session, I wanted to share 4 items that you can bring with you to help. These will help you incorporate your pets into the family session and make the shoot as smooth as possible. There will most definitely be smiley faces and everyone will be happy. I guarantee it!
1.) Favourite Toys
As you know, your pet has his or her own favourites toys, especially when it comes to dogs! Please pack a few of these, but keep them hidden until they are needed. If there are a few, we can bring them out individually to delay the excitement. A different distraction later when the novelty has worn off works incredibly well. Also, you know that if you only bring the absolute favourite toy, that will be the day when the pet couldn’t care less about it. Always expect the unexpected.
2.) Extra Treats for your pets
Treats! Did someone say treats? Having a few extra little treats with you can help the dogs to pay close attention to your requests. I also find other animals respond well to the treats. Cats don’t always come when called, but are inclined to jump to greet you at the mention of their favourite treat. It may feel a bit like bribery but it can speed up the process quickly. This keeps kids and animals both happy, and ultimately the parents too!
3.) Spare Outfits
Excitement is in the air when pets are outside or in new environments. The whole family is gathered and it feels like playtime for them. From experience, this excitement can bring a dog to accidentally pee or simply just jumping up on you with muddy paws. Add this to the perfect outfits you selected for your family session and this can be a recipe for disaster! But not for my clients. Firstly, I make sure to emphasize that I can fix the messed outfits in the images my clients will choose. There is never a need to stress about your outfit! Secondly, planning ahead with some spare clothes to finish the session in will keep the excitement from ruining your moment.
4.) Extra Help (person)
During most of the group sessions incorporating dogs, the pet photos are taken within the first 45 minutes. Their attention spans are generally not much longer than that. If you are on location and would like to continue taking photos without your dog, make sure you have someone who can look after it. Seeing as we move to different areas throughout a location to catch the light and change the background, tying the pet up and walking away is not really an option. Wanting to continue to be part of the action, dogs will be impatient and can distract us from the rest of the photos. Having a friend or family member available to help keep the dog company and take him to the next location of the photo shoot works amazingly well for everyone!
Meet the pets prior to the session
Additionally, I have a bonus tip for you! At my consultation meetings I always ask if there is anyone else who will join us for the session. Sometimes my clients have said, “Yeah, we were thinking of our dog(s) but we will see.” At that point I have asked to meet the dog and let him or her get used to me. That helps us when we see each other on the photo session day. The dogs will then be more relaxed towards me and I’ll be sees as almost part of the family already.
In conclusion, I’ll help to incorporate your pets into the photo session any way I can, as long as we don’t break any rules or regulations. These four ideas may help you to start planning on your session with your own fur baby.
Do you have pets items that you would suggest I share with my clients to help them with their photo session? If you do, please feel free to leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.
Check this blog post ” How to get best of your group family photos” for more inspiration.
My passion and biggest asset is taking the time to make every client comfortable and relaxed before I even pick up the camera. The result? Photos of you that actually look like you at your best! I can prove to you how much you can enjoy having your picture taken. Lifestyle photography is about the experience that happens to be served up along side of some great photos.
Family Photography for families that like to move around and enjoy their photo time, Wedding Photography for couples looking for a mixture of photojournalistic, contemporary and traditional images and Professional Corporate headshots that are far from cheesy and stiff.