If you have a dog that you love beyond words, you may want to include them in your senior photography experience! If you determine your dog will be an asset to your senior photography session, then let’s do it! Here are some tips for making the most of your senior photography session with a dog!
1. Consider your dog’s temperament
It should be no surprise that calm dogs are easier to photograph. While we want them all to sit still and follow posing direction, dogs have their own ideas. Dogs that are more calm are easier to photograph as we can then position the senior next to them once they sit down. They are more likely to follow "sit, come, stay" and similar commands, and they are less likely to be distracted by every sound or movement than energetic dogs. This doesn't mean excitable puppies can't be photographed! But it is something to consider when deciding if you want to add them into your session or not. Energetic dogs will require more time and patience from everyone.
2. Consider Your Feelings
I know you love your dog at home and in public. BUT, it's time to be honest with yourself. How do you REALLY feel when you take your dog out to a public place? If you actually feel stressed about their behavior or on high alert for who may come up and try to pet your canine, that might be a sign to leave them at home. If you are not enjoying your time while being photographed, you are not going to like your photos. Alternatively, if you love taking your dog out and are comfortable with other animals and people coming up to interact with him, then you might enjoy showing off your dog in senior pictures!
3. Walk Your Dogs First
If your dog needs exercise to be calm, make sure to take them for walks early in the day. This way by senior session time, they are calm(er) and it will be easier for everyone.
4. Bring Treats!
If your dog will sit/lay/stay for a treat, by all means bring a bribe! My personal preference is a dry treat and not something like hot dogs... Since it is possible I will be holding the treat or someone else will be holding it next to my face and camera. But, dog rules. You know what they like best, and that is what is going to motivate them the most!
5. Choose the Right Collar
Have them wear a leash or collar that photographs well. Look, you don't need to plan an entire wardrobe for your dog, or even shop for designer dog collars. But old and worn collars don’t look as great in photos. Your senior is going to wear a freshly pressed outfit so don't put their dog in the collar they wore yesterday while splashing in a mud puddle! Color coordinate with your senior for photos or choose something neutral if you can!
6. Make a Getaway Plan
Have someone bring your dog at the beginning or end of the session so they do not need to be there the entire time. This will allow you to take some pictures with your dog but then spend more time doing other things such as photos with your music or sports equipment or simply yourself! No need to spend any energy or focus watching for other animals or keeping your pet entertained. They make a guest appearance and head home with a friend or family member!
7. Bring a lint roller!
Better yet, we photograph you with your dog right before you change outfits and that mostly eliminates the problem. I also recommend brushing your dog if needed prior to the session to try to cut down on the loose fur and shedding.
8. Plan ahead for a pet-friendly location!
Some locations, indoor and sometimes outdoor locations do not allow animals. We want to be sure we are choosing a spot where pets are permitted and where it will be easy for you to take photographs with your dog. If you are planning to bring your dog, simply let us know and we will make sure we are choosing a dog-friendly spot!
9. Bring water
Bring water for your dog, especially on warm days. If you are thirsty, they probably are, too!
10. Don't stress!
Do not worry if your dog doesn’t cooperate! Sometimes those candid “real” moments can be some of the best! So relax, play, and be yourself! The best photos are going to be the images where you feel relaxed and comfortable.