5 Expert Tips on adding your beloved pet in your engagement session
It is no secret that I am a dog lover. If it were plausible I would have a ton of dogs in my home or maybe even my own doggie ranch. I am that girl that will stop a stranger in the street to pat their dog, I usually ask for the dogs name WAY before I talk to the owner! Dogs are just the most slobbery, wiggly bundles of love and make every part of my day better.
I have spent quite a few years photographing dogs at animal shelters and for rescues and have a separate business just for Pet Photography. The combination of my absolute love for dogs and the fact that I have photographed a bunch of them makes me an expert in having them join in on engagement sessions. I love to encourage my couples to bring their dog(s) to their engagement sessions not only because it makes for gorgeous pictures but because they are a part of your lives and therefore should be represented in your photos.
In my time photographing dogs and including them in engagement sessions I have learned a few tips that I would love to share as you plan for your engagement photos.
Take your dog for a walk or to the park before our session together. It is important for your dog(s) to get some exercise before we meet up. This is the perfect time for him/her to get out their energy and do their business prior to having their photos taken. A well exercised pup is better apt to be able to handle commands and stimulation from the click of the camera then one who hasn’t been out/exercised. In my experience I have found that exercising beforehand greatly improves your dogs attention span. How long should you exercise your dog? I have found that the owner knows best according to their dogs specific activity level.
Bring a trusted pet loving friend to your engagement session. It is important to choose a person that you trust. This person will be your dog handler and should be someone that has good control over your dog(s). Joline Cameron Photography engagement sessions take place in two locations. After the portion of the session that includes the dog(s) is over your trusted friend will be in charge of taking care of your dog(s) and possibly bringing them home. Close friends and family members make great dog handlers, someone that your dog(s) know and feel comfortable with.
Plan an activity that allows your dog(s) to act natural and be part of your engagement session seamlessly. Locations should be dog friendly and allow your dog(s) to be a part of the action. You know your dog best and know whether high traffic spots like inner city parks or quiet off mountain trails work best. In the pre-session consultation and questionnaire we can brainstorm engagement session ideas and locations that will work work best for you and your pet(s).
Bring treats to your session. I have found that smelly treats work best, anything peanut butter or cheese flavored. Most dog(s) are food motivated and having treats handy is a great way to get your dogs attention. Having your pet smell the treat that I usually hold above my camera lens before rewarding him/her works great for me. I always like to have treats on me so in case you forget know that I got you covered.
Keep a positive attitude. We can plan and have everything that we need on the day of the session but dog(s) are unpredictable. You don’t know how they will react in certain situations so it’s important to keep a positive attitude if things aren’t happening the way you planned them in your head. I am happy to take extra time with your dog(s) and let them settle and if we need to change locations suddenly for any reason that is fine too. The bottom line is I want the both of you and your pet(s) to be comfortable and at ease.
Bonus Tip: Choose the right photographer.
Choosing the right photographer is the key. It is important to work with someone who is patient, knows dogs and is comfortable adding them into your photos. Ultimately the best relationship is one built on trust. Your photographer should make you feel comfortable and give you the ease that you need to relax and enjoy your session. For more information on scheduling a session with your dog(s) contact me here.