Tag Archives: tips to prepare for great pet photos

You’re Not A Bad Person Because Your Dog Won’t Sit!

It happens nearly every time I do pet photos.  Human and canine enter the room and within a few seconds human will say “I don’t know how you’re going to do this because [insert dog name here] isn’t very well behaved.”  The statement is laden with shame and embarrassment, and is a tactical move – as if acknowledging it up front will somehow soften the harsh judgement that is certainly forthcoming from the photographer.  Here’s what I want you to know: You’re not a bad person because your dog won’t sit!  And I’m still going to make a great photograph!

Connecticut pet photographerIf it offers any comfort, you should know that MOST dogs behave the way yours does.  Consider their perspective: they are coming into a new environment that is filled with all sorts of delicious dog smells.  They are meeting people they’ve never met before.  And they are surrounded by scary electronic equipment that makes noises and flashes.  I wouldn’t sit either!  It is completely natural for dogs to want to run around and explore and sniff and evaluate.  So we allow time for that.  We know that after a little while this will allow the pup to focus on modeling.  For some dogs it takes just a few minutes, and for others it can take longer.  I’ll wait.  I’ll use some of my time-tested tricks and noises and treats and whatever it takes to help [insert dog name here] look his or her best.  And no matter how long it takes I won’t judge you!

Want to walk into your session with more confidence?   Here are a few tips to help you prepare for great pet photos:

~Do some training with [insert dog name here] before the photo session.  If [insert dog name here] wasn’t at the top of his/her obedience class, practice sit and stay a couple of times each day for a few days before the pictures.  Use treats or toys or both as rewards.  I am continually amazed at how quickly dogs can learn, and just a few training sessions will make a world of difference in front of the camera.
~Take [insert dog name here] for a walk before the photo session.  If he/she has had some exercise [insert dog name here] will be happier and more relaxed.  A walk for them is like a massage or a drink for us – it takes the edge off.  If your dog has expended some energy on a walk he/she will have less to spend on reacting to all the stimuli that the photo area can present.  Practice the sit and stay commands while you walk and you’ll really be helping!
~“OMG, there’s something attacking my head!!!”  If you want [insert dog name here] to wear a costume or clothes or a hat, let him/her wear it before the shoot.  A dog’s instincts tell him/her that something on his/her head is a threat and should be removed as soon as possible.  Help [insert dog name here] understand that this thing on his/her head is not a threat and leaving it there leads to treats.  He/she will be sporting a chapeau as often as possible!  And the photos will be great!
~Relax!  Know that we’re going to get great photos of your dog and that we’re not going to assess your intelligence, parenting skills, or character based on how [insert dog name here] behaves in the time we spend together.  Come in ready to work with us to help [insert dog name here] be as comfortable as possible, and that will make for some terrific photos.

So really, it’s going to be alright.  Your dog will not be the worst model I’ve ever met.  I promise.  Come…relax…have fun…and help us make great pictures.

For more information about booking a private photo session for your dog visit the Pricing page on my website.

Pet Photos Inspired by Pinterest – The Whipped Cream Series

Like any other genre of photography, making pet photos can become routine.  Set up the lights.  Position the model.  Work to get the expression you want.  Hit the shutter release.  Oooh and aaah.  And done.  There’s nothing wrong with this formula, but I often have an itch to do something different and creative that stretches my brain a bit.

Recently I have discovered Pinterest.  While I was aware of the social medial site since its appearance on the scene, my impression was that it was only populated with recipes and home decor and wedding dresses.  I didn’t see a place for me on the site.  I have since learned that there is much more to it than that, and I have found a treasure trove of beautiful photographs.  For obvious reasons I have been drawn to great animal imagery, and most of my “Boards” reflect that interest.

Yesterday I was meandering around Pinterest and found some pet photos that included dogs and water.  They sparked an idea.  PJ loves to drink water from a bottle.  If I pour it into his bowl he will drink the stream of liquid as it falls before he puts his tongue in the bowl.  My idea was that I would use a water bottle to squirt water toward PJ, and I would light it to make the water stand out against a black backdrop.  I did the set up, took a few test shots, and when I was happy with the way things looked I summoned Himself.  But Himself wanted nothing to do with the water.  In fact, as it floated past his nose he turned his head and walked away.  DRAT!  Foiled again.

But wait!  I know a sure-fire way to keep PJ’s interest – Redi-Whip!  He goes crazy for a squirt of the stuff, and he would work all day for a taste.  So I ran upstairs, grabbed the can, and he followed me like I was the King of the World.  Yes!  This was going to work.

Because it was just the two of us it was a little tricky.  I had my camera on self-timer with a 10 second delay, which meant I would press the shutter release and then lure PJ into place and hope that my timing with the whipped cream and his positioning was what we needed for the shot.  It took a few tries, including several where he leaped out of the frame, but within short order we grabbed some fun shots.  As an added bonus, PJ was more than willing to clean up after the shoot!  How many models do that???

It was a good reminder to keep an eye out for inspirational pet photos and to use them to try new things.

Pet photos