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Why You Should Take Your Dog On Your Next Photoshoot

By May 22, 2014March 20th, 2016Blog, Photo

Why You Should Take Your Dog On Your Next Photoshoot  by Jen Schmidt

My little dog — a heartbeat at my feet. ~Edith Wharton


Dogs laugh, but they laugh with their tails. ~Max Eastman, Enjoyment of Laughter


It’s been said that dogs are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole. I can’t imagine life without a dog. Frankly, I don’t want to – it’s too bleak and seems a lot less fun. (I think the longest I’ve ever gone without a canine companion was from age 5 to 9 ½, during which I begged my parents for a puppy daily.)


In my household our dogs are esteemed, respected and well-loved family members. If you at any point in the day hug your pooch, enjoy a round of puppy kisses or stare deep into his soulful eyes, consider bringing your furry friend on your next family photo shoot.

Odds are good you have cherished photos with your other friends and family. Why not your four-legged bestie who knows you better than anyone? Their lives are so fleeting – 10-15 years at best fly by with astonishing speed. Dogs add an unmistakable element of surprise and spontaneity to a photo shoot. At the very least, your pup loves you, and odds are he can make you smile. There’s even scientific evidence to back this statement up, as dogs increase oxytocin levels and reduce stress (—-its-better-you-think/#.U3w5FGi99vA)

If you’re reading this thinking, yes, I love her but I’m worried Bailey would knock over the camera person/get the kids muddy/run into the water and shake all over us/something even worse, don’t despair. There are right ways and wrong ways to approach a canine encounter with a camera. Some steps for success:

Bring treats. Unless your dog is so well trained he can do a handstand riding a horse bareback, and even then, bring treats. Most dogs haven’t been around cameras and/or your photographer and/or your location before, and all of these things can be very distracting. A few tasty morsels in your pocket can help keep your pup focused.


Tire them out beforehand. Especially if your beast is a high-energy retriever-type or a young puppy (or even a young-at-heart slightly older dog) a little walk, hike or swim a few hours before the shoot will work wonders. If you’re planning on some candid activity photos like this during your shoot, don’t tire the dog out to the point of exhaustion – just enough to take the edge off.

2014-05-20_0005Make sure your dog is clean, e.g. if your dog runs through the mud on your morning walk, take the time to clean him off before your shoot. You’d think this would be self-explanatory, but it takes all kinds.

1782358_10152305260065979_70832702_oChoose a handler. If there’s someone the dog usually listens to best, make sure that person understands they are going to lead the rest of you in keeping the dog calm during the shoot. Dogs get confused when too many voices are chiming in.

1532022_10152157767025979_464997148_oBring a leash. Even if your dog doesn’t normally wear a one! They’re instrumental in making sit mean sit, and stay mean stay. If all you have is a ratty chewed up leash, maybe borrow a slightly-nicer-looking one from a friend or invest in something simple and clean, because it’s probably going to be visible in some photos.

2014-05-20_0007Get comfortable. If you think your dog may need a little time to get relaxed with the location/situation/photographer, let your photographer know and maybe you can schedule a little time before the session to set your pup’s mind at ease.

241965_10151052486520979_266460095_oWear clothes you’re OK getting dirty. As you hopefully know, dogs love to roll/swim/chase/run and generally get filthy. Even the well-trained ones. It’ll be more fun for you if you’re wearing dog-friendly clothing, so you can feel stress-free during your shoot rather than panicking because your sweet lab ruined a very expensive white dress. (If you’re tense, believe me, the camera picks it up.) If you do wear shmancy clothing, be aware that you might have to roll with some muddy paw prints and still look happy.

174932_10151250644505979_1582421866_oHave fun! If your hound runs off into the water or plays keepaway with a stick, go with it. These moments are the type of moments that make having a dog worthwhile, so rather than tense up because the dog isn’t doing exactly as he’s told, embrace the element of play. If you have a great photographer you’re going to get some dynamic, magical moments that express all the fun and love in your family’s relationship with this animal. After all, your dog loves you more than anything in the world.

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by Jen Schmidt

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