Have you ever arrived for class and seen those dreaded words, "Pop Quiz Today" written on the chalkboard? Or maybe you left for work with sunny skies overhead, but by the time you are ready to head home, the heavens have opened up and you have no umbrella or raincoat? I don't know about you, but I hate being unprepared.
Well, I will not let that happen to you. I am going to give you a list of things to prepare prior to your dog's photography session. Don't worry, it isn't a long list.
A Simple 6" Leash
I am going to let you in on a little professional dog photographer's secret. 99% of the dogs you see on my website were on a leash during their session.
Trust me, I am an expert at removing leashes during post-processing.
Leashes serve many purposes during the session. First and most important they keep your dog safe. They are also helpful in getting your dog to the perfect spot. Since dogs don't understand human speak, we can't tell them to stand in the middle of that meadow in that beautiful patch of sunlight and wait for me to click the shutter.
Things to consider when choosing a leash for your session:
- A 6" length leash is best
- Thin leashes are preferred
A Photogenic Collar
While I do remove leashes from your final images, your dog's collar will remain in the photograph.
Take a look at your dog's collar and consider if it is right for their photos. Does it represent their personality? Just like you want your clothes to look great in a photo, your dog's collar should enhance their good looks.
Now might be the perfect time to buy them that new collar. A neutral-colored thin leather collar is always a classic (check out Orox Leather Co. Collars). Or maybe you have a glamour girl that would prefer a bedazzled collar. Maybe your dog is a big goofball like mine and prefers to wear something a little more colorful (try Cycle Dog's No-Stink Collars). And then there are those adventure dogs who might like something a little more rugged looking (something like WoolDog PDX's Wool Collars)
Also, consider if you want your dog's tags in the photo. We all know how important tags are to a dog's safety, but they don't always make for great photos. It is a matter of preference, but something to think about.
Leave The Harness in the Car
As a dog trainer, I know how helpful a harness can be for those dogs that love to pull ahead toward the action. They can help reduce pulling and help prevent injury in dogs that are a little overly enthusiastic. However, as a dog photographer, I don't love them as much.
Most harnesses cover a good portion of your dog's chest and often come in bright colors. For that reason, they do not help your dog shine in their photographs. You don't want to order a stunning large acrylic wall piece of your dog and have your eye distracted by the harness. Your dog should be the star, not their wardrobe.
I highly recommend harnesses for walking your dog and for travel. Just come prepared to remove the harness when you get to the photo shoot location.
Treats and Toys
This is your dog's favorite item on the list for sure. Feel free to consult with them.
During their photo shoot, I will be asking them to stay and look at me. These are high-value behaviors for most dogs. That means it is time to break out the good stuff...their most favorite treats or that squeaky toy that makes them light up. While I bring treats and noisemakers, you know your dog best and will have a better idea of what will get their attention.
If your dog is less than excited about their current treat, you might want to try some boiled chicken (a particular favorite of my boy, Lucas), cheese, or peanut butter.
If balls or toys are more their thing, it can be helpful to bring one of those as well. I recently photographed two dogs that were ball crazy. Their mom held the ball right above my lens and they looked straight at me instantly.
Bring a couple of options as sometimes dogs get bored and will stop reacting to the same reward over and over again.
Lastly, Exercise Your Dog Before Their Shoot
Exercising your dog before their session helps them be more relaxed and a little less anxious. As you can imagine, if your dog has not had any exercise prior to their photo shoot, they are restless and unfocused which does not make for good photos. Once they get a little excess energy out of their system, they tend to be more likely to sit and look at the camera.
We do take breaks during the session to walk to other locations or just give the dog a little break. Often if the dog loves toys or balls, we can even take a little play break. Play breaks are also great for getting those "smiling" photos we all love.
Since your dog can't read or pack for
themselves, I am providing you with a
checklist that you can download to
make sure that you have everything
your dog needs to make them ready
to be the snoopermodel that they are.
Let's make your dog a snoopermodel. Schedule your free consultation today.