© Stephanie Millner

How to Prep for a Successful Pet Photoshoot & What to Bring

To get the best outcome from your pet photoshoot, there are a few things that you may want to consider in preparing for your pet photography session. Read the following tips to help you prepare and ensure the experience is fun and enjoyable for everyone, including your pet!

1. Grooming

Your pet is going to be the center of attention, so make sure they look their best! You can give your pet a bath before their photo-shoot, but it is not always necessary. Many pets look camera ready after they’ve been thoroughly brushed.

If the session is for a dog that is regularly groomed, then it might be a good idea to get them a traditional, breed-specific cut before their session. This will help their eyes, build, and features to be more visible in the images. However, if you don’t love the drastic look of a short coat after your dog is groomed, then plan their haircut for a few days before the session. Remember to clean tear stains from under your pet's eyes, as well.

2. Accessories

Does your pet have a signature look? Have you ever used accessories like bows, bandannas, hats, etc. to make your pet look their absolute best?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, this is the perfect opportunity to bring those accessories to the shoot. Signature items will help your pet stand out against all of the other pet portraits because they’re truly unique to them. 

3. Leashes & Collars

For indoor sessions, using a collar or leash is always optional, but when going to a public outdoor location, it’s important to keep your pet’s collars, leashes, and tags on. If your pet is wearing a collar or leash for the entire session, make sure that it’s one you want them to be photographed in. Leashes can be editedout in post-production, although this typically looks best for posedportraits rather than candid or active images.

The same idea should be applied to your dog’s harness. If you can’t remove the harness during the session, make sure it’s a harness you like and that it’s positioned properly on the dog. No one wants to look back and wish that they had changed something about their pet’s appearance, so make sure that every minor detail is perfect!

Side note: Remember to re-leash or re-harness your dog before you leave your session. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

4. Toys & Things 

Having a pet’s favorite squeaky toy, blanket, or worn-out stuffed animal can make or break a shot. If you need your pet to position themselves in a certain way or to get their attention, this is a great way to do it. These items can also be used to capture your pet’s more playful side during the session.

5. Exercise

Speaking of your pet’s playful side, another great way to capture this is by giving them a good walk or play time before their session. For energetic pets, it might be hard to find the right balance between being calm for the camera yet enthusiastic enough to show off their personality. This is why some exercise before a session is so important!  

6. Treats & Feeding

If your pet is treat-motivated, you might want to feed them less food the day of their session. For pets who get full easily, you could give them half a bowl of food for dinner (or just throughout the day), sothey’re more motivated by the treats. If your pet is a bottomless pit, then you can feed them regularly and offer them treats throughout the session.

Be sure to bring your pet’s favorite treats, so that they will work extra hard for an amazing picture.

7. Practice Commands

For pets that are trained to respond to commands, take some time to practice them before the portrait session. If your pet knows commands like roll over, jump, and shake, that could make for some great shots, but remember that tricks aren’t required for the session! Even if they don’t know tricks, there will always be great ways to create amazing shots without formal training!

8. Prepare Yourself

Animals often sense and reflect your energy. When you’re happy, they're happy, when you’re scared or anxious, they’re also scared or anxious. This is why it’s important to stay calm and confident during the session so that your pet will know that everything is okay. You don’t want any of your nervousness or stress to translate into your pet’s actions during the shoot. 

Remember: your session is supposed to be a fun experience for both you and your pet. Have fun with it!

9. Need-to-Knows

When hiring a professional pet photographer, always let them know if your pet has any anxieties or special needs that need to be taken into consideration.This will help them when interacting and bonding with the pet and help bring out your pet’s personality by creating a safe and comfortable environment.

Come prepared, relax, and enjoy this experience! With preparation and communication, you and your photographer will create beautiful images of your furry loved one that you will treasure forever.


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