When my clients ask if they should bring their dog along to sessions, my answer is always YES. No matter what type of session it is, having your dog there adds a level of candid happiness and creates such a natural vibe during sessions, which makes for beautiful photos. Smiles and motions become more natural as you laugh at their photogenic modeling for the camera (or sometimes you will be laughing at their lack of modeling for the dogs that are the wild child of the family!). There were always golden retrievers in my home growing up, so I understand how much of a part of the family your dog can be. They are the furry, four-legged family member who shows unconditional love. Maybe they were your first “baby” before kids arrived. Or maybe you got the dog to help your child make friends. Or, you might just be dog people and can’t have a home without one running for the door when you walk in! Whatever the reason…they are a part of your story too.
My tips for including your dog in your session:
1) Let me know beforehand! I have a special toy that I put on my lens to help me get certain shots of the dog looking right at me. I love candid shots, but I also love the emotion conveyed from their eyes looking straight into my lens.
2) Bring treats or their favorite thing. It may help your dog get used to me, and will also help us to bribe them to get in the exact spot we need!
3) Don’t worry about perfection. One of my favorite shots is when Lexi broke completely out of the family portrait pose to get belly rubs and everyone cracked up…you’ll see below!
4) If we are going to a certain destination other than your home, bring an extra set of hands like Grandma or a neighbor to take the dog if you want some shots without them. If no one is around, you can also bring a leash and we can keep them nice and close to us!
I hope you enjoy this collection of images of dogs included in sessions from over the years…they are some of my favorite photos. And for those of you who are a bit camera shy but you are obsessed with your dog…you’ll see a few pet portraits without family members as well!
The dogs below were part of wedding parties I was photographing while working as a second shooter for Mary Latham Photography and Tina Elizabeth Photography. One of Mary’s couples had a litter of lab puppies and brought them out for some bridal party photos! It was one of my most memorable weddings to date. I also LOVED the Bernese Mountain Dog, Kevin, who was the puppy nephew of one of Tina’s brides… he was not thrilled about having to wear his tuxedo collar and kept trying to pull it off. And then of course there was the beautiful flower girl rescue pup who couldn’t come to the wedding…but she did hang out with everyone to get ready and made an appearance on the cake!