5 Things You Need to Know Before Having Your Dog Photographed

Are you still struggling to get a great photo of your pet? Let’s face it, dogs have an uncanny way of closing their eyes, looking away, putting down their ears, or just plain leaving the scene, right as you step back to take the photo. If you’re considering hiring a photographer to take professional photos of your dog, there are 5 things you need to know before having your dog photographed.


1 Safety is Priority

When speaking with a professional photographer, be sure to discuss safety. How will he or she keep you, your dog, and the general public safe during your photo session? If you have a reactive or fear aggressive dog, does this photographer know exactly how to act to keep your dog calm and not feel pressured to react? Similarly, if your dog is bothered by other dogs, are you going to be pressured to work in an area busy with other dogs, a likely trigger for your reactive dog?

Photos of your dog standing all by himself can be gorgeous, but is the photographer going to require you to remove your dog’s leash? It’s critical to remember that a dog can be beautifully trained and can have the best recall, but at the end of the day a dog is a dog, and can sometimes be unpredictable. This means if your dog is off his leash, and decides to chase that unsuspecting squirrel, you’ll be standing there watching your dog run away. This can be dangerous, especially if there are any nearby roads.

German Shepherd Dogs Shadow Dog Photography

German Shepherd Dogs Shadow Dog Photography

A good question for any photographer is whether leashes can stay on, and be removed while editing the images. This is the safe way to create a photo of a dog seemingly standing free. The final result can be stunning, and the dog is perfectly safe while creating this look.

The images above show the dogs with their leashes on, and then the final result after my editing. Safety is always priority during any Shadow Dog session.

Ideally the only off-leash activity you should allow is in the safety of a securely fenced in area, where your dog is free to run and play without any risk of getting away and into danger.

Rescued Dog Shadow Dog Photography


2 Experience, Specialty

A good question to ask any photographer is what is his or her specialty. Is it family, newborns, weddings, and also pets? Or is the focus just on pets? Every genre is different in some way, and any photographer that specializes in just one area will likely have much more experience with that type of photography. Someone who works primarily with newborns will have different skill sets than someone who works weddings, or someone who only works with animals.

As mentioned above, does your prospective photographer know how to work with sensitive dogs, the ones who have needs? Some dogs just have a larger personal bubble than others, and a photographer must respect this. Be sure to ask the photographer if he or she is familiar with reading a dog’s body language. Any dog will give plenty of signs and signals if they’re uncomfortable, and it’s a person’s job to recognize these signals.

Some dogs are super shy and are really nervous in new situations. Any pet photographer must know how to make this type of dog feel at ease, and possibly even have fun by the end of a session. If this is your dog, you know how slow he is to warm up to someone or something, and this is good information to share with any photographer. It is then the photographer’s job to work that into the session so beautiful photos can still be captured.

Rescued Dog Shadow Dog Photography


3 Priority Scheduling

We hate to think of this part, but eventually our beloved pets reach their senior years. And sadly, others become ill and have even less time with us. Be sure to ask any photographer if timing is flexible. It’s really important these dogs be fitted into the schedule as soon as possible, since in these situations we truly never know what the next day will bring. Is the photographer sensitive to your dog’s health situation?


4 Expectations

Ask any photographer what you can expect throughout the entire process. Bonus points if this is offered to you before you even have to bring up the subject. There are a lot of moving parts throughout the process, and the more you know the better. This starts with your initial communication with the photographer, and then includes ideas such as preparing for your session (are you given tips and suggestions) and what to expect during your actual session.

It’s beneficial to know what happens next, after the session ends, when you’ve gone your separate ways. When will you hear from the photographer next? How do you see and ultimately choose and purchase your favorite photos? How does the photographer offer your images, is it digitally or in the form of beautiful artwork? You’ll want to know what type of guarantees any photographer offers. After all, you want to know your investment is protected.

Chocolate Labrador Retriever Shadow Dog Photography

5 Product Offerings

This is a good one. As mentioned above, how do you prefer to enjoy your final images? Digitals used to be all the rage, but let’s face it, nothing ever happens with these files, and eventually they get lost in the digital clutter on our phones or computers.

Thankfully many people seem to be going back to having photos professionally printed. There are so many amazing options, and some very unique pieces that promise to wow you day after day. You can choose a canvas wrap, or go a step further and finish off the canvas with a beautiful frame. Custom framed prints are still a stunning option, as are metal prints (with or without a frame). There are albums, wood and acrylic prints, and other desktop options for those tight on wall space, or wanting something extra for the desk. This is something to ask any photographer, to learn what options are offered to show off your pet’s beautiful photos.

Ultimately you want this whole process to be a fun and exciting experience, for you and your pet. You want to end up with gorgeous photos that can be displayed in a way to allow you to enjoy them every day. These are some key things to discuss before having your dog photographed. You may even do this again some day so working with the right photographer is key.

If you have any other questions, or want to learn more about the Shadow Dog experience, click here.

Hi, I'm Jan

I help dog parents celebrate their best friends with adventurous portrait sessions and extraordinary artwork for their home. Tail wags and smiles guaranteed! Based in Whitewater, WI.


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