Today's guest post is from Samantha of Samantha Shannon Photography. Samantha is a wedding and family photographer based in Newberg, Oregon, and she's built a community of clients who love to include their pets in their photos! Today she's sharing with us about the best ways to have your dogs join in your family photos, engagement sessions, or even weddings!
Hi everyone! I'm Samantha and I'm so excited to share some of my tips for including dogs in portrait sessions today! My images are bright, sunny, and natural, and so when clients ask to bring their dog, I know that we're going to be aiming for fun, casual photos. I really love it when family dogs come along to sessions, and I'm pretty much always hoping this happens. Puppy snuggles are a definite side benefit for me at this job, but also, I think it's so nice to capture that moment for your kids. They're going to grow up and that dog is going to be a big part of their childhood memories, so OF COURSE he should be in some photos!
Here's the deal, though. Dogs? They have their OWN AGENDA. An agenda which most certainly does not involve sitting still and staring at a camera when they are at a park with all the smells to smell and all the balls to chase. So I like to make sure the whole family is on board with their expectations before we ever get started with a session. Yep, your dog will probably be distracted during the session. He'll probably need to roam around a bit. And if he's an old hound dog like mine was, he'll probably let out a beagle howl or two. And that's totally okay! Just like with kids, if you start to stress out about them being on the "right" behavior, it's just going to get worse! And really, I think we all need a few beagle howls or muddy paw prints to remind us how much love there is in this world. So the NUMBER ONE rule at sessions with dogs is to relax and enjoy those pups! Let them do their thing, and we'll capture that love! Easy peasy!
So we're going to have photos that are a little more candid than you might be used to. We'll do a lot more walking around and playing. I try to grab those moments where everyone's looking at the camera, sure, but overall, be ready to just have fun with your pup! A great way to set yourself up for success on this one is to arrive at the park early. Bring a change of clothes for yourself if you need to, and get that dog to let his pent up energy out and explore the park for a bit before the session starts. That way, he'll be a little more relaxed at this new place before we even start shooting.
And while we're on the subject of parks, this should NOT be the very first time your dog has ever been out in the car or to the park. If you don't often get out to parks with your dog, it might not be a great idea to make photo session day the first time you try it! Just like with people, new situations and places can be a little overwhelming to dogs. Do a few practice runs to the park you plan to do a session at.
Another important thing about your location--some locations don't allow dogs! So it's especially important to give your photographer a heads up about your plan to bring your dog to your portrait session way before the planning even begins. That decision effects which locations your photographer will suggest to you. We're lucky to have plenty of beautiful spots to choose from here in Yamhill County for our photo sessions, but a few protected natural areas like the Tualatin Wildlife Refuge and Cooper Mountain Nature Park exist to create calm environments for endangered species, so they require a bit more care if we use them, and dogs aren't welcome at those parks.
Another tip that I love to give clients before a pet-friendly photo session is to make sure to think about wardrobe for their pets, too! We have to obey public leash laws during our session, so make sure to get a leash that will look great on your dog! A neutral color in a classic style usually looks best: a classic tan leather leash, for instance, will look timeless and avoid standing out.
Last, and this goes especially for engagement sessions with dogs, bring a helper! It's very likely that you don't plan to include your dog in ALL of the photos, particularly if you're hoping for the calm, romantic photos we capture at engagement sessions. Those poses are much tougher to do if one of you is holding on to an energetic dog! If you bring along a friend, they can take the dog for a walk during the second half of the session--you'll get those calm, romantic poses and your pup will get to explore the park! Win win!
I hope this was helpful information as you plan your next photo session! I believe you can invite your dog with you to nearly any type of photo session, and I have to admit, if I get an inquiry in my inbox for a portrait session with a dog, I'm doing a little happy dance in my living room! Shoot me an email if you'd like to plan your next photo session with your dog!
Some of this content was originally posted at Samantha Shannon Photography