So you’ve decided to get your pet’s photographic portrait done. Great! It’s a fantastic way to celebrate your special companion. Pets are loved and respected members of the family, so why not take the opportunity to have a beautiful photographic keepsake of your friend with fur or scales or feathers as the case may be, created by a professional pet photographer.
The most important thing to keep in mind during your pet photography session that your pet is as relaxed as possible. The last you want is a stressed animal. Depending on the photographer you choose you may have the option of going to a studio, a suitable outdoor location, or at your own home. For some animals it is unsuitable to take them to the photographer; cats prefer their own environment and horses might just be too big for the average photographic studio. Dogs on the other hand love nothing more than an outing. So a trip to the local park or beach might be just the thing and provide an interesting setting for your pet’s photo.
If you go to a studio, it should be a safe environment for your pet, the photographer should allow it to wander about and check out the new surroundings. A familiar toy or blanket is a good idea to have with you as this can be comforting to your pet. The benefits of a studio include a controlled climate; you’re not at the mercy of the elements and the photographer can control the lighting and setting. If you choose to have an outdoor sitting be aware of the time of year and possible weather. Also if going to a park or beach or other public area make sure it’s an animal friendly zone. The last thing you need is a nasty fine from the local council. Your photographer will probably have a good idea of suitable outdoor areas.
It’s important to discuss with your photographer what you expect from your session. Do you want a documentary/informative style of photo; one that shows off a particular breeds attributes? Or do you want a photo that captures the chaotic but lovable nature of your pet? Ideally a portrait should capture the essence of the subject. If your pet is used for breeding and you want to use your photos for promotional purposes let your photographer know. Ask what conditions apply to the reproduction of images for perhaps the internet? Your photographer should have a folio, or online gallery that you can view. This way you can see their work and get an idea of their style. Make sure you have a clear understanding of all costs.
On the day…
Depending on the breed and type of animal some grooming may be in order! Some dog breeds may require a clip; poodles, schnauzers for example. Other pets may just require a quick brush. It is not normally necessary to bath an animal prior to a photography session but this may depend on the type of animal, its habitat and habits (dogs do love to roll in very smelly stuff!). Just a couple of grooming tips: light-coloured animals are sometimes prone to stained fur/hair around the eyes and mouth. There are a number of products available to remedy this. Flies can be a problem in summer for outdoor sessions, so some insect repellent is good to have around. If you usually give your pet treats, it’s a good idea to take some along to the photo shoot or to have some on hand at home. Also if they have a favourite toy, have that handy too.
Your photographer will probably have allowed 1-2 hours for your sitting; to make sure you get the most out of your session, try and be as organised as possible. Make sure all ‘catching’ or ’rounding up’ and grooming of pets are done before the scheduled time of the photography session. That goes for you too if you’re planning on being in the photo! Then your photographer can get straight into creating fantastic images of your pet.
Now the only other thing to do is to relax, enjoy your sitting and allow your photographer to capture your pet’s unique character and personality!