More than ever, I've recently had a quite a few of my clients inquire about bringing their dogs to their engagement sessions. I always tell them to bring their furry friends along with them, because it allows your session and photos to be more personalized! I've come a long way from the first session I ever photographed with a couple and their pup, and have gathered a few tips to prep my clients (and their fur babies) to make sure their session goes smoothly.
1. Be sure they get plenty of pre-shoot exercise
A tired dog is a happy and photogenic dog! Taking your dog on an extra long walk or allowing for a few extra minutes of play time can help them to relax when it comes time for your session. It's much easier to photograph a pup who's already used a lot of their energy for the day than one who is hyper and only wants to run and jump around.
2. Enjoy the candid moments
Pets are similar to photographing children, as they're unpredictable and won't always look where you ask them or listen when you want them to. Remember that dogs can pick up on our energy, so if they're acting hyper and you're getting frustrated or overwhelmed, just remember to take a deep breath and stay positive! Most dogs also enjoy being outside and usually won't want to stay still for very long, and that's totally okay! It's one of the reasons I enjoy mixing up their camera time with portraits of the two of you. Playing with them (fetch, petting, etc.) allows me to capture candids of you and your pup, and to document your family dynamic!
3. Treats and toys
Treats and toys work like a charm if you want a cooperative dog during your session. Treats encourage good behavior, and your pup deserves them if he or she is doing a great job! Reward them with treats throughout the session. Bring their favorite toy along if you want some shots of them looking directly at the camera (squeaky toys work best for this!).
4. Bring someone to care for your dog behind the scenes
During your session, we'll get a mix of photos with and without your pup. Having someone there to hold your dog's leash while I snap some photos of you two together will ensure your pet's safety and security. It's never safe to leave your dog alone in the car for extended periods of time (especially in winter and summer temperatures), so having a close friend or family member to walk your pet during portions of the shoot is definitely the way to go!
5. Dressing your dog
Many people love to incorporate some extra charm on their dog's collar, whether it be a bow, bowtie or even a ribbon and floral collar (see Snickers below!). Bonus points if it works with the color palette that you two are wearing!
I recently asked talented event planner, Kate Updegrove of Kate & Company Events, for a piece of advice for couples looking to include their dogs in their engagement photos. She says, "Dogs are a really important part of many of my couple's lives so I strongly encourage including the pups, but only in engagement photos and not at the wedding ceremony or reception. Engagement photo sessions are much more relaxed and casual, so the logistics involved are much easier than at the actual wedding in front of a whole crowd of people."
I hope this post is helpful for all of the dog lovers out there! I know it makes my couples so happy to bring their furry friends along to their session, and I can't wait to continue this tradition into the fall season!
If you liked this post, be sure to check out other engagement session planning and style tips!