For many people, our pets are undeniably one of the family. The bond between children and animals is particularly worth capturing and remembering. Thankfully, I have plenty of experience photographing animals and am more than happy to discuss including them when booking a family portrait session. Here is a handful of tips for including the family dog, cat, horse, or another pet in your photo shoot:
Keep the Background Simple
This tip is great for portraits of any kind, but it is especially important when working with animals. There will be a lot happening in the shot, so keeping the background simple will help keep the focus on your smiles. Examples of good locations include a single, statement tree or the expanse of the ocean and beach. Indoor shoots might be best for cats, rabbits, or very small dogs that might get nervous easily.
Wear Comfortable Clothes
Including a pet in your family portrait session will help keep the tone light-hearted and natural, enabling me to capture plenty of candid or more casual lifestyle shots. The entire group should be in comfortable clothes that work well in a variety of poses and go well with the location of the shoot. Still, be sure to decide ahead of time which person will sit next to the pet and make sure they wear wrinkle- and fur-resistant clothing! If you want your pet to wear a bow, bandana, or collar accessory, try it on several times so that he or she can get used to it.
Consider Their Colouring
If you have a black cat or dog, they will look great with blue jeans and other, lighter colours but may blend into dress pants or dark dresses. The idea of trying not to match holds true for photographing animals of any colour, from fluffy white cats to sunny golden retrievers.
Find a Relaxing Position
Since many animals react negatively to the stress around them, it is important to stay calm and flexible throughout the shoot. Some poses will not work, or your dog may need a few breaks to run and play. It may be easier to have the family come and get into position when your animal does decide to sit up or lie down somewhere. Alternatively, one of the best ways to include a pet in a photo is to have him or her sitting in someone’s lap.
If you keep in mind that you may not want your canine companion in every shot, however, that can also help take the pressure off. We can simply include the pet again when he or she is calmed down or has a better attention span. It may take lots of shots and moving around, but I will absolutely get multiple images worth keeping!
Capture Moments in Action
To truly capture a pet’s personality and the bond between your family and your pet, I will want to take plenty of action shots. I might ask that you walk or run on the beach, or bring along a favourite toy for your children and pet to play with. Your family portrait session will include both posed and more casual images, so feel free to laugh and play freely.
Photographing animals can take a bit more effort, but it is well worth it to capture a very authentic, happy moment of your entire family. Contact me for more information on booking a session or including a pet in your photo shoot.
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