5 Things To Prepare Before Your Dog’s Photo Shoot

Written by Courtney Bryson

What do you need for your dog’s photo shoot?

Have you ever had that dream where you show up to school naked? Lets avoid that feeling of being completely unprepared by making sure you’ve got everything you need before you show up for your session… fully clothed please.

This blog is your guide to what you need for your dog prior to your dog photography session.

1. A Simple 6 Foot Leash

It may be dog photography’s worst kept secret, but in case you didn’t know, 99% of the dogs on my website were wearing a leash at their photoshoot!

You simply cannot be a professional dog photographer without becoming an expert at leash removal in Photoshop.

Not only does the leash keep your dog safe, the leash is also an invaluable tool in helping your dog understand where we’d like them to sit or stand since we can’t simply tell them to stand right in this sun spot and look to your left.

There are a few things to consider about your leash to make removal in post production as simple as possible. 

  • Bring a solid color nylon 6 foot leash.
  • Help watch out for leashes wrapped around legs & paws.

2. A Photogenic Collar

While leashes are removed from your final selections, your dog’s collar will remain in their portrait, so it’s worth a few minutes to think about which collar will bets suit your dog’s photos.

For a timeless look, a simple leather (or faux leather) collar in a neutral color will keep your dog’s face as the star of the image.

Since it’s a special occasion, you could also consider a collar with a little extra glam factor. I love the designs from Paco Collars (handmade in California & available locally at Highland Pet Supply in Atlanta).

Or, if leather or bedazzled doesn’t suit your dog, try something solid color or with a fun pattern can be a great choice. My friend Candi in Colorado makes gorgeous collars in beautiful patterns and even luxe velvet at Designs by Wildside. 

This might be a good time to purchase a new collar if you find that your dog’s current collar looks worn or tattered. Also, remember, these portraits will last a lifetime, so maybe pick somthing other than lime green Spongebob print.

3. Leave the Mr. T Tags Off

Since our dogs don’t have pockets, they need to wear their ID tag, and rabies tag, and microchip registration tag, and city license tag.

And suddenly that beautiful collar you choose is dominated by neon plastic dangling tags designed to draw attention. Those tags are great for if your dog were to get lost, but maybe aren’t so great for a portrait hanging on your wall.

Just for your session, I reccomend removing all tags unless they are particularly beautiful or sentimental.

(If you’re looking for a beautiful & personality filled tag, check out Fetching Tags, a local company that hand makes the best tag I have ever purchased for any dog.)

4. Harnesses Are Great for Walking – Not Photographs

Wow! Who knew dogs had so many accessories to consider!

Before we wrap up talking about your dog’s wardrobe, I do want to mention harnesses.

I completely get the appeal of walking with a harness. Lira is always on harness for our walks. Your dog’s harness distributes the pressure from the leash, offers better control, and protects their throat.

They also block a big part of the chest, typically come in bright bold colors, and don’t exactly elevate your dog’s picture to the level of photographic art we’re going for here.

I 100% support wearing a harness for walking and even traveling between photo locations when necessary, but be prepared to switch to the collar & leash only for your actual portraits. Harnesses cannot be removed in post production.

5. Now to the Good Stuff – Treats & Rewards

When it comes to your dog’s photo shoot, it’s time to bring out the good stuff. We’re going to be asking for a lot of their time & attention and we want your dog to be excited to work for the camera.

You know your dog best, so bring the high value rewards. This is time for special occasion treats.

Some ideas include:

  1. Boiled Chicken Breast
  2. Leftover Steak
  3. Cheese
  4. Peanut Butter
  5. Hot Dogs
  6. Cream Cheese

Be sure to bring options so we can keep things exciting. You never know when our supermodel will need some variety.

There you have it, 5 thing your dog needs to be prepared for their photoshoot!

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Courtney of CM Bryson is a pet portrait and lifestyle photographer who takes interesting narrative photographs of all sorts of pets –– cats, dogs, donkeys, you name it. She has an amazing ability to capture the fun-loving side of your pets, as well as their deep attachment to you, all while also being able to stage hilarious photoshoots that bring out the inner comedian in your little guys. Whether you’re looking for a serious, high-concept portrait or a hilarious photo of your pet sure to make you giggle for years to come, Courtney might just be the pet photographer for you.