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Senior Sunday

Include Your Pets When Planning Your Senior Portraits

Every senior should consider incorporating their beloved pets into their senior sessions as it adds a deeply personal and meaningful touch to their portraits. Pets are often cherished members of the family, and including them in senior photos not only captures the special bond shared with the pet but also creates lasting memories. The presence of a pet brings a natural and genuine element to the photoshoot, reflecting the senior’s personality, interests, and the close connection they have with their furry companion. Additionally, incorporating a pet can make the session more relaxed and enjoyable, easing any nerves the senior may have during the shoot. It’s an opportunity to showcase not only the senior but also a beloved part of their life story, resulting in unique and heartwarming images that will be treasured for years to come. As you keep reading you’ll gain knowledge on the best way to prepare when bringing your pet dog to a senior session.

1. Give Your Photographer a Heads Up

Informing your photographer in advance about your intent to include your pet in a senior portrait session is an essential courtesy that facilitates a smooth and tailored photoshoot experience. This proactive communication enables the photographer to make necessary arrangements, adjusting their approach and planning for accommodating your dog. By sharing this information, the photographer can consider factors such as the location, the proper outfits to wear, posing, and preparing any additional equipment or props required for capturing moments with them. Planning not only ensures that the photographer is prepared but also allows for a more cohesive and well-executed session, highlighting the relationship between you and your pet in the images.

2. Bring a Wrangler and Create a Getaway Plan

Bringing along a dedicated “wrangler” or helper to your senior session, aside from your parent helping you is a great idea. When you bring your pet it helps to orchestrate a smooth and successful photoshoot. The presence of a wrangler facilitates the management and handling of your pet, allowing the photographer to focus solely on capturing the best moments. More than this, having an escape route or a designated getaway plan for the dog ensures that, in moments of potential stress or overwhelming situations for them, they can be swiftly moved to a safe and quiet space. This thoughtful contingency plan not only prevents disruptions but also prioritizes the well-being and comfort of both your companion and the entire photoshoot environment. By having a wrangler and an escape route in place, you create a conducive atmosphere that helps you relax and leads to more natural moment captured during the senior session. Also once your wrangler leaves with your pet you can focus on the remaining parts of your session without the distraction.

3. Schedule a Grooming Appointment

Grooming your pet before a photoshoot is a thoughtful and essential step that significantly contributes to the overall quality and appeal of the images captured. A well-groomed pet not only looks their best but also gives less imperfections for your photographer to edit later. Grooming ensures a tidy appearance, reducing distractions caused by unruly fur or dirt, which allows the focus to remain on the pet’s expressions and interactions.

4. Tire Them Out

Before your photoshoot, engaging your pet in physical activity proves to be a pivotal strategy in ensuring a more relaxed and cooperative session. Taking your furry companion for a brisk walk, a playful game of fetch, or some energetic playtime helps channel their energy positively and can lead to a calmer demeanor during the shoot (Especially if they are a much younger pet). By exhausting excess energy beforehand, your pet is more likely to feel content and composed, making it easier for them to focus, follow commands, and exhibit a relaxed demeanor during the photoshoot. This pre-shoot exercise not only aids in calming your pet but also contributes to capturing more natural and serene moments between you and your beloved furry friend, resulting in endearing and heartwarming photographs.

5. Bring Essential Supplies

When preparing your beloved canine companion for a senior portrait session, it’s essential to pack a few indispensable items to ensure their comfort and cooperation. Bringing along a bottle of water and a portable bowl helps keep your furry friend hydrated, especially during outdoor sessions in the summer time. Including their favorite toys can provide a sense of familiarity, offering comfort and keeping them engaged between shots. Treats serve as valuable incentives for positive reinforcement and can assist in capturing their attention for desired poses. However making sure only one person (your wrangler) is the one requesting attention is best for great results. Waste bags are also a practical necessity to responsibly clean up after your dog during breaks or when nature calls. Additionally, carrying a lint roller proves beneficial in quickly removing any pet hair that might find its way onto your clothing (Especially dark fabrics), ensuring a polished look throughout the session.

6. Check the Territory

Giving your pet the opportunity to explore and become familiar with the photoshoot location before the photographer arrives can significantly impact their comfort and confidence during the session. Allowing your furry friend time to sniff around, investigate new scents, and become accustomed to the surroundings helps alleviate any anxiety or stress they might feel in an unfamiliar environment. This pre-exploration gives them a chance to acclimate, ensuring they feel more relaxed and at ease when it’s time for the camera to come out. As a result, your pet is more likely to display their natural behavior and personality, leading to more genuine and heartwarming moments captured by the photographer. This simple step of familiarization sets the stage for a smoother and more enjoyable experience, ensuring your pet feels secure and comfortable throughout the photography session.

7. Consider Their Temperament

Comprehending your pet’s unique personality traits and their comfort level in varying environments plays a pivotal role in orchestrating a successful and enjoyable photoshoot. Each pet possesses distinct behaviors and sensitivities, and being attuned to these nuances allows for a personalized approach during the session. Whether your pet is outgoing and exuberant or more reserved and cautious, understanding their tendencies enables you to adapt the photoshoot accordingly. Tailoring the session to accommodate their preferences and comfort zones not only fosters a relaxed atmosphere but also encourages a more natural and authentic portrayal of your pet’s character. By acknowledging and respecting your pet’s individuality, you can create an environment that minimizes stress, ensuring a more enjoyable experience for both your furry companion and the photography session overall.

8. Choose the Right Collar or Leash

Selecting the right collar or leash for your pet during a photoshoot is essential for their comfort and contributes to the overall aesthetic of the images. Opting for a collar or leash that prioritizes your pet’s comfort is crucial, ensuring they feel at ease and unrestricted during the session. Look for comfortable and well-fitting accessories that do not cause discomfort or distraction. Additionally, choosing collars or leashes that complement the aesthetic of the photos without overpowering them is important. Avoid overly flashy, distracting, or bulky accessories that might detract attention from your pet or clash with the desired mood of the images. By selecting a collar or leash that strikes a balance between functionality, comfort, and visual harmony, you can ensure that your pet looks and feels their best, contributing positively to the overall quality and charm of the captured moments. It’s important to not always plan on your photographer “photoshopping” the leash out so make sure to plan accordingly.

9. Select a Pet-Friendly Location

When selecting a location for a photoshoot involving your pet, prioritizing their safety and comfort is paramount. Choose a setting that is not only visually appealing but also safe and accommodating for your furry companion. Look for locations that explicitly allow pets and are free from potential hazards or dangers that could cause distress or harm. Ensure the area is free from toxic plants, sharp objects, or any other potential threats. Opting for spaces with open areas, gentle terrain, and minimal distractions can create a conducive environment for your pet’s comfort and ease during the shoot. By carefully considering the safety aspects of the chosen location, you create a relaxed and secure atmosphere, enabling your pet to showcase their natural charm and allowing for a successful and enjoyable photography session.

10. Don’t Stress and Be Patient

Working with pets during a photography session requires a flexible and patient approach due to their unpredictable nature. It’s crucial to remain composed and patient, understanding that pets might exhibit unexpected behaviors or reactions. Embracing flexibility throughout the session is key; allowing for breaks when needed and being adaptable to your pet’s pace can significantly contribute to a stress-free experience. This flexibility not only accommodates your pet’s comfort but also fosters a relaxed atmosphere for both the pet and the photographer. By staying calm, patient, and open to adjustments, you create an environment that encourages natural interactions and genuine moments, resulting in more authentic and captivating photographs that reflect the true essence of your beloved pet.

By following these ten steps, you can help create a more relaxed and successful photoshoot that includes your beloved pet, resulting in beautiful and cherished memories captured on camera.

Need help with a wrangler? Check out A Dog’s Life.

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I'm Kara, West Michigan Photographer, Wife, Mom of two kids and our sweet Maltipoo. I hope you stay a while or reach out to chat!



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