New Series: The Art of Pet Photography, Part One

Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we post a new and informative series on the art of pet photography.  We will discuss tips & techniques for a variety of subjects related to making great pictures of cats, dogs, and other domesticated pets.

The art of Pet Photography

– Studio Dog Photography, Gain their Trust

When photographing dogs for professional studio portraits, there are a variety of hurdles that can negatively affect the quality of your shoot.

Studio work means bringing the pet into an unfamiliar environment. Just like people, every dog you meet has a different personality and will react differently to the studio setting.  Some will be scared and try to hide, some puppies are excitable and distracted, and some canines will be calm and obedient.

The first step in any pet portrait session is to calm your subjects.  Stressed dogs make for poor photographs and excited dogs are better suited for candid shots. Remember, the owner (who is financing the shoot) is looking for a timeless memory of their loving and happy pet.


Interview the owners a few days prior to find out their pet’s likes, dislikes, and fears.  Then keep these factors in mind when planning the shoot.  If the dog has a favorite treat or toy, ask the owner to bring them along as these can help to keep them calm and focused.

Before the Shoot:

Give yourself a few minutes to meet the dog before entering the studio.  Greet each dog by name in their owners presence, let them sniff your hand and watch for their response. If they are shy, try giving them a treat, or even play a game of fetch before entering the studio. It is important to gain the dogs trust and calm his or her nerves before the session begins.

Entering the Studio:

Some dogs are jovial and friendly before entering the studio, but immediately apprehensive inside the enclosed studio environment.  Many dogs dread visiting the veterinarian, sometimes the studio setup can trigger this fear response and make your shoot less productive.  If this happens,  give them a treat and take them back outside for a quick walk.  This way they don’t feel cornered in the studio and may be more relaxed when they return.

Upset Pets:

If the dog cringes, growls, or barks defensively when you approach, you may have to take additional time repeating the above steps to gain their trust. If nothing seems to work, keep your distance and ask the owner to stand between you and their pet, just a bit off camera during the shoot.  The owners soothing words and instructions may be enough for you to get some good shots. However, it may be beneficial to suggest scheduling another photo-shoot in an environment more comfortable for this particular dog.


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