12 Tips on Event Photography with Pets

Dogs are a huge part of our families. They share our day-to-day lives, and they are there for all the big moments!

In fact, our dogs are often with us more than our human family members. So it’s only natural that we want to include them in milestone moments, says April Hollingsworth, owner of Harmony Designs Photography, who has been photographing dogs (and humans) in the Nashville area for more than 14 years.

Include pets with your pjotos

image by Harmony Designs Photography

“I still love it when a client tells me their pup will be involved in the photo shoot,” she said. “Adding in the dogs always make family photos or special events more memorable!”

Often times pups are our first babies, so it’s only natural to want to include them in all the special moments!

“Our dog has been a part of our family for the past 7 years. Now that our family has grown, it was important to us to capture any moment with our dog and our baby girl!,” explained Amy McNeil, who recently completed a photo session with Harmony Designs Photography. “We’ve grown accustomed to him being a part of our family moments and including him in some of our baby’s photos reinforces his position within our family dynamic.”

As a veteran dog photographer, April knows how important it is to incorporate Fido into your family portrait – or nuptials – so she compiled a list of 8 Tips for Including Dogs in Special Photography Sessions:

  1. Confirm – Don’t assume that your dog is allowed in the venue or park; be sure to check that dogs are welcome. And confirm your plans for the event or session with your photographer and event planner so there are no last minute surprises.
  2. A Helper – Have someone you trust – and that your dog likes – to help out with your pup. Your dog won’t be in every picture, so you will need someone to watch them when they aren’t needed. For a wedding you will want to assign a person to be with your dog throughout the day, to ensure your dog gets food, water, any medications, and potty breaks.
  3. Look Stylish – Nothing ruins a great image like a gross, dirty collar! Make sure your pooch is model ready with a clean or new collar and leash. Add a little extra flair with a bow tie, bandana, or doggie outfit.
  4. Have Treats – Not the normal, everyday treats either. On photo day, you spoil your good doggies with hot dogs, string cheese, duck jerky, Bil-Jac, or freeze dried liver. Having yummy treats will help to keep their attention throughout the session.
  5. Favorite Toys – Having your pups’ favorite toys on-hand serves two purposes: a toy might help get their attention for pictures, and it will also keep them busy when it isn’t their time to be in the spotlight.
  6. Leash Laws – Make sure to bring a leash for your dog! Even the best trained dogs can get distracted in a new environment and possibly run away. There may also be other animals, loud noises, or strange smells that can frighten or distract your pooch. All public parks and locations, as well as most venues, have leash laws requiring your pup to be on leash at all times.
  7. Supplies – Pack a small bag to keep everything for your dog in one place. Have food, treats, water, bowls, toys, accessories, baby wipes, paper towels, and cleaner (just in case of a potty accident). It is always better to be prepared and not ruin your shoot.
  8. Crate – Have a crate on-hand is important for a wedding or event. At some point your dog might get tired, become too excited, or just get overwhelmed. Placing the crate in a quiet room will give them a spot to take a break.

As much as she loves including dogs in every aspect of her life, April says there are times when pups are best left at home. As you are planning your big event (or outdoor photography session), consider just a few more things for the well-being of your furry friends:

Pets, Children and Photos do mix

image by Harmony Designs Photography

  1. The time of year – Is it July and 100 degrees or February and snowing? Will your dog be alright with the temperature? Do they overheat easily? Will they have to stay in a vehicle for any length of time? It is very important to consider the temperature and weather and make sure that is a good fit for your dog.
  2. Homebody – Is your dog shy, nervous, or protective around new people or in new places? Then this event might not be a good idea. You wouldn’t want your dog freaking out during your wedding if they are afraid of the people and loud music!
  3. Is this fun? – Will your pooch enjoy this? It is a question to ask yourself for sure! If your dog is the life of the party and a social butterfly, then an on location photo shoot or event is right up its alley. However, if they would rather be anywhere else, then a big soiree isn’t be the best idea. A photo session at home with your family might be a better choice!
  4. Medical Conditions – If your pup has any severe medical conditions that might make it dangerous for him/her to be a part of the event, definitely discuss this with any helpers, and your photographer/event planner.

Want more photography tips and session heads? Follow @HarmonyDesignsPhotography on Instagram!

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