Award Winning, Asheville, NC based Destination Wedding Photographer reveals 7 Expert Tips for including your pets in your Engagement Photos:
Pets are a huge responsibility… we love them, we nurture them, we attend to their needs, we protect them…. For many couples, their pets played an integral part in imagining a life together! Whether you came into the relationship with a fur baby that your significant other accepted, grew to love, bonded with and maybe even let sleep in the bed! Or whether you made the leap to adopt a pet together during the relationship — I 1000% believe that sharing the love, the laughs, the hardships, the joy, the adventure and the responsibility of loving a pet plays a pivotal role in a couple’s ability to imagine a life together… forever! Our pets are our fur babies, long before we have human babies! They’re part of every holiday and celebration, we spend our mornings, nights and weekends with them! They’re a special part of your family and you should absolutely include them in your Engagement and/or Wedding Photos!
I wanted to share a few pro tips for including your pets so that you can successfully include them in this very special moment!
I. Notify your Photographer:
You should definitely speak with your photographer ahead of your Engagement Session or Wedding about including your pets in your portraits! This is not something that you should spring on them or decide to do last minute as it requires a little forethought and planning to execute successfully!
II. Location, Location, Location:
You’ll want to work with your photographer to select a location that is pet friendly. It’s important to select a location that allows pets but it’s just as important to select a location that will be comfortable for you and for your pets! You don’t want to select a location that’s busy with cars, people, kids or other pets…. those are distractions to your pet and those types of locations will stress you out trying to wrangle your pet who’s attention is all over the place and dying to explore when you just want them to sit still for a photo! Lastly, you want to select a safe location for portraits with your pet! You don’t want to select a busy street or cliffs, this will distract and stress everyone out!
III. Assign a Pet Wrangler:
You’ll want to ask a friend or relative to bring your pet to the session after we’ve been shooting for about 30 minutes! Personally, I like to start each session alone with just my couples. I’ve mentioned it before but I’ll say it again: we’re not all models and being the sole focus of your photographer’s camera isn’t exactly the most comfortable thing you’ll ever do! It’s important to have at least a half hour to ease into it, to build rapport, to get comfortable with each other and with instruction and posing before we introduce your pets! As cute as they are, they’re a distraction and I need you to be focused on the experience itself first before we introduce any other moving parts! It’s a good idea to ask your pet wrangler to walk or run with your pet during that first 30 minutes in order to get their energy out so we have a relaxed and happy pet to work with during your shoot! Plan for your pet to be at the session for about 10-15 minutes and then we’ll have your pet wrangler take them home! That will be plenty of time for some walking shots, some playful shots and some close up/fam smiling at the camera shots!
IV. Don’t forget the supplies!
Don’t forget to bring a dog brush, lint roller (for you), water bowl, water, poop bags, food and treats for your pet! Hot Pro Tip: Over the years, I’ve found that most dogs will do just about anything for some beef jerky! 😉 Extra Hot Pro Tip: Don’t groom your dog the day before the shoot! They’ll likely still be shedding and that will be a mess! Instead, do it about a week before!
V. Dress to impress!
For as much time as you’ve spent selecting the perfect wardrobe for yourself and your fiancé, you should also spend some time and effort selecting “wardrobe” for your pet! You want a collar + leash that not only doesn’t clash with what you guys will be wearing, ideally, it should compliment what you guys are wearing as well! Seriously.
Ohhhh, you wanna go all in?
Incorporating a pet tuxedo or veil, a sign or bandana, etc. is a suppppper cute idea and I love it when my couples do this (so much!) Professionally, I think a little sign hung around the neck works out better than a bandana for pet portraits as the bandana can be difficult to read and can get flipped up & twisted around etc. Here are a few of my favorite pet signs for engagement and wedding photos:
VI. Act Natural:
Ideally, you should choose a location that is familiar to your pet for best results! You should also act as natural as possible with them, doing things you would normally do with them and interacting with them in the way you would normally interact with them at home! As much as we love them, pets aren’t technically people, so they can’t really be directed for posing and eye contact & that’s okay! Spontaneous, Playful, Snuggly photos with your pet are where it’s at!
VII. No matter what: Stay Positive!!
It is so important that you guys stay cool, calm and collected during the session, even if your pet misbehaves a little! They’ll sense your frustration and that won’t help anything! It’s okay if they don’t sit still or look at the camera, playful photos with your pet are really cute too! Be prepared to be spontaneous and playful during portraits with your pets! You should hire a photographer who possesses the essential skill of pivoting when things don’t go according to plan! It’s invaluable on Wedding Day and it will be helpful when photographing your pets too!
Want to WIN this Sweet Sign for your Fur Baby to don on Wedding Day!?
Head over to the Exclusive Asheville Wedding Photo Brides Group and comment on my post from Monday, May 12th with a photo of you + your pet and a little info about them/why you love them! 🙂 xo -Brit