How to Incorporate Pets into your Family Photos

I love the idea of personalizing my clients family photo sessions! After all, there’s no family quite like yours, right?! So, when clients make a request to include their family pet into their session, how could I say “neigh”?! (if you stay with me after that dumb joke, you’re the real MVP)

Working with animals and people is a whole new ball game. You think it’s difficult to make a toddler look at you? Try getting a tortoise to cooperate! (Spoiler, I don’t know how to get a tortoise to cooperate) But, here are a few quick tips for a successful, pet friendly photo session.

  1. Own a pet. Okay, that was little joke. You can totally borrow someone else’s pet! Now let’s get serious…
  2. Make sure that your photographer is comfortable around animals. If you plan to include pets in the photo session, make sure your photographer knows what to expect. You never know if he/she is afraid of dogs or highly allergic to horses. Knowledge is power!
  3. Treats! Just like kids, animals love treats! So bring plenty! And even better, have a friend come to stand behind the photographer and hold the treats towards the camera. That’s how we were able to get the horse to perk his ears up and look towards the camera.

4. Intriguing noises. A trick l like to use on dogs is to have a variety of “squeak toy” sound effects on my phone. (you can just Google “squeak toy noises”) When everyone is in position i press ‘play’ and this prompts Fido to look towards the camera. Don’t over do it, though, or he might lose interest. Also, some animals respond well to a crinkled plastic or paper bag or a whistle.

Cypress Texas Family photographer.  Family photos with pet horse.

5. Keep it clean! If your pet is a dog, remember to bring some waste bags for quick clean up. For yourself, bring a lint roller for rogue pet hair. Also, a brush to keep your pet looking his best! If it’s particularly warm, bring water for your pets. And if you have a very energetic dog, take him for a walk beforehand so that he’ll be more cooperative during the session.

6. Finally, be flexible. The more relaxed you are the more relaxed everyone will be. Let go of perfection and enjoy the session. You are much more likely to love your photos if you loved your time during the photo session.

Cypress Texas Family photographer.  Family photos with pet horse.

7. Bonus tip: If all else fails, make sure your photographer knows how to use Photoshop!

So have fun and don’t be afraid to include your furry family members into your session! Years later, you’ll be glad you did!

If you’d like to see a dreamy boho newborn photo session, please check out Chelseys work in this Cleveland Newborn Photographer blog post!