Family Portraits With Dogs: 4 Helpful Tips


If you plan to sit for a family portrait by a professional photographer, you would probably find the idea of leaving a family member out of the shot unthinkable. This conviction may extend beyond the human members of your family to include the faithful family dog, whether you plan a formal indoor portrait or a casual outdoor shoot.

Fortunately, many photographers will happily include Fido in the picture. However, even the calmest and most well-behaved canines can add a degree of uncertainty and unpredictability to the proceedings. If you want to maximize your odds of obtaining beautiful results for all concerned, give some thought to the following four tips.

1. Pay Attention to Your Dog's Well Being

Just as you would never force your spouse or kids to pose for a family photo when they feel unwell, you should make sure your dog seems healthy and happy before having it join the session. No one wants to clean up after a sick pet during a photoshoot. Don't hesitate to contact your photographer and reschedule the shoot.

Your dog should also look its best in advance of the family portrait. Schedule a professional grooming session if your furry friend needs a trim or shampoo. A stylish haircut could greatly enhance the final result of the shoot while also ensuring that your dog will smell pleasant enough to sit with throughout the session.

2. Consider Tiring Your Dog Out Beforehand

Some dogs live a relatively mellow, sedentary existence. These animals may sit or lounge happily for hours, making them a photographer's dream in some respects. However, other dogs exhibit endless energy and may have trouble keeping still, or even remaining in the frame with your family, when they'd rather run, play, and explore.

If you own a high-energy dog who requires lots of daily activity, encourage it to expend as much of that energy as possible before going in front of the camera. Schedule the shoot to accommodate plenty of pre-shoot exercise. With luck, your dog will expend so much energy that it will appear perfectly calm at the shoot.

3. Facilitate the Shoot With Treats and Toys

If you've ever spent much time training a dog, you know how effectively treats and toys can capture a dog's attention. These beloved items can help you cajole your dog into doing what you want it to do. For this reason, treats and toys can make an effective behavior regulator during a family portrait shoot.

You can manipulate the treats and toys in different ways to get specific reactions from the dog. For instance, a friend holding a favorite ball at eye level could get the dog to look toward the camera. If you don't mind including a toy in the shot, you could simply let the dog chew on it happily as a means of keeping it still and calm.

4. Expect the Unexpected

No matter how carefully you prepare for a family portrait that includes your dog, you can assume that the shoot won't go quite as smoothly or predictably as it would with exclusively human subjects. Dogs can need frequent potty breaks or activity breaks, so schedule some extra time for the photo session and take those breaks as needed.

This element of the unexpected can actually work in your favor as long as you don't insist on a formal portrait. If you like the idea of a more active, casual photo, you can simply interact with your dog normally and let them react as they usually do. These photos offer extra charm by displaying your dog's everyday personality.

If you need a skilled, experienced portrait photographer who can bring out the personality of each of your family members, turn to LV Photography. We offer family and individual portraits, headshots, senior photos, wedding photos, and photography for other special occasions. Contact us today to tell us about your needs.



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