So you want to include your FUR BABY in your engagement photos? First off - YAY!! If there's anyone who fully understands that pets are family, that pets are your babies, and that they should be included in milestone photos - it would be me!
I loveeee when my couples want to include their sweet pets in their engagement session!! Now, allow me take a quick side step to point out that most of my couples - fairly so - bring their dogs. But just an FYI...I'm waiting for, and eager for the day that one of my couples brings their CAT. That's all. Carry on.
Over the years I've learned a few things about this idea and plan of action that I know help to ensure an easy process for bringing Buster or Bella along and I'm going to share those now to help brides in the future!
- 1. Make sure we choose a location that is pet friendly!
Not every park and/or outdoor space in the KC area allows pets, so when we work together to choose your ideal spot for photos, we need to be aware of that!
- 2. Leashes are ideal!
It's totally a dogs nature to chase things - and since parks and outdoor settings are going to likely have squirrels, birds, rabbits - etc - it's most ideal that we keep your pup leashed! Now, that said, I honestly prefer to not have a distracting leash IN your actual photos, so if possible we might unleash during pics only! If that isn't an option - which is totally understandable, then I would suggest a solid, neutral colored leash so that it isn't quite as distracting!
- 3. Bring a squeaky toy, or just any toy that they love and that will get their attention!
This kinda goes back to the vein of thought that there are sooo many distractions, and ultimately, no matter how many times I baby-voice their name from behind my camera, or dance like a maniac to get them to look at me...it might not work. Or, let's just say that it might not work as well as me having one of their favorite toys in my hand!
- 4. Bring them water - especially on a hot day! And a few treats isn't a bad idea either!
Who doesn't love being told what a good job you've done, followed promptly by a treat? Humans need to take a lesson from dogs on this in my opinion. Rest assured that if Buster does a good job, and in turn is a "very good boy"...giving him a treat will likely make him repeat that process for the next shot! Oh and the whole water idea? Remember that they are covered in fur, we aren't, so if we're hot as heck, just imagine how they feel!
- 5. Have someone bring them later, arriving at the last 15-20 mins.
This is my biggest tip of all, and I saved it for the last one as it deserves the biggest explanation! So, why wait and have your pet arrive at the end of your session you ask? There's a lot of reasons why I'm a firm believer in this, so I'm going to share 'em all with you!
- Despite the fact that I understand and appreciate your fur baby being a part of your guys' family, your engagement session is still, at its core, all about you guys! Give yourselves that first big chunk of our time together to learn all about my posing system and to allow yourselves time to get comfortable and shake off any nervousness. The last thing I want to have happen during that critical first half of your engagement session, is having you guys worry what sweet Bella is chewing on over there, or if Buster is trying to pry his leash off. You guys don't need that distraction when you're busy being cuddly and romantic for the camera!
I've had couples bring a third person along with the dogs and simply go on a walk around the park while we shoot just them first, and that works just a well and eliminates having your helper-person drive out alone!
There are multiple ways we can work that into the equation, but ultimately, the point is having them come to join in toward the end!
Now, who wants to see a few more cute photos involving doggies!?
Case and point on the whole.....distraction thing. Almost immediately upon arrival, Hannah and Tyler's pup, Zoey launched herself real quick like into the pool of water as seen below. Dogs do what they want y'all ;)