I’m definitely one of those people who’s pets are part of the family. I go to bed with them at my side and wake up to them too! So I can completely understand when I have couples that want their furbabies involved in their photos! So for this week’s blog, I’ve gathered up some tips and tricks on how to include your pets in your engagement session!
First off, we need to make sure to choose a pet friendly location! West Michigan has so many gorgeous parks and beaches, there is no problem finding somewhere that fits your personality that your dog can tag along to! Whether it’s a dog park along the river like Grand Ravines, or walking around downtown, as long as we follow all the posted rules, we’ll be able to get a ton of awesome shots. If all else fails, your private property could work too!
It’s a good idea to arrive to your session about 15-20 minutes early. This lets your pets sniff everything out ahead of time and run out any energy that might have built up in the car! By the time the session starts, they’ll usually have gotten used to the area and their excitement level comes down. That way we’re not fighting them to sit still!
Since you have an hour for your session, we won’t be including your pets for every image. That’s why it’s important to bring someone else that is comfortable with your furry friends! It usually works out well to start with your animals, and then about 20 minutes in, they can go for a walk and let us finish the session with just the two of you. This gives a lot of variety in your photos, both with and without your pets.
Just like children, I’m not above bribing your pet to get them to behave! Bringing their favorite squeaker or treat helps me direct them where to look, and to keep their attention!
You might have gone shopping for a few new outfits for your session, and there’s no reason Fido doesn’t deserve a little pre-photo pampering either! Depending on their breed or fur-type, consider getting them freshly groomed! It’s also wise to have a minimal and neutral-colored lead. (Please don’t make me photoshop out neon pink leashes!) This also keeps us all safe. If the leash clashes with everything else in the image, I’ll try to minimize it by hiding it, or sometimes quickly unhooking the leash from their collar or harness. Depending on our location though, this could be risky! So it’s best to have a leash that is something neutral like gray or navy, or to have one that coordinates with your outfits and won’t draw attention!
So obviously this post is geared towards dogs, but as a crazy cat lady, I can’t leave out my favorite pets! If you are a cat owner (or rather, if you are owned by a cat), then you know they don’t sit, stay, and smile as well as dogs do. But I’m certainly willing to give it a chance! The best option for this is to use your own home. If we choose a location close enough, we can swing by, torture the cats for a few minutes by giving them love, and then head out for the rest of the session. (Just keep in mind that we might not get the perfect “Christmas card photo” – instead you might capture their real attitudes like this image!)
Thanks for reading my tips on how to include your pets in your engagement session! Be sure to like Jessie Silva on Facebook and Instagram to catch my follow-up post on how to include your pets on your wedding day too!