5 Essential Tips to Prepare for Your Puppy’s First Professional Pet Photography Session

Welcoming home your new puppy is a special and heartwarming experience. You watch her grow and change so quickly in those first few weeks and months, so it’s only natural that you’re feeling that urge to slow time down and capture those ever-changing moments and sweet memories through professional pet portraits. After all, you can’t get these fleeting days back once they’re gone, and hiring a professional pet photographer can help to ensure that you have beautiful images to cherish for years to come.

As you prepare for your first professional pet photography session with your puppy, here are five tips to consider that lend themselves to ensuring the most productive, safe, and enjoyable day for both of you.

1. Do it now.

There’s a common misconception that your puppy needs to be older, better trained, less bitey, and [insert other puppy-related excuses here] before you commit to a session, but that’s simply not the case. Puppies grow so quickly, so if you want to capture those adorable big-pawed, extra floofy, land shark days, you’ve got a short window of time to schedule.

2. Find the right photographer.

I’m going to shoot it straight with you: you don’t need a professional photographer, you need a pet photographer—​but not just any pet photographer. You need someone who has experience working specifically with puppies.

With their incredibly short attention spans, puppies can become easily distracted and often lack focus. You’ll appreciate having hired a photographer who has a masterful understanding of how to work with young dogs, who takes unprecedented safety measures to keep your little one comfortable and happy, who has the technical knowledge of her camera including how to adjust to fast-paced situations, and who possesses the unmatched patience and adaptability necessary to capture the puppy portraits you’re dreaming of.

Seeking out recommendations from friends or family who have used a pet photographer before can be a great place to begin your search. Compile a list then spend time determining who may best suit your needs by reading online reviews, browsing their portfolios, scheduling a no-obligation consultation call, and checking out their social media feeds for examples of past sessions to see if their style aligns with your vision.

For a truly boutique client-focused experience, look for a photographer capable of guiding you through every step of her process, from answering early inquiry questions and choosing a puppy-appropriate location to helping you choose the artwork sizes and finishes best suited for your home to showcase your beautiful portraits.

Asking questions is not only helpful in finding the best pet photographer for your puppy, it’s encouraged! Taking the time to get to know potential photographers and understand their individual client experiences allows you to feel confident and comfortable with your decision to hire. Remember, the more information you have, the better equipped you’ll be to make an informed decision for your vision and furry friend.

Related: The 10 Questions Your Pet Photographer Wants You to Ask During Your Consultation

3. Plan for playtime.

If your puppy has a favorite toy—​or several—​bring ’em along! Toys can add fun pops of color to posed portraits, encourage adorable expressions, and entice action. They’ll also help keep him entertained, engaged, and happy during your session.

Bernese Mountain Dog puppy plays with a ball and stuffed toy during a pet photography session at Schenley Plaza in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood

Puppy toys should be safe and appealing to your puppy. Soft toys like stuffed animals or plushies lend themselves well to cuddly portraits while tennis or rubber balls encourage play and interaction. Whatever toys you choose, be sure that they’re durable, non-toxic, and appropriate for your puppy’s age and size.

Related: Xap the Yorkshire Terrier Puppy’s Spring Session at Heinz Field and Pittsburgh’s North Shore

4. Brush up on cues and training.

If (and that’s a big if) your little companion has mastered any basic commands, it’s a good idea to practice and review basic cues and training before her session. Sit, stay, come, and watch me are a few that can be taught early on and that can help keep your puppy focused and make the session run smoothly and efficiently.

Bernese Mountain Dog puppy posing at the CMU Columns Plaza in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood

On the other hand, if your puppy has zero good girl skills quite yet, don’t sweat it or let it deter you from booking a session. No one, especially me, is judging, and besides, spontaneity is fun! As a professional pet photographer, I pretty much expect the unexpected, so relax and just let your puppy be a puppy. Jojo, a stunning three-month-old Bernese Mountain Dog pup, was still learning many cues when her mom reached out to schedule and just look how incredible she did! This little floofer nailed her portraits, including those photographed at the Mellon Institute Columns near Carnegie Mellon University in Oakland.

5. Consider How You’ll Display Your Puppy’s Artwork.

Have certain products caught your eye? Maybe it’s a fine art album filled with all your favorites from your pup’s special day, an heirloom folio box that’s just begging for a spot on your coffee table, or a gorgeous wall art piece that puts your dog large and in charge where you’ll see her every day.

Bernese Mountain Dog puppy's finished products from a winter puppy session in downtown Pittsburgh

Your Puppy’s First Professional Photography Session

As the proud pet parent of your new puppy, it’s no surprise that you’re wanting to capture her joyful spirit and youthful character through professional portraits that will last a lifetime. With these five tips, you can feel confident that you and your puppy will be prepared for this exciting experience, and rest assured that you’ll walk away with beautiful, lasting memories of your furry friend.

If you’re ready to book your puppy’s portrait session with Bark & Gold Photography, I’d love to chat about availability, locations, and artwork with you—​and, of course, hear all about your newest fuzzy addition! Choose your adventure to begin.

Did you enjoy this post? Great, there’s more coming your way because it’s part of a photography blog circle featuring photographers specializing in a variety of niches! Donna of Donna Kelliher Photography answers the top questions and concerns about pet photography sessions. Yes, your crazy dog who won’t sit still can be a superstar too. She’s proving how as we further explore our weekly theme, “How to Survive a [Your Niche] Photography Session.” Continue to click the link at the end of each post in the blog circle until you eventually find your way back here. If you get lost along the way, just look for the trail of dog hair. I won’t be far off…

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