Location Fixation: Where Should I Have my Session?

One of the first questions I get almost immediately during an intro call with a potential client is Where does my session take place? The truth is, it’s largely up to you!

As a natural light photographer who does not have a studio space, I love shooting outdoors and on-location throughout the greater Pittsburgh area, so whether you desire a rustic rural spot where your pet can adventure and swim or you crave an uptown urban look highlighting the hustle and bustle of city life, I’ve got you covered with a diverse location list that is provided to you upon booking.

In week 26 of the Pet Photography 52 Weeks Project (how are we already halfway through this year?!), we’re turning our focus to our favorite locations, and I’m sharing my favorite tips for helping you decide where to have your session.

On-Location or In-Home?

The first thing you need to decide is if you prefer an on-location or in-home session. The majority of the images shown in my portfolio, on my website, and in my marketing pieces are from on-location sessions, so if you desire a similar look, plan on venturing outside your home or backyard. From colorful gardens and cool cityscapes filled with texture and diversity to natural green spaces where your dog can explore and play, choosing the right location plays an essential role in the final look of your images. I have scouted a variety of locations throughout the Pittsburgh area to bring you the best locations based on a variety of qualities, such as light, diverseness, style, business, and other factors necessary to produce beautiful portraits. I am always open to shooting somewhere new, so if you have an idea, I’d love to hear and I’m happy to assess it for feasibility since not all locations are dog-friendly or conducive to creating the images you desire.

on-location session examples throughout the Pittsburgh area

If your pet requires somewhere quieter or needs to stay close to home, whether due to age or complicated by an inability to travel well, an in-home or backyard session can be a fine choice. This is often the best option for cats or extremely anxious/nervous dogs that do not fair well in public spaces, or for Rainbow Sessions with aged/ailing pets. Typically, however, these sessions do not yield the diversity of images taken on-location simply due to the limitations of the space.

While shooting at your home can produce meaningful, sentimental images, there are a few key elements that make your home extra special and help produce images similar to the ones shown in my portfolio. When preparing your home, yard, and outdoor spaces for your session, I encourage you to do the following prior to our session:

  • Clean floors and surfaces of clutter, both indoors and outdoors.
  • Leave grass and natural areas slightly overgrown to add texture to your images. Clean up any poop on your lawn.
  • Spruce up landscaped gardens, ponds, water features, etc.
  • Remove any items you don’t want to have in your photographs (Kleenex boxes, toys, clothes, piles of magazines/mail, excessive throw pillows, etc).
  • Vacuum, dust, and make beds in any rooms we will be using. We will be working in multiple rooms, especially those with the best and most plentiful natural light.
  • Open blinds and curtains to allow natural light to filter in.
  • Be prepared that we may need to move or rearrange furniture slightly to accommodate the lighting and scene.
  • Turn off TVs and any lamps and any overhead lighting. We want as much natural light as possible.
  • If you have a cat, please close any doors to rooms and block off areas where they may attempt to hide.

Consider Your Pet’s Personality

Do you have a dog who tenses up around the hustle and bustle of city life or who is a bit reactive around lots of people or other dogs? A downtown session may not bode well. Have a water-loving Labrador in your family? Why not head to a lake or pond for splashies! Does your furry friend get super carsick with every ride? Committing to an hour commute for your session only to have him get sick the second he leaps out of your car is certainly less than ideal. Taking into account your pet’s personality and the very things he enjoys doing most (as well as those he’d prefer to avoid) can provide a solid roadmap to a location. Does he enjoy hiking, swimming, playing in the snow, lounging around in his favorite sun-soaked spot on the patio? Share that with me! It may turn on that little lightbulb above my head for a spot tailored to that very activity!

Narrow Down a Style

The final component in choosing a session location is the style you’re hoping to achieve. For instance, are you hoping to create a silhouette against a sunset sky? There are only a select number of spots in the area where we can achieve that. Do you want more muted tones for a signature wall art piece to match your living room colors? Let’s look for areas where we can find that while still incorporating interesting architectural elements and details.

One of the best parts of working with a professional photographer who is there with you every step of the planning process (uh…hiiii, that’s me!) is the unmatched level of personalization you can expect, from your location to your products. No two sessions are ever identical, even when shot at the same location, and that’s what makes it fun!

Want More Tips?

If you’re looking for a few more tips on choosing a session location, be sure to check out this post as well for five questions you can ask yourself to help narrow down your search. You can also head to my portfolio page and take the locations quiz to receive personalized suggestions based on exactly what appeals to you and your pet.

If you would like to book a Bark & Gold Photography session for your pet, click here or give me a call at 724-913-BARK (2275). For more information on Bark & Gold Photography sessions, visit “Your Session” in the menu and be sure to share your email on my homepage to join the VIP list.


This post is a part of the Pet Photography 52 Weeks project blog circle. To see what the next pawesome photographer is sharing for the weekly theme, “Your Favorite Location,” check out Kylee Doyle Photography, serving pet parents in the greater Sacramento area. Continue to click the link at the end of each post in the blog circle until you eventually find your way back here.

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7 thoughts on “Location Fixation: Where Should I Have my Session?

    • Bark & Gold Photography says:

      Thanks, Angela! There are so many little considerations that a client may not realize when it comes to picking the perfect spot.

  1. Kelly Middlebrooks says:

    You are so very good at giving lots of information without overwhelming your clients. Such wonderful images as always.

    • Bark & Gold Photography says:

      Thanks! A lot of this is pulled right from my client session guide that’s provided upon booking. There’s so much more that goes into choosing a location that simply picking somewhere that looks pretty.

  2. Darlene Woodward says:

    I love the dog in the comfy chair, comfortable in his element 🙂 Great bench captures, too! These are all beautiful! Love the info provided about sessions “at home” – so helpful for the client. Great post!

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