Q&A: Do I Have to Be in Photos with My Pet?

You’re working through your pre-session questionnaire and suddenly a question stops you mid-scroll: “I encourage all of my pet parents to join in for at least a few shots throughout our session. Do you want to be in photos with your pet?”

Your gut instinct may be screaming no way!, urging you to click the option that says, “Definitely not, I’m camera shy!,” but hear me out. There are plenty of ways to include yourself in photos with your pet without being the main focus. In this post, we’re going to look at three ways to join your pet for portraits that don’t require unnatural smiles or awkward cheek-to-cheek stares into the camera.

1. Hands or Feet Only

As I mentioned in the post “The 6 Photos Every Pet Parent Needs,” prompting you to pet your furry friend or placing her by your feet removes that what-the-heck-do-I-do-with-my-hands insecurity. Capturing this shot is as simple as lightly stroking your pup’s head or gently hugging her.

pet portraits with owner's hands and feet

The secret to loving this image more: treat yourself to a beautiful mani-pedi, a dazzling bracelet or ring, or a fun pair of shoes.

2. In the Background

Experimenting with the depth of field–essentially the magic combination of the distance between you and your pet, focal length, and aperture–allows us to get creative with just how much of you remains in focus in the final image. Typically, I’ll position you just a few feet behind your dog who will be the main focus of this portrait and shoot with a wide aperture, which allows her to remain sharp and in focus and while you appear slightly out-of-focus in the background. This type of photo works great for action shots, such as when your dog is running straight toward me with you in the background, as well as more traditional posed portraits.

3. As a Silhouette

Silhouettes, in which you appear entirely black against a vibrant sky, are a unique way to participate in your session. At no point do you need to worry about smiling and staring straight at my camera; these sessions are all about the intimate, natural, and joy-filled connection that you share with your dog. It’s no surprise that Silhouette Sunset Sessions sell out every time!

Silhouette Sunset Sessions are a Fine Art Pawtrait Session offering available just once or twice a year. If you want to be among the first to hear of the next series and grab one of a handful of limited spots, be sure to sign up for my VIP list on my homepage and join the Bark & Gold Photography VIP group on Facebook.

The heart of the Bark & Gold Photography experience is a celebration of the joy and love between you and your pet, which is exactly why I ask that you’re at least open to joining in. Remember that you and I will be the only people to see the images that you’re included in and that will be privately at your in-person reveal and ordering appointment. You don’t have to do anything with these images if you don’t love them and I promise that any that do not get your stamp of approval will not be shared. I also promise that, like most clients, if you’re willing to be photographed for even just a few moments, those photos will be among some of your absolute favorites.

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 “The Experience” in the menu and be sure to share your email on my homepage to join the VIP list.


This post is a part of a photography blog circle featuring photographers specializing in a variety of niches. To see what the next photographer is sharing for our weekly theme, “Faceless,” check out Gretchen Ciccone with GCiccone Photography, capturing special moments. 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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2 thoughts on “Q&A: Do I Have to Be in Photos with My Pet?

  1. Gretchen Ciccone says:

    This is great info for those camera shy people but still want to be in the photo! And the silhouette sessions are the best!!!!

    • Bark & Gold Photography says:

      Thank you! I think many people are just camera shy because they’re not comfortable. My goal is to help take that discomfort out by easing them in. It’s amazing, too, how having a furry friend by your side helps relax you.

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