No More Home Sweet Home: Why I Dropped Backyard and In-Home Sessions

You may have heard the cliché “fence-sitting gets you splinters.”

Well, there I was, straddling that darn fence desperately trying to keep those pesky splinters from invading my you-know-what, fully knowing in my gut that it was time to make a bold decision.

I needed to say goodbye to backyard and in-home sessions.

Implementing that decision was a real tug-of-war for me. I’m talking about the extra jerky, rip-your-arm-out-at-the-shoulder-socket, WWE Smackdown kind of tug that your pup delivers when playing with his Mammoth 5 Knot. I grappled with the conflicting desires to accommodate everyone’s needs while pursuing a path that felt aligned with my personal growth and the direction I wanted to take Bark & Gold Photography.

But like the inevitable outcome of any tug-of-war, a singular victorious decision must emerge.

The Trade-offs of Convenience and Comfort

Some may assume that their own backyard or the familiar comforts of home make for an optimal setting, but the truth is that location plays a pivotal role in the success of a pet photography session, from everything to your final artwork to the overall experience itself, and what may seem like the most convenient choice can often turn out to be the least ideal.

Recognize that everything comes with its own set of trade-offs, be it the allure of convenience, the scarcity of time, or the comfort you seek; every choice you make entails a compromise. For example, convenience, while tempting and immediately gratifying, can often sacrifice depth or quality. Time, our most precious resource, necessitates that we allocate it wisely, understanding that investing more time in one area means diverting it from another. Seeking comfort in our familiar zones avoids risks and consequently hinders growth, new experiences, and unexpected rewards.

It’s crucial to approach your session location with mindful consideration, accepting that what you may gain in some areas results in you also relinquishing something in return. Trade-offs will forever remain an integral part of life’s equation with each decision we make involving sacrifices and compromises.

In the depths of introspection, a profound realization emerged and it became apparent that location is something I simply wasn’t willing to compromise.

In this post, I invite you to explore the five reasons why relying solely on your backyard or home as the location for your pet’s photography session will not yield the extraordinary results you envision and why I decided to drop backyard and in-home sessions entirely in mid-2023.

1. Limited Space

While your home and backyard may seem like the most logical and convenient spot, these spaces often pair too many restrictions with too limited space. This can curb their movements and hinder your photographer’s ability to capture dynamic and natural portraits, especially if you’ve got a larger dog or one with a high energy level. The limited range of available backdrops, coupled with the confined space, results in final portraits that are less diverse and visually captivating.

Over the years, I’ve found that the majority of my clients actually prefer to avoid their home or backyard for their session to create a distinct style and more polished, professional atmosphere for their pets’ portraits, components that can be difficult to achieve in-home or with a typical backyard. Simply put, by opting for one of my many suggested locations, you can expect an enhanced aesthetic for your beautiful portraits.

2. Lack of Variety

I understand the importance you place on capturing your dog’s distinctive personality in a place he knows and loves, and while your backyard may offer familiarity, it just can’t deliver on the diversity and excitement of photographing on-location. When it comes to capturing your dog’s true essence, I don’t fetch just any old location—​I go the extra mile, for real!

Imagine your four-legged friend strutting through a colorful urban hotspot like a canine fashion icon, racing around the trails of a sprawling park like the star of his own adventure movie, or making a splash with an Anchorman-style cannonball into a cool creek—because why not, right? I’m all about creating moments in comfortable and natural settings that’ll have your dog saying, “I’m kind of a big deal.”

3. Lackluster Lighting

Gorgeous natural light is the secret ingredient that adds that extra sparkle to your dog’s portraits, but sometimes Mother Nature loves to throw us a curveball to rival even the worst Kong tennis ball toss with some seriously ruff lighting. Think dappled light, dramatic yet unflattering shadows, and harsh midday sunlight that result in everything from overexposed hot spots to undesirable shadows.

Proper light creates mood, enhances details, adds depth and brilliance, and brings out the best in your subject. Photographing without adequate knowledge of the light’s direction and what to expect in terms of its quality in a client’s home or backyard puts your photographer in a challenging position that can have a detrimental impact on your photos. When unaware of the light’s position or its quality, the position of your house, nearby buildings, or surrounding trees, your photographer may not be able to utilize the optimal angles and positioning to flatter your pet and highlight their features, resulting in a loss of depth and dimension in the final portraits.

4. Affected Natural Behavior

A different location can offer more opportunities for creative setups and allow your little buddy to feel more at ease, resulting in natural and candid expressions that may be challenging to capture in the confines of their own home or backyard. That’s because backyards and the comfort of home are often filled with favorite distractions that can lead to pets losing focus and wandering off to find their usual toys or snuggle spots. Opting for an alternative location allows us to create an atmosphere that captures your pet’s undivided attention, ensuring he remains focused and engaged during our time together.

5. Presentation of Your Work

Backyard or in-home sessions often do not convey the same level of professionalism and attention to detail as a specially chosen location, which can affect client satisfaction, but when it comes to enhancing the beauty of your pet’s artwork, photographing on location can have a profound impact.

By choosing a location tailored specifically for your dog, your home décor, your frame preferences, and the style you desire, we add depth and character to your final artwork. The surroundings, whether a lush garden, a rustic barn, or a colorful cityscape, become an integral part of the composition. The interplay of natural light and textures in the environment brings out the true colors and intricate details of your pet and the location, making them more captivating and elevating the overall visual appeal of your portraits.

The Benefits Beyond the Backyard

Understanding the benefits beyond the backyard is crucial for the success of your session and to fully appreciate the numerous advantages photographing on-location offers. When one moves away from the limitations of typical backyard or indoor settings, a whole realm of creative opportunities opens up. Whether it’s the expansive freedom of space, more ideal lighting, or the assortment of varied backgrounds, photographing on-location provides the means to take your pet’s portraits and ultimately your artwork to unprecedented levels of excellence.

Did you know that when you book your session you get access to my comprehensive suggested location guide to help you determine the perfect spot for your pet’s session? Oh, you want to get your paws on that now? Let’s go! Choose your adventure below to begin.

6 thoughts on “No More Home Sweet Home: Why I Dropped Backyard and In-Home Sessions

  1. Katie says:

    Jess, I absolutely love seeing your on-location portraits framed and hanging on the wall. Those clients must have the biggest smiles on their faces every time they walk by!!

  2. Donna says:

    There might be a little more work involved in getting out of your backyard for your session, but the results are so worth it and those special images are going to last forever!

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