How To Get Ready For Your Portrait Session (With Your Fur-Baby)

I frequently get asked the following question “Can we bring our dog to our portrait session? Here’s my answer: YES, ABSOLUTELY!

A portrait session celebrates moments in life. Whether it is a birthday, a graduation, an engagement or a wedding, or even a simply “just because”. During my pre session consultation, I like to go over my clients’ vision for their session and plan accordingly. Typically, most of my clients opt for an session on location because, well North Carolina is simply beautiful and the Triangle has lots of great places to choose from, all in the Durham, Raleigh or Chapel Hill area.

Once the location is set, then we talk about timing during the day (and also the current season).

Since it’s barely the start of Spring, we are looking at overall nice weather, some rainy days and beautiful sunsets (and lot’s of pollen too!)

Once the summer rolls in, things change a bit because summers in North Carolina are a bit intense, specially when it comes to humidity… Fall is simply lovely and has nice weather for the most part and then winter is usually mild(ish) in our area with maybe one or two snowfalls in central North Carolina.

What to wear?

If you’re like me, I sometime stare at my closet, sigh, and say “I have nothing to wear” (As I’m looking at a closet filled with clothes). The key to styling your clothes for your portrait session lies in a good selection of colors and fabrics. If it’s an individual portrait session, things are easier as it is just you. When planning a shoot for 2 or more, you want to think about what each person will be wearing, how both outfits look together and how the outfits go with the location.

For a casual look:

If your goal is to have a casual look then jeans and a nice top or button down shirt are always a hit!

Jean and white shirt look nice, but it’s also quite generic. You want to avoid matching but more going along. Does that make sense? Think of colors that pair up nicely and will compliment each other. Some color combinations are: neutrals like black, white, gray; earthy tones such as: brown, beige, green, kaki; cold/ bright colors like: blue, magenta, purple are a few combinations to get you started. If you’re going for a same color themed shoot, consider then different intensities of that particular color.

For pets, think of a bandana or a bow.

For a formal look:

If you want to dress for the nines, a cocktail dress, a long dress, a suit or a tux will be your best bet. Typically you would be looking for fabrics like silk, lace, chiffon, polyester as an example.

For pets, think of a cute dress, a bow-tie, or a solid color collar.

Lighting and Time of Day

If you want your photos to have that warm, soft, glow light feel, then you are looking at golden hour. This time of day is around 2 hours before sundown. If you have a clear day, it makes for the most beautiful lighting.

Fur-Baby Portraits On Location

If you’re planning on bringing your furry four-legged bestie, you may want to think of the location of your portrait session and whether or not they allow pets or require a special permit. Most places in the city, don’t allow pets to be off leash, which is also something to think about.

Consider your dog's behavior will help you determine if you might need an extra pair of hands to help with Fluffy. For example, my dog Archer is all over the place, he gets excited and is afraid of trails and bikes… (I have no clue why!) On the other hand, Padme (my chihuahua) is a total diva and loves the camera!

Bring A Yummy and Fun Incentive … Snacks and Toys

Everyone loves snacks, even pets! To make sure your fur-baby is happy, bring some of his or her favorites treats and water as well. This is important when you are outdoors in warmer weather.

A good way to help your photographer get the most smiles out of your pet is by bringing a toy that will catch his/her attention. This always gets the cutest reactions!

Have Fun!

Enjoy your portrait session, make sure you feel comfortable with what you’re wearing and where you are and have fun with it! This alone will guarantee better expressions and great memories that you can cherish for years to come.

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