Let's face it. You refer to yourself as a doggy mom (or dad), your pet is your baby, and you remind them of that every time you spoil them with a treat, love and affection. Your pet has an Instagram page with countless followers. Your pup's IG fans fire off comments followed by a trail of emojis the moment you post a #cutenessoverload picture. Your cell phone is your gun - ready to shoot any time your doggy's ears perk up at the mention of a puppaccino. Phones are great for snapping quick photos and instantly funnel them to your social media feeds. Regardless of brand, cell phones now offer sophisticated photo editing features, color enhancements and filters and most importantly, the speed and convenience with which you can share what you and your pup have been up to.
However, cell phones have limitations. Resolution, translation to print and lighting control just to list a few. Professional photography can offer solutions to the above limitations of cell phone photography leaving you with lasting images that can be easily scaled up and turned into various art forms. If you have been thinking about having your pet professionally photographed, we have put together a helpful guide on how to prepare yourself and your pet for the professional photo session.
1. Come up with ideas
When you are deciding on having your pet photographed, you do not have to be a photography buff but you should have an idea for what style of photography you are going for. Low light, color, black-and-white, studio, outdoor, action shots, portraits, props vs no props, etc. Decide what purpose the photos will serve. Are you wanting a large print to hang on a wall, or perhaps a canvas piece or a metal print? Or do you just want a social media gallery to share with your friends and family? Having an idea for what you want to do with the photos will help you navigate through services available in your area. Flash and Hound has a Pinterest page we like to direct our clients to for inspiration and ideas (Be sure to check out our fun photo art enhancements in Mutts and Doodles Pinterest board!). We also like photography by several world famous pet photographers and use their work as inspiration for our own projects.
2. Select a photographer
Shop around. Take the time to interview your prospective hires. Find out if they are pet lovers themselves or they're just in it for money. We recommend narrowing the search down to two professionals and then setting up a time to meet them in person. If you're comfortable with them, so will be your pet. Figure out upfront what you're getting for your buck: how long is the photoshoot, how many images you'll be getting, are prints included, who has the rights to the images, what happens if you go over your time limit, is there a travel fee for on-location photoshoots... These are all things you can ask your photographers when you interview them. It is also important to align your photographers' expertise (and available equipment) with your goals and expectations.
Prior to scheduling, we take the time to meet our clients (both two-legged and four-legged) in person so we can learn more about who we are going to work with. Having said all this, come photo time, there are a number of variables that can impact your pet's photo session. The biggie of course - the pets themselves! As we know, they have a mind of their own, which makes what we do SO MUCH FUN. As most clients, you will have all these ideas in mind for what you want the photos to look like. However, if your pup is on strike the day of, have trust in your photographer and chalk off the rest to "let's just have fun". For more pet owner tips on what to do (and not to d0) during a pet photography session, check out our blog article "Dog Parent Guide to a Professional Pet Photoshoot".
3. Book your photoshoot
We recommend booking a session far enough in advance. Allow yourself enough time to schedule a grooming session and obtain any props or pet outfits you may want to include. Decide if you want a studio or outdoor session. At Flash and Hound, we have a list of recommended locations in Scottsdale, AZ where we like to take clients for outdoor photoshoots. For indoor sessions we can host you at our home studio or bring our studio to you. We are mobile and flexible. Note, we do not schedule outdoor sessions in hot summer months (June-August).
4. How long should your session be?
This one is tricky because it is a trade off between your goals, cost, number of images, number of setting (backdrop) changes or wardrobe changes if you decide to dress up you pooch, and of course, how well-behaved our model is. Typically, photography packages are priced per unit of time and number of digital and printed images included. Flash and Hound offers 2 basic packages (a 45 min and a 90min) but we are always happy to provide you with a custom quote if you have something specific in mind.
5. Schedule a grooming session
Some clients are very particular about how their pups look in photos. Some like their dogs styled and freshly groomed, some like the hair to be a bit grown out for more natural appearance. It's a matter of personal preference. If you are partial to their look, our advice is to keep that in the back of your mind when you are booking a photography session. Our personal favorite grooming salons in the Phoenix area are Puff & Fluff Grooming & Pet Sitting and Wagging Tails Pet Resort.
6. Work on basic commands
This is one is especially important for studio or portrait work. "SIT" and "STAY" go a long way here. Shooting adult dogs is so much easier when they have their basics down and are attentive. Know what their motivation is and bring it with you to the photoshoot (treats, toys, squeakers, etc.). For puppy sessions, "SIT" and "STAY" of course go out of the window. And that's OK. Cuteness trumps everything! If you live in the Phoenix area and your pup needs a little help with training and obedience, Learning Pawsibilities and Hunter Canine offer excellent dog training services.