Choosing the Right Location
If yours dog likes to swim, take them to the river so we can shoot with some water play time (messy activities get shot last). If your dog likes to play fetch, take them to an area with lots of grassy wide open areas so they have room to run and you can get great action shots.
Most importantly, if the dog is timid or doesn't do well with distractions, choose low traffic locations. Areas where there isn't a lot of foot traffic and few or no other dogs are best. I will even recommend to clients that we do at home shoots in extreme cases. They will be far more comfortable in their own space and you are much more likely to get shots that showcase their personality. If the dog is stressed by people or other dogs walking by, that will show in their photos!
Get in the photos!
Dogs will always feel more comfortable with their people by their side. Sitting next to their feet so they are close by, or giving big wet kisses, dogs show a great connection to the camera when they are connecting with their owners!
If you have kids, get them in the shot! My favorite photos by far are always with kids and dogs. Kids and dogs never hold back or are ashamed to show how much they care, and that shows!
This is always my last resort! I prefer to try to shoot without any treats and to not use many props. However, some dogs just focus better with incentive.
Dogs can be afraid of the camera, and in that case, treats are crucial. I will sit with the dog, press the shutter, and then give them a treat. This helps give them a positive association with the clicking sound, and helps them to forget their fear.
Treats can also help to get them to look at the camera. I will hold the treat right next to my lens so they are focused where I want them to be!
No matter what, be patient! It’s good to go into a session with a plan, but no two sessions are ever alike. Just like people, all dogs are different; but fortunately, this makes every session unique and fun!