Seven Tips for a Great Pet Portrait Shoot

Pet portrait shoots are a form of controlled chaos, and the best way to have success is just to relax and enjoy the process! Here are some top tips to prepare for a great pet portrait session.

1. Don’t Have Performance Anxiety!

Many of the pet owners who bring their animals in for sessions worry that their animal will not “perform” or behave well in front of the lens, and I can assure you that the pet who is a natural performer is extremely rare. When you come in for a session we will work with your pet and figure out ways to make them comfortable and relaxed so we get the type of images we’re looking for. Again, patience is key. (And treats, treats are also key.)

You want me to sit where and do what? I don’t think I am into it.

2. A Slightly Tired Pet is a Happy Pet

Before bringing your pet in for a session, make sure to walk or otherwise exercise them. You don’t want them worn out, but you also don’t want them so full of energy that they can’t concentrate. A nice long walk should put them at the right level of calm. Pro tip – a nice walk also means they won’t show up at the studio needing to go potty!

What’s that table for? That bed looks comfy. Are there naps? I like naps.

3. Project Calm and They Will Stay Calm

Don’t do anything that will get your pet agitated or nervous about the new space and all the new sights/sounds/smells. Speak in a calm tone of voice, and we will let your pet explore the studio and become comfortable as we chat. If you’re excited or tense, or speak to  your animal in a way that makes them nervous or excited, it may be harder to get them back to the calm state we prefer for photos.

Lady, I still don’t think I am into this.

4. Leave Them Wanting More

Don’t feed your pet just before the session. A slightly hungry pet is a treat-motivated pet. A treat-motivated pet will be easier to work with, trust me!

Wait, there are treats involved? Why didn’t you say so?

5. Things May Get Weird

We will be using a variety of methods, tested over time, to try to elicit the poses and expressions we’re looking for. We also make strange noises, crawl on the floor and act in otherwise oddball ways. Expect things to get a little silly.

I’ll bet for treats you can get my brother up here too.

6. Let Us Handle the Snacks

Once the treats come out, generally the photographer or assistant will be giving those out, so the pet knows who to focus on. Multiple people giving treats/offering direction can be confusing for your pet. You can certainly bring your pet’s favorite snack along, and do be sure to let us know about any allergies or food restrictions your pet may have.

Now that’s a relaxed pet.

7. Have a Good Time!

Finally, relax and have fun. Pet portrait sessions are one of the most fun experiences we get to  have in the studio, and the experience should be enjoyable and stress free for you and your pet. It will never go the way you expect it to, and that’s exactly what we expect!

For More Information

Have questions or want to schedule a session? Email or call 314.328.9949.


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