Ares & Emzy Photography
Photographing Pets & Their People


Pet Photography with Ares & Emzy Photography: Part 1 - Preparing for your Pet Photo Session

I have two goals for our pet photography sessions:

  1. For you and your pet to have a great time
  2. For me to capture the true essence of your pet’s personality and your pet’s relationship with you

I am most inspired by Gary Parker’s work because it is real.  The animals are at home, enjoying their people in a familiar environment. This is especially important for cats and other small pets that don’t leave the house.

If you are planning to be in the photographs with your pet (and I really hope you are) you will want to look at my previous blog, What to Wear to a Photo Session.



Next, let's talk about getting your pet ready for the photo session.  There are some great tips in this article by Peter Kolonia that I use as a photographer.  It is a great read for clients because it provides a “behind the lens” perspective on what I am trying to achieve during a photo session.

First, you will want to think of grooming your pet. That may be a bath, but at a minimum, it should be a good brushing. Be sure to clean any dried tears from around their eyes. Next, you will want to consider exercise. For dogs, a little bit of exercise and a potty break is in order about 30 minutes before the photo session. For is best to let them have a very typical day, in fact, to not play with them at all so they are especially active when the cat toys do come out.

Treats: For a dog photo session, it is best to reduce the pup’s food by 1/8 to 1/4 cup of food then retain that amount of kibble for the photo session to be used as rewards. We will want to avoid commercial dog treats such as full sized Milk Bones as our session will likely be more than an hour and that would amount to an excessive amount of food. For cats and other pets, treats are not usually a factor, but if your cat and other pets do perform for treats, be sure to have them available.

The first thing I will do when I come into your home is to put my bag down, open it up and allow your pet to freely investigate. Rest assured that my bag is pet proof and there is nothing your pet can damage. It is important for you to allow your pet to get used to me and my equipment without any discipline—so just let them investigate.

While I am having a pleasant conversation with you, I will set up any lights I may need. Our pets are in tune to their owner’s comfort levels and tones of voice.  So, our conversation should be light and upbeat.

The next thing I will do is to pick up my camera and allow your pet to sniff, smell and even paw if they are so inclined, all while the camera is in my hands. Your pet needs to know that the person holding “that thing” is a friend. Once they approach and are comfortable with me holding the camera and pointing the camera at them, I will click the shutter and I may activate the lights/flash…while presenting a treat. This is critical. Dogs are frequently afraid of lightening—they need to understand the source of the flashed light and be rewarded for putting up with the flash.  If I see the pet react negatively to the flash, I will most likely opt to go without.

In the next blog, I will talk about how you can help me to achieve the action shots and pet portraits you will find in my portfolios, For the Love of A Working Dog, and Pet Photography.