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FAQ Friday // Can I bring my dog to my photo session?

March 1, 2019

Filed in: Tips

It’s FRIDAY (and MARCH, what??) which means it’s time for an FAQ Friday!  I have a lot of clients who have dogs as a part of their family, and I often get asked if dogs can be included in engagement or family sessions.


Bride and Groom portrait with dog at wedding in Portland Oregon

I LOVE dogs and I’m always so excited to get a dog fix at a session!  Over the years, my family has owned a cocker spaniel, two labrador retrievers, a corgie, and a beagle!  I like them cuddly, excited, and a little goofy!  So by all means–if you’d like to include your dog in your next family portrait session or engagement session (or even wedding) I’m ALL. IN.  There are a few things you should know ahead of time though, so let’s get down to it!

1) First, let me know as soon as we start planning your session that you’d like to bring your dog (or even just that you’re thinking of it).  Some locations do not allow dogs, such as nature or wildlife preserves, so if you plan to bring a dog, we’ll be sure to choose a location that welcomes them!

Family photos with dog at Jenkins Estate Hillsboro Oregon

2) Next, make sure your dog is ready for a portrait session!  If this will be your pup’s very first time out at a park, wait until he’s had several park visits and adjusted to them before scheduling your session.  Dogs react so differently to new environments, but if he’s used to going out on car rides and park visits with the fam, he’ll be more relaxed and less anxious at our session.


3) He’ll also need his own wardrobe!  Well, his own photo-ready collar and leash (although I’m one of THOSE people who think dogs in people clothes are hilarious).  Keep in mind that he’ll need to be on a collar and leash for the photos, so choose one that blends in well.  Brown or another neutral is a great option!  Go for simple, classic, and subdued so that the leash isn’t distracting in photos.  And while we’re on the subject of wardrobes, if you have a dog who sheds…think about how much their fur might stand out on the color you’re planning to wear.  Pack a lint roller for any last minute detailing you might need after love from your dog!

4) Be sure that your expectations are set for a fun, relaxed session with your dog.  When a puppy’s included in your photos, we typically take a more candid, lifestyle approach to photos, capturing you and your family the way you normally are at a day at the park!  Don’t stress over trying to get your dog to sit and look at the camera–often, after some play time, that will happen naturally.  But if you’re stressed and commanding the dog, well, that will show in photos!  So relax and have fun with your family–those are the photos we want!

puppy at a family photo session in Hillsboro Oregon

5) On the day of your session, plan to arrive a little early to your session to give your dog time to get used to the park.  Get there half an hour early and do a lap with him around the park.  Not only does that get all of the excitable pent-up-in-the-car energy out, but gives him a chance to get to know the park so he’ll be a little calmer once we start the session!

6) Last, think about how many of the photos you’d like to have your dog in!  Someone will be needing to hold the dog’s leash at all times, which will limit how you can pose if you’re looking for romantic photos with just you and your fiancee at an engagement session.  I love when couples bring a “dogsitter” to their engagement sessions!  We can take photos for half of the session with the dog, and then the dogsitter can take the dog to go play in the park for the second half of the session while we get your romantic portraits done!  This works for family sessions too!

Portrait session with dog in Newberg Oregon

Phew!  I hope this helps you as you decide if you’re going to include your dog in your portrait session!  I’m always pro-dog because I NEED my dog cuddles, but I definitely want to be sure my clients are prepared for what a session looks like with their dogs!


Engagement session with dogs in Portland Oregon

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  1. […] of including your dog in your next family photo session, 1) YES PLEASE–bring on the floof 2) hop over to this post about things to consider when planning family pictures with a […]

  2. […] even more relaxed for the family was that they brought a helper for their dog! I recommend this in my post about how to bring your dog to your photo session, and when clients can make it happen, it really does make for an easier, more relaxed session. […]

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