Preparing for your pet session...
Choosing the location
I have lots of suggested locations to shoot at, they change throughout the seasons and also depend on your pets personality - which is why I need some information from you first.
Do you have a special place that holds meaningful memories to you or your family? Do you want to display your images in a certain room with a colour theme? How is your pet around other animals and people?
There's lots to discuss in our pre-shoot consultation, but it may be helpful for you to look at my location guide for inspiration. It's important that we choose this carefully to keep everybody safe and content.
Considering what you want to create
Granted, plenty of my clients have no idea when I ask them this, but part of my role is to help you create a perfect piece for your home or a gift.
It's a good idea to have a look around your home and visualise where you might want a mesmerising portrait, stopping visitors in their tracks to ask about your artwork.
I have plenty of options, but if you have a place in mind already, this may change the location suggestions, how I take the photographs at your session, or how I edit them.
I do specialise in larger pieces, as I really believe your pet deserves pride of place. I see pet photography as an investment in your heart and soul, and these images will last forever, long after our pets are no longer with us, so each session is always unique.
Revisit training & tricks
Whether you have a puppy in training, or an old, loyal sweetheart, it's a good idea to refresh training and maximise their need to please!
You may want to visit my page of photogenic tricks or perhaps some general training tips from one of Cheshire's top dog trainers. Being able to follow commands can make it much easier to get a wide variety of images and it is great stimulation for them during the session.
However, don't worry if your doggo would rather be rummaging in the bushes than sitting pretty...
It's absolutely not essential for them to be jumping through hoops. I work with plenty of dogs that are not interested in treats, so in that case we use balls or squeakers to get attention, or take a candid approach - the results are equally as stunning.
Plan your day
Does your pet go full zoomies when you first go for a walk? Consider taking them for a short walk prior to the session to allow them to let of some steam before concentrating on commands.
Is your session booked in for breakfast or dinner time? Perhaps only give them part of their meal so that they are still driven to work for food at their session.
You may also want to keep the rest of your day free if possible as weather forecasts are definitely not 100% accurate. I may suggest meeting a little earlier or later on the day to get the most out of our time together.
No, I don't mean doggy dress up.
I always encourage owners to get in on a handful of shots, and they are always surprised at how those images really aren't focussed on them, but their love for each other!
For that reason I always suggest wearing neutral or earthy tones and avoid any busy patterns as this will make you and your baby pop in the images and not distract the eye!
You don't have to be vogue-ready, but it's nice to have the option to capture some more intimate moments, especially if you're bringing family members along!
Packing your bag
Of course for any food orientated pet, you're going to want an abundance of treats, and however many you think is good, pack a few more, the end of the shoot often produces some of the best shots, when everyone is relaxed, so you don't want to be running short at that point.
I suggest a mixture of low fat treats and something that they REALLY love. This way you're not over facing them but they're excited for the best bits!
You may always want to pack - drink, towel, sanitiser, favourite balls/toys.
Arrive open minded
However you think the shoot will go, how your pet might behave, what we will capture - it likely won't pan out as expected.
I come with a plan, but I adapt to however your pet is feeling at the session, and work with what they will give me. I never force anything if it's not happening, however I do require you to bring a lot of patience too.
It's really easy to get frustrated or upset when they won't do something you know they can, but it needs to be relaxed vibes throughout.
Expect anything to happen, and enjoy every win, every fail and every hilarious blooper - IT'S ALL PART OF THE FUN!