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Before Your Dog Photo Shoot Session

A photo shoot starts before you even take your camera out of the bag! Thinking through your session and mentally preparing for what’s ahead helps ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible. When working with dogs, don’t underestimate the importance of the pregame!

The first thing you want to do is make a game plan. Doing so is especially important if you’re photographing someone else’s pooch, but thinking through your plan even when you’re working with your own dog can help make your experience a successful one.

Figure out ahead of time how things are going to work. Think about your dog specifically and what sort of flow makes the most sense. You can even draw up an outline, noting specific shots you don’t want to miss. Keeping some structure helps and adds a level of calmness to the shoot.

You may not have total control over your dog, but you do have control over your own actions. Don’t forget to think through contingency and alternative plans (for example, what happens if the park you thought was going to be empty isn’t, or your dog suddenly doesn’t like the treats that you’ve stuffed in your pockets?).

After you have a plan, familiarize yourself with the photo shoot’s location. You’ll probably use a location you already know, like your own house or yard, but if you want to use a public place, make a trip there ahead of time without your dog.

Pay attention to the quality of light, available backgrounds, and amount of traffic. Spend some time scouting out different angles (don’t forget to get low, because that’s where the dog is). Know where things are and what’s allowed. If you can’t make a special trip, spend a few minutes before you start photographing to get oriented to the lay of the land.

Even if you’re in your own home, looking around the house through the eyes of a photographer (sounds fancy, doesn’t it?) is a good idea. You’ll probably be surprised at the ideas that come to you or the things you notice that you hadn’t noticed before.

(And if anyone starts asking why you’re crawling around from room to room on all fours, tell them to “stop interrupting your creative process” and keep going.)

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