Whether your a photographer, client, or future bride, this is for you!
If you have followed me on Instagram (@natalyhernandezphoto) for any amount of time than you already know, I have two working line German Shepherds that make my life interesting, to say the least! I’m going to assume that if you’re here, then you most likely have a four-legged love at home too. So let’s dive right in and get into why you’re here. Tips for including your dog(s) in your family session, engagement session or wedding day!
Tip #1: Ask for help!
The first thing you will need to do is ask a loved one for help, someone who you trust with your dog(s) to keep an eye on them or hold their leash when they aren’t in the photos. Believe me when I tell you that this is my #1 tip because it’s the most important! You don’t want to be distracted and worried about your pup when they are not in the photos.
If you want to include them at your family session or engagement photos, you don’t want to worry about having to tie your dog to something and then hear them whine when they aren’t included. It will not only be super distracting but stressful to you having to listen to your pup cry. On wedding days this is even more important! You will be BUSY on your wedding day… believe me! Your bridal party will also be busy. Make sure and ask a close family friend or family member who doesn’t have an active role on your wedding day if they would be willing to be on leash duty.
Bonus tip for Including your Dog on Wedding days:
If you’re here, I’m going to take a wild guess and assume your pup will have a role on your wedding day! The best time to include your dog (s) is during the getting ready time and the ceremony! However, have a plan for what happens after the service. Is someone taking them home or watching them? Perhaps during cocktail hour is the perfect time for your designated person to take them to that location.
Tip #2: How to make your dog smile!
Anytime your pup(s) have their mouth open and are panting, they naturally look happy and as if they are smiling! The trick to this is to walk them for a few minutes before it’s their turn to be in front of the camera; this will naturally make them pant and give that appearance of a smile! Again, this goes back to tip #1. The person that is helping you can walk them while your session gets started, and you get comfortable in front of the camera before adding your pup(s).
Tip #3: A tired dog is a well behaved (and happy) dog!
Want your dog to be more level headed and not have the zoomies the entire time you are at your session? Exercise them a few hours before your session! You don’t want the first time your dog went out during the day to be during your session. They will be wound up and full of energy, making it harder to grab their attention and for you to have those sweet photos you wanted.
Tip #4: Bring treats or their favorite toy.
Bring your dog(s) favorite treat or toy to help your photographer better grab their attention and guarantee they look at the camera. People ask me this the most, “How do you get your dogs to look at the camera?”. The truth is that my dogs are so used to me photographing them that I only have to say their names to get their attention. They also know the command “focus,” which means they need to look at me… however, my response is always to use a treat or toy to get their attention. You know best if your dog responds to treats or a toy better.
If you’re the photographer in this case, then you want to hold the treat or toy near your camera. They will look right into your camera for that perfect photo! Remind your clients to bring these things when they mention they want to include their dog(s).
Tip #5: Have Realistic Expectations of your Dog’s Behavior
Weddings can be stressful days – be honest with yourself with how well you dog(s) handle stress and chaotic situations. Again, this is why my first tip is SO important! That persona can walk away with your dog if they start to have anxiety. Will your dog be happy to participate on your wedding day, or will he (or she) be a ball of nerves for being out of their comfort zone? Don’t set them up, or yourself, for failure and disappointment. You can find ways to include them safely and happily!
At the end of it all, learn to embrace the chaos. Not all dogs sit still or want to fathom the idea of being on a leash. If you know this about your dog going into it, don’t get frustrated with them. Remember that dogs feed off of your energy, and your engagement session and wedding day should be a happy day!
Bonus tips to consider for your wedding day:
• Will your guest be comfortable around your dog(s)? Simple fix: make sure they are leashed. This gives people a sense of security when they are uneasy around dogs.
• Is your venue pet friendly? They may not be.
• Tell your photographer what commands they know – even if they only know “sit.” We don’t need to confuse them.
And there is is friends! My best tips to including Including your Dog in the Engagement Session and on your Wedding day! Pets are a special part of our lives so it only makes sense that we include them in the special moments of our lives. Just remember to be patient, accept their limitations and bring lot’s of treats!