3 Tips for taking portraits with your pet

Senior portrait with his golden retriever
A boy and his dog, what a great pair!

As a family photographer, I am privileged to work with many diverse types of families. Many times we work with children, and young children need special attention for getting great photos with them. But young children aren’t the only kids that need special consideration in photography. I am talking of course about Fur Babies!

Our pets can be our children too

Over the years I have worked with dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, horses, and even chickens in portraits with my clients. I love to see the interactions and love that is very obvious when these fur babies come in.


I have found over the years that there are few things that will make the portrait experience more enjoyable when your fur babies join you. So here are 3 tips for making portraits with your pets easier on them and you!

Tip #1: Don’t go against your pets personality
You know your fur baby best. And just like any 2 or 3-year-old, working with their personality not against it will make the whole process much easier.

Dog and girl look sad at getting a photo taken
Sometimes the picture just isn’t going to happen


If your dog is always on the go, it is best not to try and get him to sit still.
If your cat doesn’t usually get held, chances are someone will end up bleeding if you try to hold her for a photo.


Plan to work with your pet’s personality and your result will be better.

Tip #2: Communicate info about your pet to the photographer

Photographers will do their best to work with you and your pet, but any help you can give them will make things go smoother. For example, if your pet always comes to the sound of their name, then it is probably not good for the photographer to continually call their name and have them walk out of frame. If you have a dog that gets aggressive if someone gets too close, let the photographer know so that they can keep their distance. Anything that will help is important to communicate to your photographer.

Kitten on man's back

Tip #3: Keep an open mind and reasonable expectations

Just like working with toddlers, pets will have good and bad days in front of the camera and that’s ok! The important part is that they are there, not that they are perfect. Sometimes it is the quirky imperfections that make a memory endearing, like this kitten who only wanted to be on his dad’s back! Sometimes, that is what makes the cutest photos.

I hope these tips help you the next time you have a family portrait scheduled and you want to include the whole family!