EriePics™ an Erie Photography™ Studio – Professional Photographers

How to Incorporate Your Dog Into Family Photos

If you plan on bringing a pet to your photo session, we here at Erie Photography are more than happy to have you do that. We love furry friends and are always pleased to add them to our sessions! Here are some things you should remember to bring to ensure everything goes smoothly:


  1. A leash. The Pet leash will help you keep your pet near to you and where you want him or her for photos. (They aren’t just for dogs, you know.) Be sure to bring a thinner leash, as they are easier to hide or edit out if necessary.
  2. A friend. Having someone come with you specifically to take care of your pet is ideal. This will help so that your pet is not running around the place or alone in the car, should you wish to take some photos without Fido. 
  3. Treats. Treats are great bribery for your animal. It will help keep your pet still and focused on the camera.
  4. A favorite toy. The noisier, the better. The Toy is also a great tool to help keep your pet’s attention on me. We can also use it for a fun game and get some fun interaction shots.
Wedding on Lake Erie
Wedding on Lake Erie

A Perfect Bond 

The special bond between humans and dogs goes back tens of thousands of years and with good reason. There’s nothing quite like the relationship we have with our canine companions.
For those of us that have dogs, they truly are our “furkids.” When I photograph these furry subjects, I approach it as if they were any other family member, trying to learn as much about their personality as I can and then, hopefully, capture that.

Wedding on Lake Erie
Wedding on Lake Erie
Wedding on Lake Erie
Wedding on Lake Erie

5 Tips for Family Dog Pictures

Here are five tips to keep in mind when your sessions include photographing the family dog:

I often have clients ask if they can bring their dog to their session. I’m always all for it! Does it add extra chaos? Sure, sometimes. But I also find that having their dogs along relaxes people and makes for more natural expressions and poses. Also, clients treasure the images that include their beloved pets.

Wedding on Lake Erie

Consider the dog’s personality.

Timid? Energetic? Nervous? Playful? Excitable? I try to find out as much as I can about each dog and give the dog plenty of time to settle down and adjust to me and my big loud camera. I always click the shutter several times to gauge their reaction, and depending on the dog, and I’ll either back up with a long lens or get in close with a wide-angle lens if they are comfortable with it. The distortion from wide-angle lenses can be perfect for exaggerating expressions on dogs who don’t mind you getting up close and personal!

Wait for it

This probably goes without saying that a lot of patience is required when photographing pets. Think of them as toddlers with fur. I give a bit of direction and then sit patiently for my moment. I also try to make sure the owners aren’t calling the dog’s name or using commands so that I can get the dog’s attention when I need to.

Use locations that have context

I often shoot clients in and around their homes, and I love to do this with dogs, too. It adds meaning to the images and makes them more personal.

Try different levels

Mix it up and capture dogs from different angles:

From above:

shooting from above is great for eye contact and capturing our pets as we most often see them when we look down.

Get on their level:

I do this all the time with little kids; it’s also great for dogs. This makes for an effective connection.

Shoot from the hip, or knee, or ankle: often, when I’m out shooting on the street or even shooting dogs for clients, I shoot from the hip (or knee/ankle if they are a smaller dog!). You get far fewer keepers this way, but it gives a great “dog’s eye view” of the world and is also effective when incorporating motion.

The eyes have it

Who can resist gazing into those eyes? It can be an intensely focused gaze, sweet soulful puppy dog eyes, or anything in between. The eyes help draw the viewer in. A well-timed squeak, cluck, or name call can get the eye contact you want. This particular dog was obsessed with tennis balls, so I held one right on top of my lens.

Wedding on Lake Erie
Wedding on Lake Erie
Wedding on Lake Erie

Over time, I enjoyed shooting dogs and wanted to do more with it, so I started reaching out to local animal shelters to offer free photography services to get better quality images for their online animal profiles. Working with shelter animals has been incredibly rewarding, as a high percentage of dogs I have photographed have found homes quickly after their new images are posted online. Using the techniques above really helps potential owners connect with shelter dogs and want to come to meet them.

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Erie Photography™

Erie Wedding & Event Services
Wedding Disc Jockey | Erie Photography | Wedding Photo Booth | Wedding Videography
1001 State Street, Suite 1400, Erie, PA 16501
814.246.2148 | |

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Erie Photography is a team of talented local photographers. We proudly offer photography for every moment of your life. In addition, we offer a combination of photography styles to suit your needs. Further more, we happily edit in a number of popular styles to complete your success story! Above all, our clients satisfaction is our primary goal.

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