Canberra pet photographer - Gracie posing formally

How to prepare your pet for a photography session – Canberra pet photographer

Pet photography can be scary for animals especially if your pet is quite timid.

You are super excited about the day as you will be spending the next 1 hour to 1.5 hours having fun with your dog, cat, or even horse.

But there is an extra dimension that you may not have thought of.  There will be a stranger (photographer) that your animal has not met and there may be something weird noises and flashing lights – (strobes or studio lights).

This could be enough for any pet with a huge personality to shake at the knees.

Therefore, pet photography is no different from family or wedding photography in that you need to prepare for a pet photography session to ensure that you get the most out of the session.

Bath time and grooming

The first place to start is bath time as people want their pets to look their best on photoshoot day.  That is an awesome way to prepare for your photoshoot especially if they have long hair.  Do not forget to bring some dog grooming wipes especially if your dog is quite active and enjoys running around or getting up to mischief.

Alternatively, I good brush may be sufficient to look their stylish and impressive best.

If your pet is accustomed to regular clipping, it is best that you do not schedule your grooming session the day before your photoshoot.  Give it at least a few days or even a week before your photoshoot.

Lastly, if your pet is a little scruffy around the face, it is best to get it tidied up so your photographer can clearly see your pet’s eyes.

Collars and harnesses

The choice of neckwear (collar or harness) is important as they generally stay on during your photoshoot.  While leads are easy to remove for photographs or in post-processing.  Don’t forget your favourite neckwear if your dog enjoys wearing bowties or even neckties. The Sophisticated Pet in Sydney has some amazing neckties for your pet.

If the collar is looking tatty or marked, then it is probably best to swap it out for a new collar or harness.  I prefer for my pet to have a collar or a harness as it is easier to photoshop if there is only a small amount showing.

Do not forget to remove council tags that may be hanging from the collar.  They can be quite distracting in photographs.


Have you got a tear-about pet that is full of energy then it might be best to take your pet on a long walk just prior to your photo session?  It not only allows them to stretch their legs, but it also allows them to burn off that excess energy.

But be careful not to overdo it as you still want your pet to show their personality and expressions not be dead to the world once the camera comes out.

Arrive early

Depending on the pet and their personality, it is advisable to arrive a little early so your pet can familiarize themselves with the area, photography studio, and the photographer.

In particular, dogs are keen to sniff and smell their new surroundings.

There can be a lot happening in a studio with lights going off, so it is wise to use some time to get to know his surroundings and get used to strobes firing and allow some general exploration.


A good pet photographer will have some treats with him to coach and incentivise your dog or cat into position.  Food is a wonderful motivator for humans and for animals.

I like to supply 100% healthy and natural snacks during the photoshoot.

However, it is possible that your pet will not appreciate the snacks that your photographer will have.  Therefore, it is important to bring some of your pet’s favourite treats and snacks to make sure they stay still and be receptive to tricks.

If your pet has a food allergy, please do not forget to let your photographer know.

You should also only feed your pet a light meal before the photo session cause of the use of treats and snacks doing the photoshoot.

Toys or other props

Another way to motivate your pet and get their attention is through the use of their favourite toys or other props whether it is an old blanket or god forbidden an old, chewed shoe.

While I will have some toys and props, nothing beats their favourite things as they are familiar with them.  They will also provide an extra layer of comfort for your pet.

Review basic commands

During your session, your pet will be required to sit or to stand still for a period of time.  It is, therefore, best if you practice your basic commands like sit, stand, and stay as preparation for your pet photography session.  Your pet will also enjoy it as it should be treat motivated.

Be patient with your pet if he’s not performing up to standard during their session. Sometimes the best shots come from dogs just being dogs and cats being cats when their true personalities are shining through!

Corgis sitting on the lake edge

Don’t worry and don’t stress

You should accept that your pet will not behave the whole time of the photoshoot.  In fact, your pet may choose that they do not want to behave at all.  Sometimes they will not take to photographic direction.

But don’t stress….

Your pet will pick up on any stress that is overcoming you in the lead-up of the photo session or during the photo session.  Your photographer should be experienced in animal management and should be in full control of the photoshoot.

In summary

Here is a quick checklist to prepare for a pet photography session:

  • Arrange for any grooming a week before your photo session where clipping is involved;
  • Bring a brush to give them a good brush to look their stylish best;
  • Bring a new collar and other neckwear that they like wearing;
  • Take your pet for a quick walk before the photo session, but be careful not to tire them out;
  • Have ready their favourite snacks with you;
  • Bring with you their favourite toy or blanket;
  • Practice the basic commands with your pet;
  • Don’t’ stress, the photo session will be just perfect.

You have made all the necessary preparations; your pet is nice and clean.  Now it is time to sit back and relax until the big day.

If you’re ready to book your session now or if you just want some more info then you can visit here.

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