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How to Find the Right Portrait Photographer for Your Dog

By: Laura Pavey

Read By: Pet Lovers
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As the saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words." But, as we found at Pets & People Photography, a picture of a family with their beloved pet is priceless. A portrait creates a lasting memory that will be cherished by the family.

If you are like so many pet owners, your pets are a part of the family, so it is only natural to want to include Spot or Fluffy in family portraits and holiday cards. In fact, almost half of the people surveyed by the American Animal Hospital Association said pets are included in their holiday greetings. This can be especially important for couples without children, or for people whose pet may be their only immediate family.

There is another reason for including pets in family portraits, a side of the business we don't like to focus on: Most of our pets do not live long enough (with the exception of some birds and tortoises). Over the years, pet owners, whose pets have passed away, have been grateful to have had a portrait taken.

Finding the right photographer is the key to capturing your pet's personality and the special relationship you share. You want to find someone who knows how to work with animals and is skilled enough to make both of you look good. There are many talented portrait photographers who may let animals in their studio, but they must know how to work with pets. If they don't, you may wind up with a good picture of yourself, but with your pet looking up at the ceiling.

Your pet should be as important to the photographer as you are. Referrals from friends are good bets. Try to review the photographer's work so you know his or her talents and style. Many photographers have Web sites or brochures. Visiting the studio is also a good idea. You might want to ask a potential photographer the following questions:

  • How much is the sitting fee?

    You need to know why you are getting these pictures taken, as well as what's in your budget. If you want to have a beautiful portrait taken to cherish for years, you may be willing to spend a little extra for the expertise of an accomplished photographer. If you just want more of a snapshot-type of picture you feel you can't do at home, there are photographers who go to pet stores and do on-site snaps. Be prepared, though – you usually get what you pay for.

  • Is the sitting guaranteed? What happens if I don't like my proofs?

    A photographer should guarantee your satisfaction or your money back.

  • Do I have to be in the picture?

    Most photographers prefer to have the owners with their pets. Something magical happens when they are together, but it is not necessary as long as the pet can sit and stay in one place.

  • Should I have a studio or location setting?

    Many photographers prefer the studio, where there are no outside distractions and the subjects (you and your pets) are the focus. But they also have had great success with location shoots. With animals like horses, it's a necessity. It's your portrait, so go with the look you prefer.

  • Should I have my pet groomed before I come?

    This depends on your pet. Generally, unless you know the animal will get dirty, it is best NOT to have him or her groomed the same day as the sitting. It's a lot to ask of them in one day, especially for older dogs.

  • Should I walk my pet before I arrive?

    That's always a good idea. But unless a dog is hyperactive, don't exercise him. It's easier to get a dog to stop moving for the instant it takes to get the shot, than to get an exhausted animal to lift his head.

  • Can I bring more than one pet?

    The objective is to get a family portrait of your entire family, regardless of the number. But you also need to be realistic; if you have five cats and there aren't enough humans to hold them, you may need to take separate pictures holding one or two of them at a time.

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