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A Richmond wedding photographer creating bright, bold, and joyful images with a stress-free wedding photography experience.

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Dogs and Engagement Sessions

Bringing Your Dog to Your Engagement Session | Engagement Session Tips

Are you thinking of bringing your pet along with you to your engagement session? Whether it’s your dog, cat, or your horse, I highly suggest including them! Pets are more than furry companions, and are very much a part of the new family you and your fiance are building. I love it when my couples have a pet that they are excited to include in their session! Most often, my couples ask if they can bring their dog. While all pets are welcome at my engagement sessions, I figured I’d share some tips specific to getting gorgeous engagement photos with your doggo! Dogs bring cuteness and fun to sessions, but here are a few things to consider if you are including your pup!

Downtown Richmond Engagement Session with Dog. Photography by Richmond Wedding Photographer Kailey Brianne Photography.

1. They will join in later! No matter what plans my couples have for their engagement sessions, I always start them off with the basics. Getting used to being in front of the camera is so important! It’s hard to get comfortable when dealing with extra props, pets, or other additions, before they even have a grasp of what they are doing. I suggest having your dog join in after your outfit change, and closer to the last 30 minutes of your session.

2. You will need a friend to hang out with them when they are not taking pictures! Having someone sit with your dog in the car, or somewhere nearby, let’s you get used to having fun in front of the camera without any distractions! It’s especially helpful if they can get out any energy during this time, so they are more calm for photos.

Yorktown Battlefield Engagement Session with Dogs. Photography by Richmond Wedding Photographer Kailey Brianne Photography.

3. Come with an open mind, and lots of patience! We all love our dogs! They are the best and cutest out there. However, we also know our dogs are a little crazy, in their own ways. Your dog will have absolutely no idea what is going on, and that’s OK! Just like kids, they don’t understand that you just want to capture their beautiful faces for a photo. They will be sniffing all the smells, hearing all the sounds, and will almost never sit quite where we need them to. This is why I highly suggest having them join for the latter half of your engagement session! By this time, my couples are confident in posing and are less nervous about being in front of the camera. They are easier to direct, and I can focus my attention on making sure their dogs are looking at the camera!

I also tell my couples to ignore whatever craziness their pup is getting into. Most often, when couples go to correct their pup, they will perk their ears straight at the camera for a perfect photo… of the pup looking cute while getting scolded! I have them focus on their posing, and I focus on getting their dog’s attention. I make sure to get at least one, “pretty,” photo of everyone smiling at the camera, but I will go off the personality of the dog for the rest! If your dog just isn’t going to sit for us, that’s OK. We can get great photos of you three walking around, getting pets, or even playing with a favorite toy! The number one thing to remember is to be patient with your dog, and that the goal is to have fun!

Tuckahoe Plantation Engagement Session with Dogs. Photography by Richmond Wedding Photographer Kailey Brianne Photography.

4. Bring water and treats! If your dog has a favorite toy or treat that they always perk up for, bring those along. Anything I can use to help get their attention is great! Even if you are not bringing treats, make sure to bring water and a bowl. It is hard work for them, and they get thirsty! Especially if you are having a spring or summer session, your dog will be extremely thirsty. When they are comfortable and happy, they are much more cooperative!

5. All dogs must be leashed! Even if you have an amazing unicorn dog that will never leave your side, I require that all pets be leashed during engagement sessions. I don’t even want to think of what COULD happen, but the safety of your dog is my number one priority! There are so many negative situations that could arrive from having an unleashed dog, all of which can ruin a lot more than just your photos. Having your dog leashed allows us not worry about any bad possibilities, and to focus on having fun while taking photos with them!

Richmond Capitol Engagement Session with Dog. Photography by Richmond Wedding Photographer Kailey Brianne Photography.

6. Consider their attire! I suggest bringing a collar or leash that you like your dog to be photographed in. I will do my best to hide the leash in photos as much as possible, but it’s always easier when it is a plain black color. Colored leashes can be great, if they are matched to your outfits. I’ve also had couples bring adorable bowtie collars, bandanas, and even hats along! I’d love to know if you are considering a cute, “look,” for a photo or two.

I hope these tips are helpful! If you have more tips to share, feel free to drop them in the comments for others to read 🙂

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