Yay! You've decided to Capture the Magic of your Furry Best Friend!

There is nothing I love more than photographing dogs. They always give us their authentic, true self, which for us humans, is often hard to do. Being able to capture the pure unfiltered innocence, excitement, and curiosity of your pet absolutely gives me life. I want to create these time capsules for you so that you may look back on them years from now and remember not just their sweet face (and that slobbery tongue), but their personality as well. I've composed this guide as a suggestion to make the most out of your pet's photography session. Of course, you know your pet best, so if there's anything on here that just doesn't jive well with your pup, let me know!

Preparing for your Pet Photography Session


It’s never a bad idea to brush up on basic commands. Before our photography session, you can condition your dog to be an even better model! Be sure to have a handful of treats and ask your dog to sit, reward them for doing it, and extend the period of time they hold the sit. If you want to be an all-star, you can also work on stay, lay down, or any fun tricks such as high-five or shake. 

If your dog doesn’t have a clue what “sit” is, please do not worry, I pride myself on being able to work with all dogs regardless of their level of training, personality, special needs, or situation. No matter what we will take some super rad photos!

Poodle Labradoodle Wildflowers Pet photography Cincinnati  Photographer Dayton Ohio

Luna | Indian Hill, Cincinnati, Ohio


If you have an active, wild child pup on your hands your dog will likely benefit from some exercise such as a long walk/run, a trip to the dog park, or even a few hours at doggy daycare. They'll undoubtedly be excited about the new place, new smells, and new experiences, and we'll get down to business more quickly if they've already burned off some energy. However, be sure not to wear your active dog completely out, we want to capture your dog’s true personality and expressions! If your dog is a super chill senior citizen who spends more time napping than anything else each day, some quiet time and rest before his photo session will likely be best.

Regardless of the personality and activity level your dog has, I promise I’ll be sending home a tired dog at the end of your photography session, so don’t plan much for your dog (and maybe yourself!) for the rest of the day.

Rescue dog Pet photography Cincinnati  Puppy photos Dayton Ohio

Finn | Miami Whitewater Forest, Cincinnati, Ohio


Grooming needs will vary by dog breed, but I do suggest a nail trim the week of the photo session for a polished look. For our fluffy pals, I recommend at least trimming up the eyes and mouth. Plan your visit to the groomer at least a few days before our session. New haircuts tend to look better after the first few days, plus it's overwhelming for most pups to go straight from the groomer to a portrait session. If you have a low maintenance pup (lucky you), a refreshing bubble bath the day before the session is a good option for a nice, shiny, clean coat. If you have a dirt-loving dog as I do, pack a few pet grooming wipes for touch-ups.

Colorful Poodle dog Findlay Market OTR Pet photography Cincinnati  Puppy photos Dayton Ohio

Opal | Findlay Market, Cincinnati, Ohio

Style that pup.

Consider your pet's "outfit" and bring a clean, regular flat collar for their portrait, along with a basic 6' lead. If you need a harness or gentle leader for walking, they can always change into the flat color once we arrive at each shoot location. I can't guarantee that I'll be able to remove harnesses, gentle leader, prong color, etc. from your dog's final images. Try to remove any tags from the collar as it will photographer nicer that way. Feel free to bring along any accessories you may want to use such as: bows, bow-ties, bandannas, outfits, etc. We will use them to mix up the photos a bit and give the "awe" factor.

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Lilah | French Park, Cincinnati, Ohio


If your dog’s feeding time is before your photo session, I suggest feeding a smaller portion. While we don’t want your pup extremely hungry if they are a little more interested in food that will be to our benefit. Let’s be honest, a dog who we can bribe makes a great model!

I always carry a stash of treats, but if your dog is picky or has dietary restrictions, please bring something special that they love! Tiny pieces of high-value treats work best (think dime-sized pieces for large dogs, pea-sized pieces for small dogs).

Maltese Rescue dog Pet photography Cincinnati  Puppy photos Dayton Ohio

Max | Delhi, Cincinnati, Ohio


All pets have something that gets them really excited. What words, actions, or things can be used in your session to achieve that excited, inquisitive, or happy look from your pet? Let me know! If your dog has any favorite toys, please bring them with you. We want things that will grab their attention. I will have a few items that will draw your dog’s attention such as a tennis ball and squeaker. If there is anything at all that you know of that makes your pup’s eyes light-up, bring it!

Rescue dog Pet photography Cincinnati  Puppy photos Dayton Ohio

Otto | Oakley, Cincinnati, Ohio


Don't forget to bring water for everyone in your pack, yourself included.

poodle labradoodle water fountain Pet photography Cincinnati  Puppy photos Dayton Ohio

Luna | Ault Park, Cincinnati, Ohio

What to expect during your photoshoot


There’s nothing worse than arriving at a shoot absolutely frazzled and rushed and disconnected. Give yourself lots of time to get to the location so you don’t feel stressed on arrival. Being a lover of natural light, my timing for your session isn’t a coincidence, it is scheduled so that we have the best lighting for your photos. (Trust me: I’m the girl looking at the sunset schedule a year in advance!) Please allow enough time when you find yourself planning and include time for travel or traffic. We will shoot until the sun sets, so if we begin a bit late, we won’t stay late. This just ensures that we are in the right place or the right light and will give you the best results! 

Great Dane dog Pet photography Cincinnati  Puppy photos Dayton Ohio

Daphne | Pleasant Ridge, Cincinnati, Ohio

We will Cuddle.

Well me and your pup will at at least. After we get settled at the location, I will sit on the ground with your pup and give them lots of treats and love while my camera is in their face (best part of my job). I want them to get acclimated to my camera. Having a stranger and a big, weird, foreign object in your face is scary at first and this simply helps create a positive association with me and my camera.

Dog mom and poodle labradoodle dog Pet photography Cincinnati  Puppy photos Dayton Ohio

My dog, Luna and me | Miami Whitewater Forest, Cincinnati, Ohio


The session is strictly a stress-free time. You might be worried that your pet is too (fill in the blank: hyper, shy, untrained, etc) but what I know from my experience is that we will get great shots no matter what! I promise that even if it feels like your pets aren't listening, or if we need to set up a certain shot multiple times, it's totally fine. I expect it! Your pet picks up on vibe, so it's best to relax and have fun! We your dog's personality to shine, so we will embrace the chaos.

Our goal is to get a variety of shots from posed to fun candid. Your furry family will set the pace, and we'll take plenty of breaks as we explore the area. Your job is to relax and trust that we're creating incredible images-- because we are! 

Basset Hound Puppy Pet photography Cincinnati  Puppy photos Dayton Ohio

Alphie | Amberly Village, Cincinnati, Ohio

We will Embrace the UNKNOWN.

Embrace what comes, the wind, the rain, the uncooperative doggo, whatever unfolds. Every shoot is unique, and we have no set pattern. It’s all about those pups and capturing their essence exactly how it is on the day of your shoot. I can’t give you any guarantees of what we will capture, except the beautiful magic of your pet.

Chocolate Lab Rescue dog Pet photography Cincinnati  Puppy photos Dayton Ohio

Cocoa | Amberly Village, Cincinnati, Ohio

you May Want to bring

I can't wait to meet you and your dog! If you have any questions about this guide for you Pet Photography Session, please feel free to reach out to me!

xo, Heather