Yesterday in one of my photography groups someone posed a question to the rest of the group…

“Do you allow dogs in your studio?”

There were lots of opinions, many of them “yes, but…” followed by a lot of unrealistic expectations. Here are a few examples:

  • Yes, but they have to be extremely well-behaved
  • Yes, I just clean and sanitize everything they touch afterwards
  • Yes, but the dog has to go to the car once their photos are done
  • Yes, but only if they can sit and stay
  • Yes, but only if they are well-trained
  • Yes, for an extra fee

Here’s my favourite:

“Yes, if the dog: is well-trained, well-behaved, not hyper, ok with strangers touching it, clean, has trimmed nails (preferably trimmed by a groomer), they are only allowed in for a few shots and leave immediately after. They can’t be hyper, excited, or scared; and the owners need to control it and make sure it understands what we want.” (this was all paraphrased from one photographer!)

I also saw and “liked” this comment: “YES, dogs are a part of the family also.”

Although I am sensitive and hurt by a few of these “no’s” at least these photographers are being honest and letting their clients know they are not into photographing dogs. AND to be fair, a lot of these are valid reasons if your specialty lies else ware… 

  • No, dogs seem like a big liability
  • No, I don’t like dogs and have a huge fear of them
  • No, typically not – they mark my studio
  • No, I don’t like dogs, not a fan
  • No, what if they have fleas?
  • No, worried about allergies
  • No, a dog bit me once and it hurt
  • No, I don’t even allow my own dogs in
  • No, you don’t know what you are getting into
  • No, they are a liability and scratch my floors and my props

You might wonder why I am sharing this with you… What’s my point? My point is, when you are looking for a pet photographer, please be sure your pet is actually welcome!

“Pets Welcome” and “Pets Tolerated” do not mean the same thing.

The “pets welcome” photographer probably actually LIKES animals. It usually means that they know a little bit about them, and they’ll probably be patient when your dog slobbers all over their props (because they WILL!!).

The “pets tolerated” photographer is probably going to lack understanding and patience, and as a result the images may be subpar and you’re not likely going to have a very good time. I mean, who wants to go lock their dog in the car while the rest of the family finishes their photos?

AND placing some of these unrealistic expectations on family pets is just plain ridiculous and more importantly, unfair. If I had some of these restrictions, I would never have another client! These dogs don’t actually exist! (maybe that’s exactly what these photographers are hoping for!)

So, what should you look for in a photographer?

  • Check the photographer’s portfolio! Photographers post photos of the things we like to photograph in our portfolio! If you see lots and lots of <insert pet or people type here> , that’s a great sign!
  • ASK your photographer if pets are welcome. If their response is a YES with a long list of restrictions, they are probably “tolerated” not welcome.
  • Ask your photographer if they have experience with animals and animal behaviour.

The reason I, as a photographer, went the pet exclusive route, is because pets are my passion! I can photograph other things, and sometimes do, but animals have my heart. I believe that if the photographer you choose feels the same way as I do, your photos will reflect back their heart and admiration in each and every frame!

If you are a pet parent in Calgary or beyond and are looking for some beautiful artwork to show off your pets, give me a shout! I will be on hiatus until the end of March 2019, but would love to help you out in the spring!