How to Prep Your Kitty For a Photo Session
One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job is getting to know a variety of dogs and cats and their hoomans and learning about the unique relationships they have. I think of my job as capturing family members, and in order to tell your pet’s family story, it helps greatly to have some biographical information before the shoot. A few days before the shoot, I ask that you send me a quick paragraph describing your pet’s breed, age, how you found each other, what his or her personality is like, what his or her favorite things are, how they have changed your life and how you have helped them.
In most cases, a shoot with your kitty will take place at your home. We realize that cats are homebodies and would prefer their home to our studio. And, obviously an outdoor session at a park is a little tricky unless your cat doesn’t mind being on leash. That being said, the lighting conditions in most homes is not always ideal. In order to optimize the lighting, we bring along our off-camera flash and soft box. Please note that the flash goes off when I take a picture. We find that most cats (and dogs) get a little startled at first but then get used to it. But, just something to keep in mind!
It’s never a bad idea to have your pet as clean and presentable as possible for their big shoot. After all, you are taking the time and effort to have photos done, so why not have your pet look his or her best? If you are contemplating a full-on grooming session, I do recommend taking care of the grooming a day or two in advance. This will help avoid your running around on the day of the shoot and it will also ensure your pet is not frazzled from having to endure all that torturous grooming. Otherwise, a nice brushing and general clean-up will do as well!
This really only applies to kittens or super active/energetic cats. If you have one of these, try to spend a good amount of time before our session playing with your cat and getting it to run around to get some energy out.
This most likely won’t apply to your session, but believe it or not, we’ve had cats outdoors in nature and on leash! If you’ve looked through our portfolio and blogs, you’ll notice that there usually aren’t any leashes in the photos. You’re probably thinking to yourself, gosh, these cats and dogs must all be so well behaved! Believe it or not, for the majority of those photos you see leash-free, the pup or kitty actually was on-leash! Thanks to the magic of Photo Shop, we are able to make those leashes disappear in post-production.
This is entirely up to you and what you fancy. If you have bows, bow-ties (we LOVE bow-ties/ties), outfits or any other accessories that you would like to utilize in the shoot, I am more than happy to incorporate these in the shoot. Some people enjoy this, others don’t. Wag Your Tail is an equal opportunity accommodator in this arena. These are your photos, after all. I do recommend acclimating your pup or kitty to any such accessories by having them wear them a few times over the weeks ahead of your shoot so they can get used to them (otherwise, they might be munching or swatting at them the whole time!!)
I find it usually helps to have treats on hand to assist with getting your pet to cooperate more easily. However, sometimes, they can also be a distraction as your pet can become preoccupied with them. What I find works best is to use treats only if absolutely necessary and when we do, use them sparingly. I will always have healthy treats on hand, but if there is a treat that your pet loves especially or if there are allergy/digestive considerations, please make sure you have some of your own treats on hand as well.
This piggy-backs on the point about treats. If your dog or cat responds well to squeaky toys, laser-pointers or other play-things, it’s a good idea to have some of these on-hand for the shoot.
I love capturing sweet, funny or simple bonding moments between mom and/or dad and their pets. If that is something you would like and are comfortable with, consider your own outfit for the shoot. While we certainly don’t have any type of dress code, wear something that you feel confident & comfortable in and that will pop in photos. Again, we want you to stay true to yourself, but a little attention to detail never hurts!
Pet owners often make the best pet photography assistants. You are your pet’s world, so it makes sense that you have the most control and charisma over them. While I consider myself an avid animal lover and charmer, I don’t have nearly as much power as you do. So, that being said, consider being as involved in this shoot as you’d like to be.
Don’t stress and don’t worry about your pet’s behavior at the shoot. I find that as the session goes on, the pup or kitty relaxes and actually starts posing on its own. So don’t stress! As you know, any stress that you may have will transfer to your pet. That being said, I completely understand that not all dogs are perfectly trained and not all cats love human interaction. With that in mind, I plan on taking as much time and patience as it will take to get the most amazing shots of your pet. Most of the time, it all works out great. If Fido or Felix are running around and avoiding me for the first half of the session, do not worry! This is part and parcel of the pet photography business and as a pet photographer, I am fully aware of such obstacles. One way or another, I will get great shots. No matter how long or what it takes. If, for some reason, things just don’t work out on our scheduled shoot, I am more than happy to come back another time at no additional charge.