This week let's talk about what your dog should be wearing for their photography session. There are so many different options, let's start with the most common options which includes my recommended collar.
Most of the dogs I photograph have collars. In fact, I think a good portion of the people I meet keep collars on their dogs all the time except perhaps bath time. I fall into this category with my girls - all wear collars with the required tag and an id tag. Photographing a dog with a collar is the most common scenario. My favorite collars are simple, solid color collars. Nothing fancy, you want the focus on your dog not their collar. Sure, right now you might have a very trendy collar on them, but will you still have and like that trendy collar in 5 years?
The best collars for a photography session are:
1) Solid color collar
2) Blends or contrasts nicely with your dogs fur
3) Doesn't have excess collar length (if it has a buckle as opposed to snap lock)
Here's an example of a basic collar by AMAGOOD found on Amazon.com
Here's an example of an aqua collar on a black dog - good color combination to provide some color on a dark dog.
While we are discussing collars, let's think about a few points to consider:
1) Collar with no tags for the photography session
2) What tags are on the collar? (nothing that will take attention from your dog's beautiful face)
3) Minimize the tags on the collar for the photography session
4) Non reflective collars if they will reflect back at the camera when we photographers use lights in our photography sessions (we don't want the collar to pick up that light)
5) No martingale collars because it makes it harder to make the collar look like a leash is not attached in final photographs
Here's an example of the martingale collar which has 'chain' for the slip portion of the collar. The leash is laying on the ground in front of the dog, this is a challenging photographic technique that would need to be corrected on all photographs or the collar/leash has to be positioned such that this doesn't show. Hence the reason I prefer not use these collars in a photography session.
Having said all this, I will photograph your dog with whatever collar you have or want the dog photographed in. These are things I have picked up over the years and realize what makes the color less a prominent part of the portrait.
Yep, no collar, no harness, just the dog as nature intended. This often is not a choice in the outdoors depending on your dog's training, but some people don't have their dogs wearing collars except when outside the home. If that's the case, then certainly it's an option - but there are some things to consider.
1) Is your dog in a safe environment? Perhaps indoors at their home?
2) Will your dog stay if there is something interesting going on outside of the photography session? (did a squirrel just run down the tree?)
3) Does your dog have very good recall ? (you call them, they stop and come back immediately)
A dog harness is a great option for walking your dog. I highly recommend the "Easy Walk harness". All of my dog's have an "Easy Walk" harness and when we are out walking, that's what the sport on their bodies. They all have a bit of pull and I think it gives me more control over them without choking. Abby, my largest dog, has more pull when she is 'going after something', so with the Easy Walk harness I actually put the center where the leash attaches on her chest. She pulls hard, I pull her and she is pulled away from whatever that something is. My smaller dogs have the Easy Walk harness with the leash attached on the back as one would normally expect.
However, a harness is not the best looking idea for a photograph. If once we complete a little walk for your dog to explore and we are now ready to photograph, I refer to take off the harness. I can attach a lead if they don't have a collar or there is still a 'flight risk'. Using a lead the dog doesn't have the ability to easily slip out providing it is kept snug. Many rescue dogs wear leads when we photograph them. I use basic slip leads not show leads. Small leads for smaller dogs, big leads for bigger dogs. Show leads are great, but I have to many dogs chewing throw in a minute and then singing "I'm Free"!
Blaze is wearing a slip lead in the photograph below - the portion around his neck was left as a 'collar' and the leash part of the lead was removed in post processing.
Typically if your dog must wear a harness, then I photograph with the harness but it's in the final photograph a good majority of the time. It's best to remove the collar if they are going to be wearing a harness in the photograph. This rescue dog was at risk of taking off and this was a big open area for him to run, so we had both a collar and a harness on him for his photography session to ensure he didn't sing "I'm Free".
This is a personal project that I try to participate in each week (as much as possible). This post is part of a 'blog circle' which is with several other Professional Pet Photographers around the world. Each week a different theme is provided to the group and we, as pet photographers, interpret the theme in our own way. Follow the link provided at the end of each of my blogs to the next pet photographer's blog - and when you arrive back at my blog - you've completed the entire circle of blogs for this theme. For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Jemma from JM Photography in Suffolk, looks at the different collars and accessories she likes her client's dogs to wear for a photoshoot.
Interested in a Pet Photography Session?
If you would like to discuss or book a custom pet portrait session, send an email to [email protected] or give us a call/text Linda at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Hillsborough/Pinellas/Pasco/Polk counties in Florida). We have flexible rates and packages to fit most everyone’s budget as we believe that having wonderful photographs of your pet is important to so many people.