Your dog is basically your baby—you let them sleep in your bed, have a curated slideshow of them on your phone, and couldn’t imagine any part of your wedding without them. Naturally, you want them to be in your engagement photos.
But photographing your pup is never easy; getting them to make eye contact with the camera is something of a Herculean feat, as anyone who has ever tried to Instagram their dog can attest. “In my experience, dogs get very weirded out by the sound of the camera shutter,” says Jenny Fu, a wedding and lifestyle photographer based in New York. “They can only look at the camera for a short amount of time before they are ‘over it’ and just want this to stop. It’s already hard enough to get the perfect photo and emotion you want out of humans, adding a dog to the mix makes the task that much more difficult.”
But that’s not to say it can’t be done. We talked to the experts to get their best tips for including your precious ball of fluff in your engagement photos. Peep their advice (and some adorable inspiration photos) below.
“My secret to getting the dog to look at the camera is to let them smell the treat, ask them to look, put the treat above my lens, take the shot, and then reward them,” says Fu. “This will work for at least the first 10-15 minutes of the shoot, before they no longer want to participate.”
Choose a familiar location
“I always recommend to choose a location that is meaningful to their dog, like the dog’s favorite park,” says Tracey Buyce, a Saratoga Springs-based wedding photographer. That way they are more comfortable and at ease. If your heart is set on a location unfamiliar to your pup, try to take them there a couple of times before the shoot to get them accustomed to the space.
Do your shoot in stages
Buyce recommends doing your engagement session in two stages. She likes to have couples start with their dressier outfits, so that they’re not worried about getting their hair and makeup messed up. Then she has a friend or family member of the couple bring the dog to the next location.
Choose the right photographer
They don’t necessarily need to specialize in photographing animals, says Fu. Rather, she recommends finding someone who either has a dog or works with animals regularly. “Because I have my own dog, I am more aware of their needs. I am able to speak to them in an assertive tone, and generally can get them to look at the camera for a few shots,” she says.