Pups add laughter and light into our lives, so what better way to celebrate them than to capture their spirit in a photographic portrait? While every pet portrait session is unique, I have a few favorite go-to shots that I think everyone should have as part of their gallery. Check out my top 7 must-have dog photos for every session.

Cattle dog puppy standing on a wooded trail

Barkus posing on a wooded trail

1. the classic posed shot

This is always a crowd-pleaser as it's a great way to showcase your dog's looks. While this shot works best with dogs that have a solid 'stay,' it can be done even with the rowdiest of pups. All I need is a few seconds of attention and we're golden. This can be done in any environment - nature, urban, indoor studio. I'll generally use treats, a squeaker, or even the pet parent standing behind me to hold the pup's attention.

White and brown pitbull dog standing in a park

Ginger busy watching other dogs at the park

2. candids

During sessions, we always take breaks as the dog needs them. This gives them the chance to get a drink, chill out if they're getting stressed, or just run around and play for a minute. Sometimes I'll take these breaks as an opportunity to sneak in a few shots of them just being themselves. Sometimes they're running around playing, and sometimes they're just enjoying a lazy moment. Either way, these images showcase pups just being themselves.

Black and tan pitbull dog lying in a park with her head tilted to the side

Indie showing off her head tilt

3. the head tilt

Have you ever noticed your dog tilt their head when they hear a particularly interesting sound or trigger word? Not all dogs I've worked with are head tilters, but when they are, I make sure we capture that. My own dogs are split - Anya never does head tilts, Omega will do them when he's not super nervous, and Arawn does amazing head tilts. I bring an arsenal of noisemakers to every session (including myself - I can make some pretty ridiculous noises with my mouth) so that we can try to get some awesome head tilts from your pup.

Belgian malinois dog sitting in a field of lavender, seen from above

Arawn in a field of lavender

4. Owner's Eye View

This is often a favorite of pet parents. This shot, taken from above, is how you see your pup every day, which is why I call it the owner's eye view. Although often less unique than some of the other must-have dog photos, this shot is a true representation of your life with your pup.

Doberman lying on a dock overlooking a pond with her female owner's arm around her

Wylee and her mom sharing an intimate moment

5. share the love

If you're comfortable getting in front of the camera with your pup (or even if you're on the fence about it), this is one of the most important images I can capture for you! We all have a million photos of our dogs on our phones, but how many do you have of you and your pup together? The images depicting the special bond you share with your dog will become some of the most cherished ones you have when they're no longer with you.⁠

Cattle dog shaking paws with her owner

Luna showing off the 'shake' command

6. tricks for treats

This won't apply to every pup (remember, your dog doesn't have to be an obedience superstar to participate in a session). If your dog knows some fun commands, though, we'll capture them during your session. Some of the most common are 'shake,' 'hive five,' and 'sit pretty.' Does your dog know others? Whatever their unique skill is, I'll make sure to photograph it!

Cattle dog catching a Frisbee on a sandy beach

Ashe catching her Frisbee out at Folsom Lake

7. action

Whether your dog is a Frisbee-catching maniac or just likes to play tug in the backyard, action shots are always a fun addition to any session. For some dogs, this includes images of them catching a Frisbee or ball, and for others, it's just running toward the camera. I always bring a long leash with me so that we can safely capture action shots even if your dog cannot be off-leash.

Ready to capture some of these must-have dog photos of your own pup? Book your complimentary consult to get started!


Don't forget to continue following the blog circle to read about everyone else's must-have shots from their sessions. Up next is Nancy Kieffer Photography, capturing the journey with your pet! Serving Syracuse, Central New York, the Adirondacks and Beyond.

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