Dog in field with butterfly on noseYou know it, we know it, and the world should know it – your pet is the most gorgeous creature on earth and they deserve to be memorialised for eternity in photos that capture their good side, better side and best side! 


Not to depress you but as we sadly know, our furry friends are never with us for as long as we would like so having photos of them that capture their character can be a really lovely memento to have. 


Honestly, I didn’t quite know what to expect from my first photo session with Hugo a number of years ago and certainly wasn’t expecting to be on camera myself (I think I even had a stain on my hoody! 🙈) so we thought it would be helpful to give you some top tips on what to expect from a photoshoot with your pet. 


Photographer, Shinu John, has captured (on camera!) many pets over the years and has shared his insights on maximising your pet’s moment in the spotlight.


Finding a Photographer


Whilst there are lots of photographers around, be sure to find a photographer that specialises in and has experience photographing pets. Pets have their own unique way of interacting in a photography session and shooting a pet (in the photographic sense!) has its own considerations to ensure the photos do them justice. 


An obvious but important one is also to find a photographer near enough to where you are located. If you are having the photoshoot in your own home or garden, a photographer will often have a limit in terms of how far they will travel for a session. If you are going to the photographer’s studio for the shoot, you will likely not want to be travelling too far with your pet. The other factor is that once the prints are ready from the session you may be required to travel to the photographer’s studio to view these and select the photos you would like to purchase or that you can select as part of your package. 


Painting style photography of ballerina with catStyle of Session


It may be that you have found a photographer, love the style of their work and you decide to book one of the photo session packages that they offer – simple! 

If however, you know you want professional photos of your pet but haven’t yet identified a photographer some key factors to consider are the preferred backdrop for the photographs and the style of the photograph that you are hoping to achieve. Obviously, the type of pet you have can impact these decisions – we have photographed cats, dogs, ferrets, all sorts! 

  • Home-based Session: Some people like the idea of capturing their pet in their own home or garden as a snapshot of them in their own surroundings and life. In some instances, this may also keep the pet more relaxed as there are fewer environmental changes for them to take in. 


  • Location-Specific Session: Others have a preference for a photo shoot in a specific location such as a favourite local woodland where they walk their dog. 


  • Studio-based Session: The other option is a studio-based session, where you bring your pet to the photographer’s studio where the session is held. 


  • Style: Are you looking for a photo of you with your pet, a family shot with them, your pet on their own relaxed or action shots of your pet running or playing? These questions can impact the photographer you choose depending on what they specialise in and also the location that you want. Be sure to also review the photographer’s portfolio to get an idea of whether they focus on black and white photography, capturing emotional moments, capturing fun etc. to ensure that their style is aligned with what you have in mind. 


For me, as a photographer, I want to know how flamboyant you want your session to be – are you looking for something absolutely epic, never created before, crafted uniquely for you and your furry buddy or are you looking for something more casual that captures a feel-good vibe with your pet. This will help me decide what sort of session is best suited for you. 

Once you have decided what you are looking for it will be easier to look for a photographer that provides sessions that meet these needs and see their portfolio. It is a great idea to have a call with the photographer to understand their process and ensure that you are both clear on expectations in relation to the session and the output. 


Staffordshire Bull Terrier with gold collar and smileBefore the Photoshoot


Once you are all booked in here are some top tips for ensuring a successful day for all and images that you will treasure: 

  • Hair & Makeup! If you like your dog’s coat groomed a certain way be sure that you have left enough time for them to be groomed in the days before the photoshoot or you have had a chance to brush them that morning. Don’t plan to take your dog for a walk in a muddy woods before their session if you are aiming for them to look gleaming in their photoshoot! 😁 Photoshoots are an investment so considering little items what collar you want to put on your pet that day can help in getting photos that delight you but do remember you want your pet to look like themselves so don’t overthink it too much. 


  • Exercise: Before the photoshoot, you will want to ensure that your pet has had sufficient exercise or play so that they do not have an abundance of excess energy to burn off. This will help them remain calm during the session and enable the photographer a better chance of getting some great shots. This will be particularly important for studio-based sessions where they will be in a new environment. 


  • Toilet Breaks: Accidents definitely happen but where possible try and ensure your pet has had a chance to go to the toilet before the photo session so that there is less chance of them embarrassing themselves on camera – they may never forgive you…


  • Prepared: Be sure to bring some of your pet’s favourite toys and some treats for during the session as they are extremely helpful in getting our furry friends to focus and to enable us to capture the right shot but they can also help provide some distraction if your pet needs a bit of downtime at any stage during the session. 


PetMatch Two Cents: And don’t forget if you are going to be in the photos remember to wear clothes that you are happy to be photographed in and brush your hair so you don’t get entirely upstaged by your pet like I did! 


Dog wearing red bowtie standing in front of microphoneLights, Camera, Action


A pet photography session will typically last around 1 – 2 hours but that will depend on the type of session you have booked with your photographer. For on-location shoots, the photographer will need to get set up in your agreed location with their equipment. For studio-based shoots, the session will start shortly after you arrive, the process has been explained to you and your pet is ready for their moment!


Your photographer will likely try various scenarios to capture your pet in different “poses” and to really bring out the essence of their character, be that in their interactions with you and/or other family members or on their own. 


If your pet is showing any signs of stress or agitation, the photographer will suggest a short break to enable them to reset and get comfortable. If you notice this in your pet, be sure to request a break on behalf of your pet. A pet photo session is intended to be a fun session for both you and your pet so that beautiful moments can be captured, no pet should be uncomfortable or stressed out by the experience. 


Once the session is wrapped, your photographer will give you an indication of when your photographs will be ready for review and then you are free to take the star of the show home, let them put their paws up and relax after a tough day! 


After the Lights Go Down


A few days or weeks after your session (depending on your photographer) you should be able to view the photos from the session and select which ones you wish to keep. A certain number or size of print may be included in your agreed package with your photographer and additional prints may be available at an extra cost. Once you have received your precious memento you can then hang these as pride of place! Just remember to keep some space on the wall for the next one…


Shinu John is a photographer specialising in both people and pets and creating truly unique imagery that captures the essence of life. He loves to travel and believes that travelling has taught him a lot about humans and the things they cherish the most (one of them being their pets!!) Shinu is a big animal lover and has worked with several animal rescues in the past photographing their animals, events etc. He reserves the right to cuddle all pets who come into his studio for a photo session!

Shinu provides unique and original options for capturing your pet. Their top-end and Luxurious Art Commissions package which starts at €990 is aimed at those who want the truly unique and want to create a moment of theatre in blending photography with fine art. Their Epic Portrait Bundle (starting at €490) is perfect for those who want to experience an amazing in-studio session either with or of their four-legged friends. Alternatively, they offer a mini-session bundle for those who like to experience what it’s like to have an amazing portrait session with their furry buddy. More details on all of these packages can be found at shinujohn.com/pets

PetMatch in Partnership with Shinu John Photography