Are You Ready to Strike a Pose?

Pet photography is big business. Whether you choose a boutique photographer to create a unique photographic testimony to your fur family, or head down to your local department store pet portrait studio, it's not hard to find someone ready to take a creative portrait of you and your dog.

But if you're not up for paying for a professional pet portrait — or don't relish the hassle of trying to get your pup to strike the perfect pose while your photographer is on the clock — you can do it yourself. With just a little preparation, and maybe a little help from a friend, you can create your own unforgettable pet portrait right at home.

Step 1: Choose Your Theme

What sort of portrait would you like to create? This is the most important question you'll face. Here are some questions you might ask yourself:

  • Do you want a formal portrait, or something relaxed and off-the-cuff?
  • Posed or an action shot?
  • Who will be in the portrait?
  • What do you want the portrait to tell the world about you and your dog?
  • Are you going for a certain mood? Serious? Humorous? Sporty? Loving?

Think of it this way: if you wanted to caption your portrait, how would the caption read? Is there one word that describes your relationship with your Jack? What is that word, and how would you express it in terms of an image?

Step 2: Choose Your Location

After theme, location is the most important consideration. This will dictate your choice of equipment, lighting, costumes, and props.

The first question, of course, is indoors or outdoors?

Outdoor portraits

The great outdoors is a natural and striking choice for a portrait of a JRT. You might consider a place that's significant to you and your dog — a favorite strip of beach, or a special clearing in the woods. Or even your own back yard.

On the other hand, with an outdoor setting, you'll be at the mercy of the weather. It's not such a problem in temperate climates, but if your area's weather is variable, you might end up having to reschedule. You'll also have to make sure that the area you choose is free of hazards, such as wild animals or cars.

Indoor portraits

An indoor portrait has the advantage of a highly controlled environment. You (or your photographer) will have ultimate control over lighting, temperature, entrance/exit, and so on. If you're thinking about a formal, posed portrait, an indoor setting might work best for you.

Public vs. private spaces

If you choose to take your portrait in a public place, whether that place is indoors or out, it's important to make sure that dogs are welcome, and that your photo shoot won't be disrupting other users' enjoyment of the space.

Unusual locations

A unique location will give you a unique portrait. Consider these:

  • In a car or other vehicle
  • On playground equipment
  • In a typically “human” place like at a desk or at the table
  • In a garden

Step 3: Costumes and Props

Theme? Check. Location? Got it. Equipment and lighting? Sorted. Now it's time for the fun stuff.

Aside from your dog — and any humans you might want in the portrait — are there any special objects that would make a good addition? A favorite toy or blanket?

And what about furniture? Does your dog have a special bed, chair, or part of the sofa that they've claimed as their own?

What about costumes? Or is your pup gorgeous just as they are?

Step 4: Strike a Pose!

Here are some classic pup portrait poses you might consider.

Extreme Close Up

Your Jack's face is their most expressive part. And accentuating the face with a closeup can convey your dog's personality like nothing else. Whether you're going for silly, serious, flirty, coy, or any other emotion, a focus on the face can tell your story bright and clear.

From Above

Looking down over your pet — and anyone else — can give your portrait a very specific intimacy, as well as accentuating the vulnerability of the subject. It's great for capturing the relationships between pets and children, in particular.

Nose to Nose

One of the best ways to capture your relationship with your dog is a nose-to-nose picture, up close and personal, gazing into each other's eyes. Or making faces at each other, whatever works best.

Sleepytime

Sometimes the only time a Jack holds still is when it's sleeping. But that's OK! You can get some amazing snooze portraits as well.

Still can't get enough poses? Check out what photo experts Adoramapix have to say about pet portraits!

Featured Image: CC0 by Magda Ehlers, via Pexels