What to Bring for Your Pet Photography Session

Apr 25, 2023 | San Diego Pet Photographer

How to Prepare and What to Bring

You’ve officially booked your professional dog photography session…so exciting! Although much of this and more was covered during the planning session, I’m sure you have some questions swirling around in your head (it’s totally normal!) or things you may have forgotten already. If two of those questions are “How do I prepare for the photoshoot?” and “What should I bring?”, this is the blog post for you!



We suggest grooming your pet within a week of their photoshoot to make sure they look their best just like a child getting ready for school picture day. If you go to an actual groomer, we suggest doing it at least a few days before the session to give them some time to decompress in addition to letting their coat “relax” a bit. If you are lucky to have a dog full of scruff, we suggest trimming the hair around their eyes to allow them to be the star of the show. If for some reason your pet is having skin issues, it’s best to begin treating it before the session to lessen the chances of irritation and scratching. Don’t forget to get their nails trimmed.


Depending on how active your pet is depends on when you should bathe them. For some, a week prior to the big day may be perfect. On the other hand, if you have a very active dog or one who tends to play a bit too hard (you know who you are), a day before your planned session may be ideal.  If you’re unsure, it’s always nice to have backup grooming wipes like these for touch ups.

*For both grooming and bathing, we kindly ask you don’t do either of these on the same day as your photo session.

Dog being groomed with towel on it's head

What should your pet wear:

Keep it simple! There are copious amounts of tools and accessories for your pets these days: collars, harnesses, martingales, gentle leader, prong, e-collar, bandanas, flower crowns, sweaters, and the list can go on and on.

Unless you have a special connection with an item, a simple collar and leash will do. If you aren’t sure, feel free to bring the item along and we can see if we can incorporate it into the shoot. Leashes will be edited out of the final images. Due to the complex nature of other accessories, they will not be edited out.


Think about your dog’s daily exercise needs and routine when choosing their activity for the day prior to the photo session. Their personality is the star of the show, so we don’t want them to be completely exhausted or extremely hyped up upon arrival. If your pet is a senior or mellow, your best course of action is likely to have them rest before the session. If your pet is a busy body, a good long exercise a couple of hours before the session should be great. No matter your dog’s personality and energy level, I suggest getting to your photo location 10 minutes early so they can go to the bathroom and a “sniffari”.

Practice commands and tricks:

If you have any skills you’ve worked on with your dog, it never hurts to do some short practice sessions (even 5 minutes a day is okay!) as a refresher. Sit, stay, down, shake and any other tricks your pet may know is amazing. If you’re shaking your head thinking your dog can’t do any of this, I can assure you we will capture stunning portraits no matter their skill level.


We don’t want your pet to have an empty belly, but I’m sure you also know the magic that can happen when your pet wants those high value treats. Depending on the time of your photo session, you may want to feed them a half portion of their food a few hours before the shoot. If they haven’t been fed, they will likely be more antsy and different to gain their focus. On the other hand, we don’t want them to be too full for them to ignore our treats and/or toys.


What to wear:

While this experience is primarily focused on your beloved animals, I promise you that you need at least a couple of photos with them (you’ll thank me later). That said, we want you to feel confident and comfortable!

Consider the photo session location to guide your outfit with color and style. Pants tend to always be ideal especially when photographing in outdoor locations. Although many of us gravitate towards black and white, I encourage you to branch out with other colors and to coordinate with your pets and other humans who may be photographed. For example, if near the ocean, shades of blue always look great. If going out to a park or trail, earth tones provide a balance to the scenery. You can even go vibrant and bold as shown in the photo below which works because of the dark background and the same hue of flowers. If you have a vision, let’s plan it!

Two dogs sat at owners' feet

What to bring:

  • Collar and leash
  • Various high-value treats – don’t skimp on this
  • Toys – make sure it’s their favorites (varying noises are good too)
  • Water and water bowl
  • Poop bags
  • Brush (if your dog has luscious locks and needs a last minute grooming)
  • Grooming wipes if desired
  • Anything else you’d like!

None of us are perfect and neither is your pet. Your photography experience is supposed to be a fun and relaxed adventure that includes letting your “your dog be a dog”. Your most important job is to be fully in the moment with your pet while you leave the managing of the session to me.

Lastly, don’t forget your pet! Just kidding…that was a given.

We can’t wait to see you soon! Don’t hesitate to reach out if something was missed.