Black and white dog, Mucca, doing a big yawn, wearing a blue and white plaid bandana on a black photography backdrop in Milan.

5 Things for a Guaranteed Time-Out, if Done Before a Photo Session


Booking a portrait session for your pet has tons of advantages. Mainly, that you’re in the hands of a professional. That being said, us pros can’t do all the work. Here’s 5 things you shouldn’t do before you book a session, unless you and your dog want some time-out time!

#1 – Don’t give them a big meal!

Think about the last time you downed a big bowl of creamy carbonara. Or that time you had one tiramisu too many. You know,  the feeling of risotto’ing too hard.

How did you feel after? Did you want to up and go to work? NO! A full belly = nap time. Your body is doing a lot of work breaking down that meal, so you need to rest and let it.

So exactly for that reason, it’s best to not give your bestie a meal before arriving. Bonus points if they arrive hungry. Why? Because part of my bag of tricks involves lots of tasty treats.

I get that laser focus on a spoonful of peanut butter,  but I’ll also use little bits of uber delicious treats to let your pet know: my studio is basically Doggy Disneyland. It’s fun! And these strange noises only mean good things are to come.

#2 – Don’t arrive tired.

Warning: this one is a trick question – it’s a delicate balance. Read on to see why:

Small, tiny, brown and white, sleeping puppy on a black blanket in the grass with a small pink flower laying next to it.
Puppy too sleepy. This won’t do!

I get it. I have dogs that need lots of exercise so we spend long mornings at the park. This can be a good thing, if your bestie tends to enjoy bouncing off the walls as a pastime.  Sometimes if I over-caffeinate I have strong desire to rehash all the gory details of the shower drain I had to clear the hairy slime out of the night before, to my husband, work calls be damned!

But once I get it out of my system, it’s all good.

If you have a pup that needs to blow off a buildup of some steam, yes. Exercise them before, per favore.

What we don’t want, however, is for them to show up totally pooped. In most cases this can be the ultimate goal for dog parents with a Rowdy Rover at home. If they show up to the studio half asleep, well, you’re going to get a lot of beautifully lit photos of your pup, eyes closed. That might not be what you had in mind.

#3 – Don’t forget the wee.
Mucca, the blue merle dog, with a bored look on his face between two tree trunks, speckled green and brown, on a sunny day outdoors in Parco Vittorio Formentano in Milan, Italy.
“Hey! Stop starin’ and pass me a leaf!”

Pee. And poop. It’s part of my job. Hey, someone’s gotta do it!

However, if it can be avoided, let’s avoid it. A brief walk to burn off some energy, get in some sniffs, and empty the tanks (both ends!) is worth its weight in gold.

I do have insurance on all my gear should the worst happen, but I also have a lot of trouble talking to the agents in such technical terms in Italian. Let’s not go there!

#4 – Don’t walk in with wet hair!
Mucca, the white dog with gray patch over his left eye, in a photo studio in front of a white backdrop with a drowsy look on his face, wearing a white bath robe and a gray towel wrapped around his "wet hair" next to a big gray pillow.
Wet hair. Not dressed. Sleepy. GET OUT OF HERE!

This was one of the “cultural differences” I learned pretty quickly after moving to Italy. I’d gone to the gym one summer right before lunch and was meeting a friend at a local restaurant shortly after. So, naturally, I took a quick shower and let my locks air-dry (going for that beachy look!) then head out to lunch. Only to be stopped and given an earful by my a-little-too-upfront neighbor about how I was going to catch a cold and meet my early demise. In June. Under the blazing midday summer sun.

Ok. If YOU want to show up with wet hair, this American gal won’t judge. But if your dog arrives, fresh out of the bath, or in the nude while there’s a torrential downpour outside, you’ve just added an extra 20 min to your session while we dry and fluff.

If your dog requires particular grooming, it’s worth mentioning, to plan that into the week or so before the shoot, depending on their needs. Or if their bangs usually need a few days to lay flat again.

Finally….drumstick roll please….

#5 – Don’t forget to trust the pros!
Carol (red hair in a yellow sweater) sitting on the floor photographing a yellow labrador retriever in front of her in a professional photo studio with sparkly lights on a white backdrop.
Leave it to the pros!

That’s me. I’m here to help you! From everything to outfit coordination, color choices and which frame will look best on grandma’s navy blue gallery wall of all the grandchildren.

I’m constantly revisiting my process to always deliver the best experience and doing my best to learn everything about you and what makes your bestie(s) so special to you. So I can turn that bond into forever-art. If you have any questions or would like to know anything (even what flavor treats I’m giving out this week!) my number is all over this site, and I’ll even leave it again here: +39 392 252 6457. Just call or send a WhatsApp message and let me know! I GOT YOU!

Ready to book your next Doggy “Disneyland” trip? AKA – portrait session?!

Talk to me, Baby!


This post is part of a blog circle of some of the most uber-talented pet photographers all over the world. Keep reading to see how other photographers recommend their clients prep for their custom portrait sessions.

Up next: Northern California pet photographer Kylee Doyle of Kylee Doyle Photography shares her top tips to prepare your reactive dog for his outdoor pet portrait session.

Follow the circle until you land back on this page. Enjoy!

About the Blog

Welcome to the Apawture Studios Blog where you'll learn about everything from poses to wet noses and all things fashion pet photography. Sign up for the VIPP(Very Important Pet Parent) Newsletter to be the first to know what we're up to.

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  1. Darlene

    LOVE your posts, Carol! Always make me smile and so fun to read! Thank you!!!

    • THE Carol Mudra

      Thanks, Darlene! We definitely like to keep things fun around here!



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