Goofy dog face (like Joker!) featured image

Can your bestie be A Killer Model In The Pet World?


Yes! Obviously. Here’s how.

You’re scrolling through the socials and yet another awesome photo pops up from Apawture Studios. It’s a cute dog in a perfectly poised pose, with a head tilt so cute it could destabilize any force of power, dressed to the 9’s.

And you think “Oh my dog. If only, Mr. Tortellini were that sophisticated!”

Gus the chihuahua making a funny face with some blue light on the side.
“You’d best be capturing my good side, madame.” – Gus, as we were experimenting with blue light gels.

News flash: what you see on social media isn’t always the whole truth. It’s much more likely that that poised pup was bouncing off the walls. Or they were more interested in the bird fluttering outside the window, than that click-y box thing pointed at them.

Someone wise once defined having a bikini body as this:

Have a body + Put a bikini on it = Bikini Body!

Pet photography is much the same way.

Have a pet + Bring it to Apawture Studios = Awesome Portraits!

It’s that simple!

Hard to believe, I know. But that’s why you call upon a professional.

I have all sorts of tricks up my sleeves. “But what if it’s hot and you have no sleeves, Carol?” you ask. Well I’ve got a trick for that too! (Spoiler: It’s called “putting on a different shirt.”)

No sits, stays or downs required!

While basic training is always nice to have, it’s not essential in most cases. Now, if you want a treat-catching photo and your dog doesn’t know how to catch a treat, that’s a problem.

The idea is always to have fun. Dogs often look to us for guidance in strange situations. If you’re nervous that they aren’t “performing” or stressed that they prefer to nose around a bit, they will know! That will directly translate to photos with not-so-happy expressions on their faces.

So what’s there to do?

Because I am a generous woman, I will share my most important secrets. These ensure that your photo session is fun for everyone and goes well.

1. Put a leash on it!
The single, easiest solution to a wandering puppy in the studio is to put them on a leash. It’s a gentle way to guide them to the correct spot on the photo set, and it’s also extremely easy to hide. A little photoshop magic and VOILA! Not even a trace of that leash will remain.

Chiquita was a super model up on his furry ottoman throne!

2. Sit up!
Edges work wonders! Another fun trick I use to keep a pet in their proper place is to put them up on something. If they are small enough we can use a chair or a small ottoman. Or for our bigger Besties, I have platforms that can go under the backdrop so that they feel stable. It’s all about their comfort level. Sometimes just having a spot to rest on will buy me enough of a second to snap a few shots.

Puppy pitbull playing with a red, white and blue rope toy, looking kind of crazy.
Sometimes you can simply drag them into place with a rope toy. GENTLY!

3. Toy with me, please!
Some dogs are more motivated by play then they are by treats. This can be a great tool to direct their gaze into that perfect “over the shoulder” glance. They may even sit at attention eagerly awaiting that next ball launch. This option also has tons of fun potential to get some wacky action shots or bloopers!

4. Catnip marks the spot.
As for our feline friends, who may feel stressed in a new studio environment, this is my favorite trick of all. Cat nip spray! A few spritzes on the chair or the paper backdrop where I’d like them positioned is pretty hard for them to resist. Pair that with a “psssts” or “miaooooo” noise and I’ve got the shot.

Indy totally fell for my toy and catnip trap! And very cutely I might add.

5. Camera Shy?
When any pet first comes into the studio, I fire off a few test shots to see how they react to the noise and flash. It has also allowed me to have quite a nice collection of my feet or the corner of the room! If they don’t like it or seem stressed I’ll put the camera down and treat when they go close to it. Then I’ll treat again if they approach the camera in my hand. I’ll work my way up to “camera fire = treats and good things!”

The important thing is that we let dogs dog and cats cat.

I only need a fraction of a second to capture a cute glance or pose.

So even if Mr. Tortellini is doing lap after lap, I’ll find the perfect frame. The frame where it looks like he knew exactly what he was doing and posed perfectly for the camera.

If all else fails?

‘Shop that shit!

When I worked in the video world the running joke was “oh, we can fix that in post” and sometimes that’s just what we need to do.

For example, sweet Vinny here was losing his vision and couldn’t hear very well anymore. Luckily his nose had easily picked up the slack and he’d follow the treat anywhere. The problem was getting my treat hand out of the way before taking the shot. So Mom had to step in and hold him in place. I directed her to position herself so that no part of her was covering Vinny. While editing, I was able to remove her from the photo, no problem.

Remember. It’s a day of fun and you don’t have to hold your pet to any top model standards. When they are having fun and feeling like themselves, that’s when the best photos come forward. Their personality is even more visible this way!

Vinny with mom in the background.Vinny the shih tzu with his tongue out in a button down and tie. Mom edited out perfectly.
Sorry, Mom. You gotta go!

Finally, if your pet truely feels uncomfortable (which has yet to happen…knock on wood), that’s ok. We can try to reschedule, hoping it will feel more familiar the next time, or I will give you a complete refund.

That’s the Apawture Studios guarantee. There’s really no pressure!

If you think you are ready to capture your pet’s spunk in a meaningful way that will stay with you forever, let’s chat and get you on the schedule!


Let’s Chat


This post is part of a blog circle of some of the most uber-talented pet photographers all over the world. Keep reading to learn about how other photographers address some common concerns of their clients.

Up next: Toronto Pet Photographer Terri Jankelow of Terri J Photography discusses why you don’t need to worry about your dog behaving badly for a photo 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 Comment
  1. Cahlean

    I love your personality and voice in your writing! The tips on ensuring your pet is a superstar during a session are spot on!



  1. Can you photograph my dog even if he isn't well trained? - - […] This blog is a part of a blog circle with pet photographers near me and from across the globe!…
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