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The Do’s and Don’ts to Dressing your Pet for a Photography Session

by | Feb 2, 2022

Style tips to dress up any pet photography session according to your custom style and tastes.

Style is the name of the game here at Apawture Studios and the work here isn’t done until we’ve highlighted the unique style that represents your pet. Ultimately, at the end of the day, of your pet doesn’t look good, I don’t look good and me not looking good is only reserved for Sunday nights when the only one seeing me is that “continue watching?” message that pops up. Ok then! Let’s dive into the do’s and don’ts for dressing your pet for their custom photo shoot.

DON’T : force it!

I can’t stress this enough. If a shirt is too tight, or a tie won’t stay in place, that’s no fun for anyone. Not to mention, I won’t be able to get good photos if they look miserable.

We’ve all been there, right? I can say I definitely have some jeans (thanks COVID snacking plan) that are a little too tight and dig into my stomach so much my legs might even turn blue from lack of circulation. Or have you ever had a dress shirt that’s a little too tight and you can’t even lift your arms to get that scratch on your nose?! The WORST. Am I right? Same for them. And I never, ever, ever want to put an animal at risk with something ill-fitting.

I can do a lot with the magic of Photoshop to give you a realistic look, in the style that you love, without ever making your pet even the slightest bit uncomfortable. Now that that’s out of the way, on to the fun style kinda stuff!

Picture this: you’re coming into your session with a specific bedroom wall in mind that is just begging for an homage to your pet/s in sparking-new-artwork form. Let’s say your bedroom is your calm space to go to after a long day’s work. It’s decorated mostly in soft neutrals with pops of light blue around to really bring on those calming feelings. Your preferred essential oil of choice is lavender and you have three levels of lighting depending on the time of day, and your mood.

Great. Now imagine hanging an image of your beloved Pepe decked out in neon green fur with hot pink shades on a bright yellow background. GROSS!!! Let’s not do that. Don’t get me wrong, there’s certainly a time and place for neon green fur and hot pink sunglasses (me making notes to workshop this idea!), but in your relaxed, calming bedroom, it just doesn’t make sense. Perhaps Pepe would fit better in a brown fur with light blue shades. Still Pepe, because, let’s face it, Pepe is glamorous AF and we still need that to come through, but it needs to work with the space at the same time.

Punk Chihuahua Wall Art
Complimentary colors work!
DON’T : Get stuck in seasonal themes.

Again, if your new artwork is going to be a permanent fixture in your home, and on a prominent wall or shelf, Christmas themed may not be an ideal  if you’re going to be enjoying it during the summer too. That is, of course, unless you embrace the season year-round (looking at you sushi restaurant that not only doesn’t take down the Christmas decorations EVER, but also turns all the lights and the life-size dancing Santa on intermittently throughout the year!). Again, no shade. I can’t go to sleep with dirty feet, we all have our quirks. Themes should be intentional.

Perfect for a holiday card, not so much for your living room mid-summer!

For example, if the goal of the artwork is for a specific season, then I say embrace it wholeheartedly, sing it from the rooftops and hold nothing back. Christmas cards? Heck yes, deck your pet/s halls out in all their glory, with red and green out the wazoo and maybe even a mistletoe instead of the cherry on top. Halloween coffee table book? Time to bust out the red cape and eerie lighting and bring together your idea of all the spooky things that go bork in the night.

I think you catch my drift here.

DO : Think about your pet/s’ personality!

Is Miss Fluffybottom a bit of a timid cat? Perhaps adorning her in a big, purple feather boa would be a bit off target. You know she wouldn’t want all that attention. But can we come up with something a bit more classy and subtle? Absolutely.

Bucky is sophisticated in his later years, but he means business when that ball is out.

Or maybe Sparky got his name because he’s really got that zest for life. He’s big, he’s bold and he’s in your face. So naturally big, bold and eye-catching colors and style is totally appropriate here (again, considering the goal of the artwork and where it will live). Ultimately, when you look at your artwork of your Bestie, it should bring about those same fuzzy, heart-fluttery feelings that you get when you look at them. That’s what my goal always is.

DON’T : Overdo it!

When I say “loud style” I’m sure most of us have an idea of this particular someone in mind. Perhaps she’s got on a big, rainbow, patchwork overcoat on with a purple top hat with a foot long feather sticking out of the top. Again, no shade, but subtlety can go a long way in your art. After all, the star of the show should always be your pet and their sparkling eyes, not their loudly patterned shirt. They are the center of your world, so let them be the center of attention in their artwork pieces!

Speaking of patterns. I do love me a good, unique and sometimes loud pattern! There are always exceptions to every rule, but generally pure white and pure black can photograph a bit dull, unless it’s planned and carefully executed. Hey, if that’s your vibe, great! Let’s plan for it. As far as patterns go, however, it’s a subtle balance. To hit the right notes and lead the eye in a way that it’s pleasing, can be tricky. I’ve been doing it for years and it’s even difficult to explain. Sometimes it’s just a gut feeling! Art is also very subjective, but that’s why I try to get to know each and every one of my clients to get a sense of what they’re drawn to. I’ll experiment and play until I  find The Look that’s just right for you and your dog or cat.

Overall, I like to think of the idea of the  little black dress (or whatever your equivalent may be!)  that everyone should have in their closet. It’s that timeless, yet classic style, that fits almost all occasions and at the same time makes her feel like a rockstar goddess. The same idea works here with your dog or cat. Is there a favorite jacket that they just look so cute in, you could eat them right up? Those little booties that give her the funniest little walk when you’re out on a winter walk in the snow? Is it something more out of necessity, like goggles to keep his aging eyes protected from the sun, but also makes him look like he’s ready to hop on the back of your Vespa  and hit the highway for some good times? Yes. All of those! 

DO : Rely on me for outfits, suggestions and style planning!

Since my schick is personifying the big personality your pet has in a kind of human way, I realize a little extra (think: props, outfits, accessories, etc.) may be needed. Never fear! I have a whole wardrobe of good stuff to choose from. It’s ok if you show up with nothing at all. Well, their favorite treats or toys help with the attention grabbing but that’s another post for another day.

Part of the fun of doing a session at Apawture Studios, is getting to play dress up. The artwork at the end is your preserved memory that you’ll have forever. But that time in the studio,  the planning around it and showing up for a fun and unique experience that you get to share with your Bestie  is just as important, and creates memories in and of itself.

When we have our consultation call, we’ll cover all of the above and talk about what would be best for you. I’ll ask questions to get an idea of what your walls look like and to get a feel for your personal style and your pet’s personality. If you have props you want to bring, that’s always welcome and highly encouraged! Those are going to mean the most to you and carry their own memories and sentimental value. However, if you don’t have much and still love my style, I’ll curate a couple of looks for you. Hopefully you’ll love what I pull together, but if not, that’s ok too. I’ll keep going until I find the perfect fit (pun very much intended!). You can browse my collection and pick out things that speak to you, too.  And don’t worry, I’ve got accessories and outfits for all sizes of Besties from micro to macro, mid-size and gigantic!

Trifold Cat Desktop Photos
Table top tri-fold books like this, above, and albums have a lot more flexibility style wise. So go nuts!

DON’T : Worry if youR pet isn’t comfortable dressing up.

I get it. Much like cilantro, it’s not for everyone. If your Bestie isn’t used to putting things on, or has certain sensitivities to having paws touched or something on their faces, no problemo! I always, always go only as far as their comfort level. Not only is it better for stress levels overall, but no one wants a photo of their beloved dog where they look uncomfortable.

Remember, the ultimate goal is to have fun and create something awesome together. It may sound like a lot to take in, but a lot of it is also trial and error. I always go at your dog’s pace and we take as many breaks as we need to. But that just gives us more of a chance to play while your Bestie acclimates and gets comfortable. And one more time for the people in the back,

we put the FUN in FUNTASTIC PHOTO SHOOT!!!

DO : Feel free to reach out directly if you have any questions or inspiration for a Custom session of your own making!


Keep it going!

This post is part of a blog circle of some of the most uber-talented pet photographers all over the world. Click here: Tracy Allard, Dallas – Fort Worth’s award-winning pet photographer, shares tips on how to look great in photos with your dog, cat or horse. and follow the circle until you land back on this page! Enjoy!

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6 Comments
  1. Nicole

    Great tips and wow Photoshop skills on Camillo’s outfit!

    Reply
    • THE Carol Mudra

      Thanks! Yes, my bag of tricks runs deep. But it suits him, no?! (:

      Reply
  2. Darlene

    Great post, Carol! I love that you discuss the “style planning” – so important! Along with considering clothing choices for artwork. How cute is Camillo ready for the Jazz Club – love it!

    Reply
    • THE Carol Mudra

      Thank you, Darlene! It’s all about the end product doing what it should be doing, right?! Camillo really had a sly sense about him so I can totally see him pitter-pattering around with a group of musicians!

      Reply
  3. Holly

    I love this! So inspired and I love that you have so much fun, but keep the comfort of the pet in the forefront. I’ve always loved your work and this blog post was so much fun.
    Btw… Camillo’s outfit totally suits him. lol!

    Reply
    • THE Carol Mudra

      Haha! Thanks, Holly. I really appreciate it. We’re all about having all the fun over here!!!

      Reply
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