Can I bring my dog?

If you're like me, your pets are a huge part of your family! I often get asked, "can I bring my dog to my session?" It's a reasonable question and as a huge animal lover I always want to shout YASSS QUEEEN! But when I put my professional photographer hat on, I struggle with that same enthusiasm. It's not that I don't want to do it for my clients, it's that it can be pretty difficult to execute perfectly. (So remind me gently dear client, nothing in life is prefect!) Here's more... In the past I've had tons of clients bring their dogs, and I love it. I love the idea of clients bringing their best paw-pals to be photographed! However, most of these moments don't make it into my portfolio because the truth is, it's hard to pull off! There's one family in particular that will always stand out. It's the Howell family pictured above. I photographed them on NYE in 2016. My business was new, so I had all kinds of newbie enthusiasm when they asked to bring their dog. This, coming from the lady who legitimately wanted to bring a kitten back from a tropical vacation; what can I say? I LOVE animals! So on this day, my loving wonderful clients brought their big, beautiful dog Rex with them. I was mesmerized by his expressive eyes, and soft fur! He was such a good boy! But, full disclosure - that session was a challenge! Rex, was in a new place, with new scents and with sprawling fields to explore. He wanted to spend his time exploring, not behaving for a stranger! Still, I managed to get a couple great photos. I even shot a few of just him (how could I resist?!) The next year my client contacted me with the sad news of Rex's passing. (yes, I cried!) When they had their session, they had no idea how meaningful the photos of Rex would be to them. It was one of the few moments they got truly good up-close photos with the whole family! They truly cherish the photos, and for me the decision to keep including the doggos in the photo was a no-brainer. Families who want their dogs should absolutely include them! But I would be remiss if I didn't give you the down and dirty to help you make a decision! Below is one of 30+ outtakes of my own family photo, circa de 2018. As you can see, our two dogs were not at all willing to participate! After countless (and I mean about 30) tries, we did manage to get a decent photo of all of us! However, the amount of time it took really wore the younger kids out. They were just over it. From there, the session spiraled. The photographer, my dear friend Amy was a saint to keep trying though - I'll give her that! In the end, including the dogs far surpasses planning outfits and getting everyone to appear like the happiest family on earth! It's a special kind of frustrating. (hello, worth it but hard!) My dogs were distracted by the process! Think about how often do we sit in the front yard, shoulder to shoulder and all face the same direction...I'll tell you - never! It's not weird for us humans, but dogs must think we are out of our minds! Most of the time our dogs are sitting in front of us, facing us and communicating with their cute little tails, right? Still, I cherish our family photo with our dogs because the tragedy of owning pets is that they aren't here for our lifetime; only theirs! But before I make you cry thinking about the rainbow bridge, let's break down what a session is like if you decide you just have to bring your pup! Remember that in the example below, these dogs live here. They are used to the property, they guard and protect it and they know every inch of land. They're used to the mailman/UPS/Fed-ex, and used to neighborhood kids walking by. They see the same cars daily, but it's still distracting for them. They can sit on command, balance treats on their noses (and wait until I give them the "free" command to catch it), but despite being well-trained, they'