Grooming Tips for a Picture-Perfect Photo Session
As you flip through stacks of holiday greeting cards, you may notice that more and more families include their dogs-fetchingly attired in a Santa hat, sparkly collar, or reindeer antlers-in the annual holiday photo. After all, dogs are the new children. But grooming your dog for a holiday photo isn't always easy New 'dos get mussed, holiday accessories get jettisoned, and suddenly your dog is panting, with that wild look in his eyes that says, "You're crazy if you think I'm sitting on this carpet-covered cube thing for one more second!
Never fear. You can get a good picture of your pet, fit and have fun doing it. Just follow these simple tips from pet photographer Todd Adamson, of West Branch, Iowa. You'll he proud to display that holiday portrait, whether you join your dog in the picture or you're the one behind the camera.
Doing the Do
Bring a brush. Even the most perfectly coiffed ; dog can mess herself up with a good shake or a foray into the bushes on the way into the photographer's studio. "Bring grooming supplies with you to the photo session, so you can make last minute adjustments," says Adamson.
Add sheen. For smooth-coated dogs, a spray of coat conditioner or even a few drops of baby oil rubbed over the coat can add an attractive sheen that the photographer can accentuate with good lighting.
Banish stains. Most professional photographers shoot digital photos, and many small imperfections can he fixed through the magic of software programs such as Photoshop, but major imperfections such as obvious brown tear stains on a white dog will look fake if the photographer tries to fix them. "It's better to use a tearstain-removing product and clean up the dog's face before you come in for the picture," advises Adamson.
Have a Dress Rehearsal
Do you just love the red velvet collar you bought for your toy Poodle? Great, but don't try to put it on her for the first time at the photographer's studio.
"Dogs have to be comfortable when they
get their portraits taken," Adamson says. "The photo studio is probably a new environment, and that's stressful enough. Add a strange new set of reindeer antlers or a collar full of jingle bells, and you're asking for a dog who doesn't look relaxed."
Nervous dogs will pant, look wildeyed, or refuse to sit still for the picture. Adamson recommends you try out new accessories at home. "Let the dog get used to it. Then, when you get to the studio, he won't be freaking out about that strange thing you just put on him."
Remain calm, mind your manneers, and be yourself
If you get all stressed out and unhappy during a photo session, your dog will, too. "If you stay calm and cheerful and act like you're having fun, your dog will pick up on that and he more likely to stay calm," says Adamson.
Remember that professional photography studios contain expensive equipment. Make sure your dog's nails are clipped and smoothed over so they don't scratch surfaces, and control your pet: That ficus tree wasn't meant to he a pet potty.
Finally, be yourself. Do you really want your scruffy terrier all smoothed out for a photo? "A good pet photo captures the true personality of the dog," says Adamson. "Grooming should reflect that true personality. It's nice to see a dog's eyes, for example, but if your dog always has hair in his eyes, that's your dog. This isn't the time to try something new or uncharacteristic for your pet."
Good pet photographers can produce truly spectacular results, but sometimes a great candid shot works just as well on a holiday card. Take lots of pictures of your dog, and if you find one that really expresses you, your pet, and how you feel about each other, go with it-even if that coat is a little messy, and your dog isn't even wearing a Santa hat.