FAQ: Pet Photography


Pets are definitely part of the family and I love being a pet photographer.  Please read these Frequently Asked Questions to answer any questions you might have about your session.

I’ve never had a pet photography session before, and I’m a little nervous. What can I expect?

First of all, relax!  I’ve been a professional pet photographer for over 20 years and I bring calm energy, lots of furry love and years of experience with us to every pet session.  I know each animal has a unique personality and I’ll work within their limitations.   That being said, the pet always picks up on their human’s energy, so I urge you to take deep breaths, relax and enjoy the experience along with your best friend!

What information should I give you before the session?

Before your session, I recommend that you think about what specific photos you may be interested in and if there are any specific purposes that you might have in mind for final prints. Would you like a series of framed prints of your fur babies for your office?  A large print of Sparky in the living room? An album for the coffee table at your clinic? Having an idea of what you might like to order after the shoot is frequently helpful as we plan and carry out your session.

Where do the pet photo shoots take place?

About a week before the shoot, I’ll give you a call to work out shooting locations.   I offer indoor or outdoor locations. I want your session’s location to be meaningful and a beautiful place for you and your pet so I’ll help you brainstorm about great locations.  Most dogs enjoy being outside more than cats, so I’ll work with you to find the best environment for your pet’s personality.   Also, studio images focus more on the expression of your pet while on-location shoots will focus on your pet in the environment in which she loves.

How far will you travel?

Sessions include travel to any location within 35 miles from our locations.   If you would like a session outside of that area, please contact me for specific travel availability and fees.  I love to travel to new places, so please don’t hesitate to ask.  Being a pet photographer means that I get to travel to some amazing cities where my clients live and I love being inspired by new places and locations.

What will our session be like?

As far as what to expect on your shoot day, I generally like to keep things loose and informal. For on-location sessions, I’ll shoot a variety of images in various locations.  I might ask you to do something specific like hold a treat, throw a ball or give your pet a command to help with a photo.  We will work together as a team to make sure we’re getting the types of images you’ll love.  I try and avoid the traditional style of posed photography since the images tend to look stiff and forced. Instead, we’ll try to capture your pet in more spontaneous and fun moments.  I just want the photos to look relaxed and honest.

Can I bring more than one pet to my session?

Of course, I’d love for you to bring all of your pets!  Our package includes up to two (2) pets.  Due to the increased time and post processing involved with three or more, there is a $50 per pet charge for additional animals brought to the session.

Can humans be in any of the photos?

We will focus on your pet(s) for the majority of the session, but we’d love to capture the human-pet bond as well.  My job as a Pet Photographer is to capture your relationship with your furry friend, so please plan on being on just a few photos.

How long will our session last?

The shoot itself will take about one hour.  Of course, if you’re pet needs more time to settle into the photography session, we can always stay longer.  On the other hand, some dogs are so mellow and I can capture great images in less than an hour.  I will not leave until we create some beautiful images.

My dog doesn’t know how to sit and has a ton of energy, is that a problem?

While it’s great if your dog follows some commands, it’s not required.  I’ve photographed many different personalities and behaviors through the years, and I always get some great images. And, honestly, I want your dog to be himself! You’re coming to me to capture the true spirit of your pets – not just perfect poses – so relax and let her personality shine!

What if my dog needs to stay on a leash?

The safety of your pet is always my number one priority.  If you are concerned about distractions in the forest or a park where we’re shooting, I’d actually prefer that your dog be on a leash, and in fact, I encourage it.  I always carry show leads with me which are thin and can be edited out during the post-processing of your images.

Please note:  I will only remove the leash from images that you are planning on purchasing so the leash will be seen in your gallery of proof images.  The leash will be edited out of the images you purchase.

How much is a Portrait Session and what does it include?

I have many packages to choose from, please use the contact form to get more information. Most of my clients spend, on average, $1500-$2200 for the pet session and art pieces.

Will I get a USB of the Images with my session?

I offer a complimentary USB of low resolution, watermarked images for each client to share online or to archive for their own purposes.  I also offer a Digital Collection which includes the High Resolution Images.  However, it has been my experience that the USB of those images are usually put in a drawer and forgotten.  My goal is to help you create a beautiful display of your printed images you can proudly display in your home and enjoy every day.  As a pet photographer, I pride myself in helping my clients create memories for a lifetime.   I’m not content just to create the images that you’ll love; I will also work with you to create wall prints, albums or even holiday cards that you’ll be able to enjoy for years to come.  If all you want is the USB of the photos, our studio might not be a good fit for you.

When do you schedule Portrait Sessions?

I schedule all pet sessions Monday through Friday.   I do reserve one weekend a month for portraits, but please contact me as soon as possible because those dates go fast!

How will I see our proofs?

After the shoot, I’ll schedule a time for us to review your images online. I’ll put together a slide show of our favorite photos from the shoot so that you can sit back and enjoy. After viewing the show, I’ll work with you to pick out your selects and place your order for prints, albums, canvases and wood prints.  The ordering session usually takes about one hour so please be sure to allot enough time in your schedule.   A big part of the service that I offer is assisting you with my expertise as to what images will work best and in what context.

Can I see my proofs online?

Yes, a complimentary online gallery is provided for one week. If you need additional time, you may extend the online gallery for $25/week.

How long does it take to get my products?

Once you have placed your order, I’ll commence the work immediately. Depending upon the scope of your order, you may expect it to be complete within two to four weeks. Smaller prints take the least amount of time while custom-bound albums tend to take considerably longer.  I will let you know during the ordering session how long each product will take to deliver.

Do you volunteer for any rescue organizations?

Please check out my website under “Giving Back” for more information about what I do to help animals in need.  As a pet photographer, volunteering to help animals in need is one of the most rewarding components of my business.  If you work with or know of a rescue group or shelter that would benefit from my services, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  I’m so proud to have been able to contributed time and money to many organizations, including High Country Humane, Tibetan Mastiff Rescue, Arizona Beagle Rescue, Yavapai Humane Association, Coconino Humane Association and many others.  It takes a village to help all the animals in need and I feel very blessed to have been able to contribute.

Pit bulls during a pet photography photo shoot on blue background by Melissa Dunstan Pet Potographer


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