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Playtime: 7 reasons I don’t need your dog to sit still for photo shoots

    white and black dog running through tall yellow grass at Turnbull Wildlife refuge

    “My dog would never sit still long enough for you to get a good shot.”

    “My dog is crazy. There’s no way …”

    “You couldn’t possibly handle my dog.”

    Folks, I’ve heard it all and yet when you’re telling me I could never nail the shot with your dog, all I can think is …


    Sure, a photo shoot for your dog goes a lot smoother when she knows how to sit and stay … or even pose like a badass.

    (Don’t feel the pressure. This has taken years of work and patience.)

    But when I have a crazy, running, jumping, playing subject, I get to go home with the silliest, goofiest grin on my face.

    Here’s why.

    Embracing the energy of active dogs

    I don’t need your dog to sit still.

    Let me say that again.

    I do not need your dog to sit still.

    So many clients stress out over their dog not sitting pretty. Frankly, I think a lot of dogs look a little chonky when they’re just sitting there. And that works for some breeds (I see you, pugs).

    For other breeds, the majesty lies in a strong Power Pose or a graceful scamper through a field.

    1. Ready, set, go!

    In my younger days when I was a sportswriter, I shot a lot of action … Western Hockey League, Skate Canada, soccer, rugby … all the things. When I launched my dog photography business, I rejected the idea of dogs in action. I thought, “Been there, done that.” Then I entered a photography challenge last year in which I had to. And I loved it.

    I learned to see dogs in a whole new light, running care-free and living boundlessly. From midair leaps to chasing a ball, our dogs radiate joy and enthusiasm that will glow all the way into our souls if we’re open to it. Come on, tell me you aren’t smiling a lotta bit even though you’ve thrown that Chuckit a hundred times in an hour.

    2. Personality shines through

    High-energy dogs are a never-ending source of entertainment. Their personalities shine through in every frame from their photo shoot. Their unlimited energy keeps me on my toes and guarantees us all a session filled with laughs and hilarious outtakes. Who needs static poses when your active dog just wants to run, jump and play.

    3. They unleash us

    I’m on my toes, you’re laughing at me … er, with me, right? We’re all living in the moment, loving the day and burning calories. Our dogs bring a sense of adventure to every moment and they remind us to find the joy in the day. If we all could have the same kind of uncontainable enthusiasm that our dogs do, we might have a less stressed-out world.

    4. The beauty unfolds

    Your dog might have a crooked nose, a lopsided ear, a cat scratch scar or a tail with a bend in it. Dogs don’t care. They don’t have a “good side” and they don’t worry about that extra 5 lbs. Instead, they show us the raw elegance of wind-swept fur, a tongue lolling in midstride and unadulterated zest for life in their eyes. When they are running wild and free, we see their untamed beauty in all its glory.

    5. Perfection in the imperfection

    With a (failed) career in marketing and communications, I struggled a long time with the word “authenticity.” The marketing world had taken that word hostage and the more they asserted their “authenticity,” the more the word felt meaningless. Dogs have restored my faith in the word, though, teaching me to live more authentically. As myself, embracing the imperfect in me. Active dogs show us their perfections and their imperfections, sometimes both in a single breath, and they allow me the space to see them authentically throw my camera.

    woman playing with dog at Plantes Ferry

    6. You’ll love the images more

    We will get the perfectly posed shot. I promise. It may take a little more time, a little more patience than you were expecting but we will get there. However, I’m willing to bet you’ll fall more in love with the images of your dog as you know him … active, high energy, running, jumping and playing. Because those are the ways you see your dog most and the ways you connect with your dog. Which means they’re why you love your dog more than life itself.

    7. I see you bond

    Your biggest smiles are on your face when you watch your dog at play. I can’t begin to tell you how much joy comes through on your face when you’re engaging with your dog in the moment. When we interact with our dogs in play or on the trail, we build a stronger connection, the unbreakable trust that lets you know your dog is your one and only ride-or-die.

    All around the circle

    The mercury’s risin’ here in the Inland Northwest.

    Translation: It’s starting to get hotter than hell.

    While you’re out there doing your thing, make sure to stay safe. Bring lots of water for you and your dog, even if you’re going to be swimming in the lake. And don’t forget high temperatures can lead to heatstroke and paw pad burns. If the ground is too hot for you to touch, it’s hella painful for your best fur friend.

    Try to get up and get moving in the cooler morning hours or wait until later in the evening when the sun goes down.

    Now let’s go see what my pet photographer friends are up to this week. It’s a variety of subjects in the pet photographers blog circle.

    Start with Boston, Massachusetts, dog photographer and trainer Donna Kelliher with her tips for finding the perfect pet photographer for your reactive, shy or anxious dog.

    Click the link at the bottom of Donna’s post to continue through the circle. When you find yourself back here to dogs at play, you know you’re home.

    Right where you belong.

    And if you’re looking for an adventure that’s close to home, download my hiking guide:

    Find your next adventure

    Download your copy of our 5 Favorite Close-To-Home Hikes and subscribe to the Big White Dog newsletter. You’ll be the first to know about news, promos and model calls!


    Dogs. Adventure. Outdoors. These words set Angela's heart afire. Angela Schneider, an award-winning writer and dog photographer, documents the story of you and your dog and the adventures you take together. Your portraits will be a statement piece in your home, art that will make your friends and family beg to hear its story.

    8 thoughts on “Playtime: 7 reasons I don’t need your dog to sit still for photo shoots”

    1. You make such great points. I always love photographing dogs running around because I can tell they’re having so much fun. Asking a dog to pose isn’t always that fun for the dogs so I like to mix it up!

    2. I swear that’s the first thing I hear whenever I show my photos to someone. “My dog would never sit still long enough for a shot like that!” But you know how cameras work right? I only need a fraction of a second for the shot…..d’oh!

    3. I have started to incorporate more action options in my photo offerings. I love them too. Especially when dogs with floppy ears become bunnies while running.

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