LEAD OR NO LEAD?
If you’ve ever visited my portfolio, or flicked through a few of my journal entries, you might be left wondering how all of these dogs are so well trained and able to be allowed off-lead! You might even be feeling a bit disheartened, thinking “there’s no way my dog would ever sit still like that for a photo!”
Well, I’m going to let you in on a little secret… about 80% of the dogs I photograph are actually on a lead during their photo sessions!
There are quite a few reasons why a dog can’t or shouldn’t be let off-lead – but it’s not a problem!
Not every dog has mastered a solid sit/stay or perfected a reliable recall, especially if they’re still a pup, so keeping them on a lead is usually the safest and easiest way to get the best photos. The last thing we want to do is stress them out or confuse them – or even worse, lose them!
Some dogs are very attached to their owners and will rarely leave their side (literally!), and I’ve met others that actually feel happier and more secure when they’re on lead. Having you nearby and in control can be reassuring and reduce stress.
When shooting outdoors, you don’t always know what (or who) is around the corner. Keeping a dog safely under control by working on lead can help to avoid/manage any surprise encounters with other dogs or wildlife in the area (especially if your dog is a bit of a social butterfly!).
There’s no official law requiring dogs to be kept on a lead in all public spaces, but depending on the location we’re working in, there may be local instructions that we need to follow. This is especially important if livestock or other members of the public are nearby.
So what happens if your dog needs to stay on lead?
If you don’t feel comfortable letting your dog off lead, that’s no problem at all. In fact, it has very little impact on the overall experience and can actually be a real help – what’s most important is that you and your dog feel safe, comfortable, and confident.
We’ll chat before the shoot to find out if your dog needs to stay on lead or if they have any particular fears or dislikes that might impact the session. That way we can choose a location to suit your dog, and on the day of the session I can give you some guidance on how best to hold the lead and handle your dog (spoiler alert: it’s super easy!).
And that’s all there is to it! After your session I’ll use a little bit of computer wizardry to remove the lead and any stray human body parts that have crept into the scene, and voila! You’d never know that your dog was ever on a lead at all.
Still don’t believe me?
Check out the before & after shots below to see just what’s possible with a bit of clever handling and Photoshop magic…
A note on harnesses: I love harnesses. They’re a great, practical solution for keeping your dog comfortably under control (especially if they pull on the lead). But they aren’t very photogenic, and they are not easy to Photoshop away – in fact, it’s usually impossible. My advice is to remove the harness – if it’s safe to do so – and use a collar instead. If a harness is an absolute must (and I understand that for some dogs it is) then remember that it’s going to be visible in your photos, so make sure it’s cleaned up and fitted properly.