How to prepare for your session

Thank you for booking your session, as with all new bookings I am very excited to work with you and your pet, and to get to know you both personally.

I often get messages from clients stating they don’t know what to wear, what to bring or what they may not need etc... Any worries about your pet , whether they may be stressed on the day or disobedient, don’t worry, I am confident having owned and worked with horses and dogs for over 2 decades, there are not many scenarios I haven’t come across. With our combined knowledge, we can make a success of whatever the day throws at us.

Firstly please make sure you have completed the links below:

What do I need?

If you are able to, bring a friend or family member who can help, they will make you more relaxed and it's always nice to have an extra pair of hands to handle your horse\dog, help pose you or them and help get your pets ears forward! If you can’t get anyone to help, please let me know and I will try bring an assistant.

If you have a horse I recommend going to the yard early to prep and clean off those stable stains. Wear your usual horsey clothes and bringing your clean outfit(s) with you to change into later. It's a good idea to bring a hair brush and makeup to touch up if you need. I also recommend a water bottle and a snack for yourself. Bring a warm layer in case the weather changes on us.

If your worried your horse/dog will not behave or will be super stressed, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using calmer cookies or calm tablets etc to take the edge off, as this isn’t a usual experience for most.

If you aren’t able to prep and groom your pet yourself, please let me know and I can suggest a freelance groom to help you, as you need everything as perfect as you can so that they can look their best on camera!

My number one recommended grooming tool is wet wipes, they are a life saver to have on hand!

You will also need your pets favourite treats, and lots of them! It's always better to have more than enough bribery goodies!

What should I wear?

Ultimately this is up to you, it's your session and your memories, so it should be your choice but I am here to help as much as I can. My biggest advice is to wear something your comfortable in. If you are not comfortable in your clothing, you are not going to be having fun and that may stress you out and your pet and make it harder to relax for the camera. There is nothing wrong with going out of your comfort zone, but make sure that you have tried the outfit on a few times before the session so that you know you feel your best in it and are able to move around well enough to pose with your pet. I also recommend getting your pet used to the outfit beforehand if it is something out of the ordinary, like a big floaty dress or prop as you never know what will spook them.

Colours are very important when selecting an outfit and I suggest being aware of the season, time of day and your pets colouring. In winter and fall, warm and darker colours tend to look best and pop against the less vibrant background. For Summer and Spring, more pastel and colourful tones look beautiful against the blooming foliage.

I suggest to stay away from green and yellows, as they can tend to be lost in the background.

When coordinating colours with your pet, it is important to remember that you want to pop out, not blend in. With a darker colored animal, wear a lighter colour, where as with a white colored animal, it is best to chose a darker colour. Chestnuts/browns/gingers are the most difficult to colour match with and I recommend sticking to a pastel shade or dark bold colour, I don’t recommend red or green. If you have a patterned horse/dog, such as an Appaloosa or Dalmatian, stay away from wearing a pattern yourself so that the images don't appear overly busy. With more golden tones, such as Palominos and Golden Retrievers, try and chose something that contrasts, such as blue, purple or pink.

As mentioned above, patterns can easily make an image look distracting, but they can also add an element or intrigue, if done right. I recommend from staying away form anything overly brash or busy, as well as those with small detail. Very fine plaid or stripes can easily become lost and distorted on camera. If choosing to wear a pattern, try and keep the rest of the outfit simple so that it doesn't become overwhelming. Patterns can be excellent to accentuate certain features, add an interesting element to an outfit and show a bit of personality, but we don't want them to take away from the bond we are capturing between you and your pet. If you have any concerns about a particular outfit looking good on camera, just shoot me a message.

That about covers how to select your main outfit(s), but now you might be thinking about accessories, shoes, jewelry and a number of other considerations. I recommend keeping accessories and jewelry very minimal and simple. For jewelry, a necklace or bracelet can be very beautiful and we can chose to highlight it in a few images if it is of sentimental value, however any big and bright jewelry can take away attention from you and your pet. Accessories and jewelry are easy to remove during the session, so if you are not sure, please bring them and we can test how they look on camera.

Footwear is a very important consideration, especially around horses. For safety, I recommend close toed boots whilst prepping and grooming , then look to swap into your open sandals or heels etc last minute if you wish! If your feet will be covered by a long dress or skirt, I recommend wearing boots for safety if they wont be seen. Keep barefoot in mind too, there is something beautiful in an image when barefoot on the back of a horse in a dress, or if you and your dog is playing on the beach.

Hopefully now you are feeling a bit more confident about picking something out of your closet, but if not please message me.

Hair and Make-up

The best option for hair and makeup for your session is having it professionally done, however this is not always an option and that’s ok. If you are confident with makeup, feel free to do your own, or ask a friend to help!

Make sure to not do anything over dramatic and stay away from thick dark eye shadow, as the eyes can appear hidden on camera. I recommend a light, natural look, but it is totally up to you! If you are not very comfortable with makeup, like me, please don't try anything that you are not confident with, I want you to look and feel your best, and that might mean no makeup at all!

It's important to remember that you want to be able to look back at these images in 10 years and still appreciate them, so it is best to go with a classic and timeless look for hair and makeup.

For hair, my recommendations are similar to makeup, and I strongly suggest only doing your own hair if you are comfortable, and otherwise ask for help from a friend or professional. A loose curl can look beautiful, or if you would like a more styled look, a soft half up half down or loose pin-up will look great. I suggest staying away from tight low ponytails, or any other styles that slick the hair back against the head, as these don't appear the most flattering on camera. You can also use a beautiful headband to keep your hair out your face if your wearing it down.

If you are able, I recommend trying out your hair and makeup look a day or two before the session, with your outfit, so you can make sure you are happy, comfortable and confident in it. I'm sure you will look beautiful!

How to prepare my pet?

Preparing your dog or horse is in my opinion, the most important step, since they do not understand what a photo shoot is and are not going to know what is going on, and as much as they might be the model king/queen of putting ears forward for a selfie, a photo session is a whole different story and we want to give them the best chance of being on their best behaviour. This typically starts with going for a short walk with your dog first or lunging your horse. Now I know what you might be thinking, your pet is calm and will be fine, but hear me out first... Under saddle or hanging out in your local dog park, they might be the most relaxed creature, who wouldn't move if a bomb went off, but asking a pet to stand still, move this way or that and put their ears up, for an hour straight tends to get on their nerves. We are asking them to do something totally new and out of the ordinary, and they might not like it, no matter how relaxed they usually are.

Lunging your horse allows them to release some energy, maintain some routine and relax before we ask them to do something totally new to them. Now this lunging does not need to be intense, we do not want them, or you, to work up a sweat! A few circles of trot in each direction and one circle of canter in each direction is usually enough. However if you are worried that your horse might need more to get out their energy, feel free to lunge as long as you need, but do this at least an hour in advance, so they have chance to cool down and brush out sweat marks, as they will show on camera. Remember we want them relaxed, but not tired out!

If your pet is anything like mine, meal time is a ritual, a religion, it is sacred! We do not want to be messing with this ritual, so if your pet will be missing a meal time for their session, please feed a small amount ahead of time (at least 1 hour), then allow them the remainder once we are finished.

The most important thing is to be aware of your pets mood, as we all know, animals can have off days too. If before your session is due to start its ‘one of those days’, please let me know ahead of time. I can accommodate most grumpy or uncooperative pets and I'm pretty good at working around their movement. I will only re-schedule if absolutely necessary, in the case that a animal is behaving dangerously. Don't be afraid to let me know, I am here to make the process as easy and relaxed as possible.

Help my pet is mucky...

Now some of you might be lucky enough to have a horse that is kept in a pristine stable, doesn't rip it's blankets off or just simply hates the dirt. Or a dog who avoids puddles and never rolls in fox poo lol (isn't that the dream!), but the majority of us have pets who like to be as awkward as possible at the most inconvenient of times, with dirt in places that you didn't even know dirt could go, and places where it certainly doesn't belong.

First of all, don’t worry... I strongly recommend bathing your pet a day or two before the session. If you need to bath your pet on the day of their session, please do this plenty hours in advance to provide time for them to fully dry. A bath helps get all the dust, dandruff and dirt that is deep in the hair out and brushing after, especially with a microfiber cloth helps bring out that beautiful shine. A good conditioner can do wonders for their coat and will save you a lot of time.

Make sure to pay attention to the spots that might usually get forgotten, under their legs, chest, tail or behind their ears.

For horses braiding is optional and entirely up to you. If you have a traditional cob for example I suggest leaving them as natural as possible. If you have a Thoroughbred for example, plaited up looks very elegant.

Attention to detail is going to help your horse look their best. Eyes and nose should be cleaned with baby wipes and the face should be groomed as well as the body. Hooves should be cleaned and oiled (unless they have feathers) to look their best. For any white markings, I recommend using baby powder as a last minute go to to make them pop. Fetlocks should be trimmed(breed and preference dependent). If possible, the tail and mane should be groomed and pulled to lie straight. As a final touch, wipe the entire coat down with a clean cloth to remove any final dirt. If your session is in the Spring or Summer, apply fly spray to keep the bugs away. If you clip your horse, make sure this is done a minimum of a week before your session, as this will give time for clipper lines and rashes to go away. A fresh clip often looks terrible on photos.

Final Checks

You're almost done reading, just a few final odds and ends to have you looking and feeling your best for the session!

Remember to clean or renew any tack/accessories that will be used in your session.

I strongly recommend leather, either as a halter or bridle for your horse, or collar for your dog, as this will appear best on camera. Your horses bit should be clean and try not to let them eat grass during your session. For your dog, if you don’t want leather, a new vibrant colored collar looks beautiful, but my favorite is often without any collar at all, if this is something you would like but can’t trust your pet, please let me know.

Any footwear should also be as clean as possible. Your outfit should be clean and wrinkle free.

On the day, make sure to wash your hands and scrub your nails after grooming so they are clean in the images. Don’t forget to remove hair ties from your wrists, as they are distracting in images and change into your session outfit. If you currently have trousers on and are wearing a dress/skirt for your session, make sure to remove your trousers in advance to let any seam lines to fade out.

Please ask me questions and let me know if you are not comfortable with anything at any point! I want this to be an experience you can enjoy and remember fondly. I am here to help throughout the entire process.

Thank you for choosing me as your photographer and I hope that this helped you feel more prepared for your session. I can't wait for our session together and to get to capture your memories!