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My dog can't be off leash! I won't be able to get great portraits.

This is a common misconception about pet photography. And is one of the two most common concerns pet parents have about professional pictures of their dogs. Your dog is very capable of being the subject of gorgeous portraits.

Why leashes?

For safety reasons, all the dogs I photograph are on leashes. During a portrait session, we take every precaution to minimize distractions. However, how many times have we as pet owners experienced that one squirrel that had a death wish and taunted our dog? Too many times to count, right? With the leash we will prevent your dog from charging after that squirrel to show it who is boss.

Now, I won’t lie. I have photographed a couple of dogs that were not on leash. However, this is because they were in the safety of their own fenced backyard. Even then I made sure there was no way they could escape. I love your dog like my own and I want them to stay safe.

Leashes also help keep your dog in the spot we need to get some stunning photographs. Some dogs have great skills and can sit-stay for minutes at a time. Other dogs can sit-stay briefly and start to wander off. Using a leash helps us keep them in one spot long enough to snap some photos and move on.

Now you are wondering why all the photos of dogs on my website have no leashes. Over the years I have mastered Adobe Photoshop. Ok, maybe not mastered, but I am really good at it, and I can make the leashes and most collars disappear. Let me share with you some before-and-after pictures.

Friday, the escape artist

First up, meet Friday. He is a goofy and fun little guy who was found in Chicago on Good Friday barking at a statue of Jesus and Mary.

When he gets off the leash in an open area there is no stopping him. His mom always has a harness on him to make sure he doesn’t slip out of a collar. Harnesses are very difficult to remove in Photoshop. I mean I am good, but even this is impossible.

During this session she kept the harness on Friday as we walked from location to location. When it was time to photograph, she switched to a flat collar. You can see how it was easy to remove.


Chiweenie on a leash


Chiweenie without a leash


Next, meet some adorable puppies. These kiddos are Portuguese Water Dogs and only 12 weeks old.

Now, we know puppies have ants in their pants and do not have any obedience skills at this age. So, we used a leash to keep them in the spot I needed.

It still wasn’t easy since this is the first time they were on a leash. Several of the puppies attacked the leash while others were chill with the whole experience. Good thing I took over 1,000 pictures to get the result below.


Portuguese Water Dog Puppy


Portuguese Water Dog Puppy Litter

Orla, Search and Recovery working dog

Lastly, meet Orla who is a very sweet and affectionate Labrador Retriever. She loves people, pillows, beaches and hiking. Get this -- she even sings for her food.

She is a working dog and a member of the Northwest Indiana K9 Search and Recovery Team. When she works, she wears a vest that is similar to some harnesses other dogs wear. As you can see, it covers a great deal of her chest. This makes it impossible to edit in Photoshop. She still has an amazing portrait.

If your dog wears a harness or vest and you are comfortable with it in the image, we don't have to switch to a flat collar. Orla still looks amazing and the picture is stunning. I mean look at those eyes! Her mom says she talks with them!

Labrador retriever posing


When we have a photo session, there are some things you can do to help the editing process of leash removal. First, hold the leash straight up from your dog. If this is not possible, keep it straight in any direction.

Next, don’t pull too hard on the leash. You want to take the slack out of the leash. Pulling too hard will distort the collar. In some cases, it may pull your dog’s skin making unique distortions.

Finally, don’t let the leash lay on your dog. If you have a long leash don’t let the excess bunch up around them. This will complicate the editing process.

I hope this eases your mind and convinced you that your dog is capable and deserving of some amazing photos. Trust me they will look amazing!!

If you have any questions, want to learn more or ready to book an amazing session, please contact me below.


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