Tricks and treats of a Pet photographer

Basking in the fun play and cuddles from the dogs I photograph is certainly a treat for me, but capturing the dogs essence, much less his attention, requires a photographer to have a few tricks up her sleeve. Here are a couple of the tricks that I utilize throughout the photo session.


Sound would have to be my number one go to piece of “gear” that I can’t do without. It is also the cheapest- because it is my own voice. I have developed a variety of animal voices that can capture the attention of the dog. These sounds may even have also caught a few humans totally off guard. Sound is tricky to use though because once a dog grows weary of the sound, you may have to find a new sound. If you bombard him with all different types of sounds- he will just be desensitized to it. Use sound judiciously. Sound can create some great head tilts though.

Other items that can be used to make sound would be a squeaker, a game caller or an app on the phone for animal sounds. Horses ears perk up by just crumpling a plastic grocery bag.


Toys, stuffed animals, tennis balls can all be used to either catch a dog in action or to capture his attention while I click the shutter. You are encouraged to bring your dogs favorite toy to the photo session, but we will start out with other images and strategies before we pull that toy out. Once a favorite toy is seen, he may not wish to give it up. Of course his favorite toy might just have to be in the photo with him!


I always have treats with me. These are generally saved until last though, especially if the dog is food motivated. In that case, once I bring the treats out some dogs may lose focus on the commands being given and pay more attention to the treat. All treats are small bites size pieces such as training treats in order to minimize weight changes.

Dog's happy expectation of treat
Dog’s happy expectation of treat

The owner

As the owner, I will also be putting you to work. Whether it is holding a long leash to ensure your dog is safe while running next to the dog for some good action shots, throwing the ball, or standing above/behind me to elicit some reactions from your pup. You may even end up being part of the picture.

It’s an International circle!

Join the fun! This group of International Professional Pet Photographers bring you information on our weekly topics. While we focus on one broad subject, we may each have a different spin on it or provide you with additional information from our world of pet photography. Follow the next link to view how the next amazing photographer tackles this weeks challenge.  Follow each link at the end of each blog until you return to me. Then you have successfully completed our blog circle. Enjoy!

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Elaine Tweedy of I Got the Shot Photography shares why her camera bag always has to have a certain item in it.

Come and find your Best Friend!

Second Chance has a unique program near Syracuse N.Y. where inmates train the rescued dogs. This program gives both the dogs and the inmates a second chance in life.  Appointments currently required related to Covid-19 protocols.

BALTO is looking for his forever family.

Please contact Friends of Second Chance.

Friends of Second Chance Canine Adoption Shelter
6660 E. Seneca Turnpike
Jamesville, NY 13078

Capture your journey with your pet. Nancy Kieffer is a pet and nature photographer serving  Central New York, the Adirondacks and Beyond.  Capture how you share your life with your pet! It may be a vacation adventure or curled up on the couch. Travel assignments welcomed

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Celebrating Joy and Gratitude

Nancy Kieffer

Join me in celebrating a season of thanks, exploring gratitude practices, and embracing joyful living. Explore the profound connections with family, friends, and furbabies that make life truly enriching. This Black Friday, consider an alternative – spending the day in joy and gratitude. Come share your thankful moments with us as we navigate the beauty of grateful living.

Lessons from a Senior Dog

Nancy Kieffer

Working as a pet photographer as well as volunteering in a rescue, I have been blessed with getting to know a number of senior dogs. While I lost my Midnight at a young age, I was very fortunate to have Shamus with me for many years. Shamus was my clown, but boy did he know how to live! His wisdom grew as the years pressed on. I learned that each day spent with my senior dog was a lesson on the importance of living in the present, cherishing our bond and embracing our everlasting friendship.