It’s 2023 and everyone’s gathering together. There’s laughter and music. Some wear sequins and dresses, others rock bowties. Everyone is in their finest attire, gathered to see who will be voted King and Queen. Unlike your high school prom, tails are wagging as we wait to hear the results. It’s Dog Prom 2023!
Behind the Scenes
I’m going to take you behind the scenes of this unique event and how it differs from my typical photo session. Dog Prom is put on by a local dog rescue – Silver Linings Rescue Ranch. They are a fantastic organization focusing on helping senior pups get the care they need and find loving homes. You can learn more about them at https://www.silverliningsrescueranch.org/
First, the biggest difference between this and my signature sessions is the location. Signature sessions are usually outdoors somewhere on location around Central Oregon, embracing the natural beauty available. Dog Prom took place in town at Midtown Yacht Club, a local brewery here in Bend. Because of this, we needed a backdrop, props to really give it that “prom” feel. I brought a portable flash to give it that extra pizazz and make the process feel fancy.
Whenever I do an event like this, my main concern (aside from pup safety and comfort) is space. The dogs being photographed need to have enough space from everyone else to be comfortable. In addition, I need enough space to fit the dog (and scene) into the frame of the image. I have a variety of lenses that I use during my sessions and when space is limited I use my 50mm or 16-35mm lens. These allow me to be relatively close while getting as much of the scene as possible in my image.
While photographing these pups it’s hard to know how each of them will respond. Many of them haven’t had professional photos taken before and can express discomfort in front of the camera. My goal is to always have my pups be comfortable and not force them into anything against their will so interact with them before bringing my camera out. Generally, I use positive reinforcement, such as treats, verbal praise, and affection (depending on each dog) and I’m able to capture more comfortable behavior. Sometimes there’s a dog that just isn’t comfortable no matter what. In this case, I’ll try to capture an image or two at the beginning but I don’t push it. If they’re not relaxed and don’t want to be there, I can’t force them into it.
During an event, like Dog Prom, there is usually only one dog that isn’t able to relax for the photo. Sometimes pups just have a harder time in large gatherings or with lots of distractions. If your pup has a hard time relaxing in these kinds of situations, I recommend booking a private photo session rather than participating in a photo event.
During a private session we’re able to take as many breaks as we need to play, sniff, and walk around. It’s much more laid back and we’re not as constrained by time.
If you’re not sure how a photoshoot will work with your pup, a photo event like dog prom gives you a quick taste for what it’s like working with a professional dog photographer.
Dog Prom 2023 was such a great experience and I’m so glad I was able to take part in it. My favorite part in participating in dog events like this is seeing the variety of looks and personalities of the pups coupled with getting to know so many new people. We have so many amazing dogs and pet parents in this area!