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Dog, Park, Photo Session, What to expect

To leash or not to leash, that is the question.  Actually, it’s not really a question in my mind. It’s a pretty simple answer…..yes!    I have a lot of experience with dogs on leash photography, as you can see from the examples below.

A dachshund dog on the beach of Lake Michigan with a leash
A happy dachshund on the beach of Old Mission Lighthouse park in Traverse City

One of the concerns that many people have before booking a pet portrait session is that their dog needs to stay on a leash at all times.  They are afraid that all the images will have the leash in them or that they can’t get the type of images that they see on pet photography websites.

A golden doodle sitting on the path in Maybury State Park in winter
A beautiful doodle dog sitting on the path in a snowy forest

I have good news for you.  Your dog absolutely does not need to be off leash to get amazing images.  In fact, I would prefer that your pup stays on a leash unless we are in a fenced-in area.  

A sweet Cavalier King Charles Spaniel looks at the camera while posing on a stony landscape
A red and white Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy sitting on a stony landscape

I know some people are very comfortable with their dogs being off leash.  But some other considerations are other dogs or wildlife that may be in the area, even well-trained dogs are not perfect, and the fact that it is a state law to have your dog on leash.  So you can actually get a ticket/fine for not having your dog on leash.   

A black newfie puppy covered in sand on the beach with a red leash
A black newfoundland puppy covered in sand on the beach

My preference is always better safe than sorry, but especially when it comes to our pets.

Here’s how it works.  I can give you some simple instructions on how to hold the leash to minimize its appearance in an image.  I even have some special leashes that we can use. Then I do some photoshop magic to remove the leash in my editing process.  Viola, safe dog and happy pet parents 🙂

A golden doodle on leash on the beach at Fisherman's State Park in Michigan
A golden doodle on a stony beach along Lake Michigan with it's mouth open in summer

So, please don’t let the fact that your dog needs to be on a leash prevent you from having gorgeous images of you and your pet.  As part of our pre-session call we will discuss locations and behaviors so that we get exactly what you want without any risk.

Book your no-obligation call today by answering a few questions here.

An adorable Klee Kai dog on a snowy bridge in wearing a leash
A Klee Kai dog on the bridge in Lake St. Clair metropark in winter

As always, feel free to contact me at if you have any questions regarding a pet portrait session.

So to conclude, yes, your dog can be on a leash during our pet photoshoot and you’ll still get gorgeous images to display in your home for years. 

A dachshund dog on a leash splashes through shallow water
A dachshund dog splashed through the shallow water of a lake

Dog, Park

Welcome to mud season… Mother Nature’s April Fools joke

For anyone living in Michigan, or the upper Midwest in general, the beginning of spring is an exciting time.  The snow is retreating, the temperature is getting to tolerable levels, and both people and dogs are coming out of hibernation.  

We’re excited to see the sun again and spend time outside.  And then Mother Nature says, April Fools! The joke is on us….because the melting snow and warmer temps means mud season!  

As a dog mom to four dogs, I can honestly say that mud season is my least favorite season.  And as a pet photographer, I can honestly say that most people agree with me and don’t want to have their pet portrait sessions done in early spring.  Besides the mud it just really isn’t a visually appealing season until the spring flowers start to bloom and the grass greens up.

But what if you don’t have the luxury of waiting until summer?  If you have a senior dog and you’re worried that you don’t have much more time?  Or the flip side, you have a new puppy and want to capture that short window of pudgy puppy belly?  Maybe you just have spring fever and can’t wait to get out and get some photos of your dog?

My three favorite locations for early spring dog photos in the Novi/Northville area:

Maybury State Park, Northville:

I love the wide paved paths of Maybury State Park!  You can keep your pup mud free and still get some beautiful images.  At this time of year cloud cover is usually still pretty heavy, which is actually great for forested areas. It keeps the lighting even without the dappled light that can be so distracting in photos.  A bonus are the big fallen trees along the paths, a perfect perch for a dog that likes to explore a bit. You do need to have the recreation passport but it’s worth it.

Some images shot at Maybury park in late March:

A tri colored English shepherd sits on a forest path
An alert English shepherd dog laying in the dead grass at Maybury State Park, Michigan

Pavilion Shore Park, Novi:

My friend Adrienne introduced me to Pavilion Shore park. I was actually a little worried when I first pulled up to the parking lot.  I like a good challenge but this flat, open area seemed like it might be difficult to find a variety of backgrounds. But once I walked around a bit I realized how fantastic the park is in early spring.  The stone boulders and piers overlooking Walled Lake create so many options to get good photos without dealing with the mud or dead grass. I’m sure it’s a great spot in late spring and summer as well, but so far it’s my favorite spring photography spot.

Some images from Pavilion Shore Park on Walled Lake:

The boulder wall at Pavilion Shore Park near Lakeshore Park in Novi makes a great place for this small cream dog to play
A little cream dog sits in front of stone columns in Lakeshore Park in Novi, Michigan, licking his lips and waiting for the next treat!

Downtown Northville:

There are so many cute storefronts in downtown Northville that you’ll be sure to find some great backgrounds.  Be sure to pop into Celebrity Pets Co on Main Street to get a treat or a new toy while you’re out. And a bonus is stopping at Browndog Barlor. Get a dog-friendly ice cream sundae, complete with dog biscuit on top.  Talk about a good photo opp! P.S. They have artisan ice cream, sometimes with alcohol, for humans. Win win.

Black newfoundland puppy in front of Northville, Michigan, downtown store fronts

So those are my 3 favorite locations to get some great photos of dogs in early spring.  Do you have any good spots that you want to share?

Special April shout out to our friends at Furry Kids Pet Photography:

Jill Piper of Furry Kids Pet Photography is a pet-loving photographer located in Minot, Maine, USA. Check out her post, “The Best of Both Worlds? The Cat/Dog Hybrid” as you follow the next link in this blog chain.…/best-of-both…


Park, Photo Session

Yep, you read that right, Pawdacious Portraits has officially gone international!  Earlier this year I had the chance to work with the cutest dachshund in Verona, Italy.  Little P and his family are stationed on an American base in Italy so this adorable dog is exploring Europe for a few years, lucky pup!  And lucky pet photographer to get to work with him on location in the historic center of Verona!

I explored the town before the session, looking for areas that would make good backdrops and showcase some of the Italian history and culture, in addition to Little P.  It was important that the images didn’t look like they could have been taken in Michigan, I really wanted some of that Italian flair. I also wanted Little P’s pawrents to have amazing memories of their European adventures when they finally head back to the states.  This wasn’t just a portrait session, I wanted to document a slice of their lifestyle while they were living in Italy.  Luckily the city is filled with great locations. The hardest part of the day was trying to find a parking spot but once that was secured we were off!

Brown dachshund dog in Italian fountain

Little P posed like a champ….except when he spotted the ducks in the Madonna fountain, then it was time to work!  And he did an excellent job of chasing those ducks away and entertaining the crowd at the same time. We spent two hours wandering around a small city park, the Piazza delle Erbe, some of the small streets surrounding the piazza, and our rental apartment (with balcony).  I love the variety of images that we were able to take- from action shots to portraits. 

We topped off Little P’s photoshoot with a new squeaky toy, brought all the way from the US, and gelato (at least for his mom). A great day for everyone!  

See more images from Little P’s international dog portrait session on the Pawdacious Portraits IG account.  And follow him on his European adventures via the Outside This Small Town IG account and travel blog.

A brown dachshund dog on a vintage couch in an elegant home


The Pawdacious Portraits 2019 travel schedule is still being set but feel free to contact me if you’re interested in an on location dog portrait session.



Dog, Park

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure to attend an Instagram group meet up at the Swift Run dog park in Ann Arbor.  The event was put together as part of the Dogs of the Mitten Instagram group, run by Chance (the double dood). I’d already been following many of these dogs’ antics on IG for a while so it was fun to see them, actually be able to pet them, and get to know some of the humans behind the profiles. (I did feel a bit like a fangirl!)  Dog people are the best!

A golden doodle mix holding a toy at the Swift Run dog park  

There are lots of action shots here since the pups were all about running around with their new friends.  Most had no interest in sitting down for a portrait when there was shenanigans to be had! And I don’t blame them.  I love action shots anyway, and at most of my formal portrait sessions the dogs are on a leash for safety so this made a nice change of pace.

A border collie mix runs happily with a tennis ball in a dog park

It can be difficult to get the clean backgrounds that I love when shooting at a dog park, so these are a combination of using a long telephoto lens and some serious behind the scenes editing.

A corgi runs towards the camera in full sunlight at an Ann Arbor dog park

If you want some great dog photos to fill your Instagram feed I highly recommend that you follow these adorable pups:

@dogsofthemitten – a great place to keep up to date on the next meet up!

@champ_the_doubledood – the most boopable nose out there.

@goodboyclub_  – besides a charming name, this account will give you your corgi fix.

@subiloon – a beagle mix that will take you along on all her adventures, buckle up.

@thecharlieadventures – this Chow Chow will steal your heart!  You’ve been warned…

@enz0bella – two adorable pups.  You can even ask Enzo questions in an advice column.

@elbow_berghuis – this little rescue pup will crack you up!

@levibluedood – so much adorableness wrapped in a little package!

@ripley_theborderaussie – don’t let your dog see this IG feed or it will also be asking for daily trips outside.

@twocatsandanewf – I may be a little prejudiced since I have two myself, but Newfs are amazing!  And this one is will keep you entertained.

@life_of_laila_ – a sweet pitbull mix, and she always has a smile on her face.

A mixed breed rescue dog plays at the dog park in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Okay, these technically aren’t IG accounts of specific dogs, but they did support the Dogs of the Mitten meet up with all kinds of goodies so I like to share the love:

@bentleyspetstuffannarbor – all kinds of good stuff for pets in Ann Arbor.

@chronicallyperserving_instyle – bandanas for the fashion forward dogs, plus a donation to service dogs!

@thebrownbasset  – yummy treats for your pups, in Chelsea

@PawdaciousPortraits – that’s me!!  Specializing in custom portraits of your favorite family members….your pets!  At your home or in a park


There are other Dogs of the Mitten accounts that you can follow, I apologize if I’ve missed anyone from the Sept meet up.  There are more images available on the Pawdacious Portraits’ Facebook page.

Does your dog have an Instagram account that we can follow?  
If so, leave it in the comments.  If not, why not? Give me a call to set up a pet portrait session to create some amazing images to get started! 

A beagle mix and a german shepherd dog running at full speed through the grass of a dog park in Michigan