Building A Dog Family Portrait

It feels so long ago now, but back in the Summer I spent an incredible morning photographing the most adorable whippet puppies and their Mam for their dog family portrait. The puppies were due to be going off to their new homes a few weeks after the session and their human wanted to capture some special memories to cherish before they left for their new adventures.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly nervous about photographing 12 puppies (yep, that many!), especially because the ultimate aim was to capture a family portrait of all of them together with Mam. The word CARNAGE may have come to mind, but it was a challenge I wasn’t going to turn down.

I really wasn’t exaggerating when I said carnage! We had a hilarious attempt at photographing all 12 puppies inside a vintage trunk. Picture this, if you will…12 pristine, angelic puppies all posed perfectly, curled up with their chins resting on the edge of the trunk. That was the vision in my head. What we got was a slapstick comedy scene, followed by the Great Escape! I don’t think I’ve laughed so much at a session before. The puppies were so full of beans and absolutely nothing was going to keep them contained in that trunk.

whippet puppies photographed in a vintage trunk

To give the pups (and us) a rest we decided on some individual shots next. I’d brought a vintage child’s chair with me so we popped each pup up in turn for them to have their moment to shine. We may have had a couple of comedy moments and photo-bombs here and there. And at one point I was trying to photograph one puppy, whilst one sat on my lap, one stuck its head in my face and another was trying to dangle off my ponytail – how I wish I’d had someone recording behind the scenes footage at this point!!

whippet puppies photographed sitting on a red chair

With the puppies tired out a little, it was time to re-attempt the family portrait. This time, with the help of some plant pots to contain the wriggly little buggers. Add in some intricate planning and we managed to pull it off.

I won’t lie, Photoshop was very much my friend for this shot. With twelve puppies to contend with it was nigh on impossible to get them all looking in the same direction at the same time, and knowing that we had some escape artists on on hands too (did you see the trunk fiasco?!), the most sensible thing to do was to photograph three pups in a pot at a time and then I spent an hour or so in Photoshop building a dog family portrait. I was little gutted as it would have been epic to have been able to get this done in camera in one perfect shot, but I know when it’s more sensible to call on my editing skills instead, and this was definitely one of those moments.

whippet puppies and mother photographed in plant pots for a dog family portrait