Photoshoot fun and games with an independent pet shop

I came across Waggy Woofers in Cockermouth because I regularly work at a dog friendly co-working space just across the road. Here’s the thing – Waggy Woofers isn’t a pet shop, it’s a dog shop! So what do I mean when I say dog shop? Well just that, it caters only for dogs – no cats, no bird food, just lots and lots of fantastic things for dogs.

I’d got chatting to Esther, the owner of Waggy Woofers, about my work as a commercial pet photographer and about the fact she was thinking of a shoot. I’m not going to lie, I got very excited about how she was thinking outside the box. I don’t think I’ve seen another independent pet, sorry, dog shop who have decided to make this investment.

How do you prepare for a commercial photoshoot?

After batting a few ideas around, we came up with a plan to focus on some of Waggy Woofers best sellers, and the fact that we could cover two products in a few of the images to maximise the time. We also talked about how to make best use of the commercial images and the shots we would need for things like the hero image on the website as well as social media content.

The biggest sellers chosen for the shoots were going to be the harnesses by DryDogs and Pawshtails which we could double up on shots with popular treats and toys.

Esther wanted to use a brand ambassador called Bear for the outdoor shoot, a gorgeous gentle rottweiler youngster and a very misunderstood breed and her shop dog Maggie. For the shop shots, she decided to do her own casting call of local dogs which was a great idea to engage with the local community. I gave Esther guidelines on what to ask for, such as a good sit and wait, no resource guarding and other things necessary for a stress free shoot and then she had the difficult decision of choosing!

Dog models & knowing how to improvise on a shoot

The day of the shoot was a rarity in Cumbria – we arrived at Ennerdale Water to clear blue skies! This can be difficult on a shoot, especially considering the location with no shade, but thankfully I’ve been doing this a while, so little things like framing the dogs against the fells meant I could expose the shots better than if a bright sky was in the shot all the time.

Oh and what a shoot we had. Bear was such a lovely goofball but did a cracking job as a model.

When you work with animals, you have to make sure you know how to pivot quickly because things don’t always go to plan, but also you have to be conscious of things going on around you.

One of the things we had to improvise was around a fantastic ostrich bone chew – the bone floats so we wanted a shot of Bear trotting out of the water with it. One problem, Bear hadn’t been in the water much before, and when he was relaxed enough to go in, he just wanted to happily stand there in the cool water….while the ostrich bone slowly started to float away.

Be prepared to get wet, dirty, or both on a pet brand photoshoot

This is one of the reasons why I wear a pair of old trail running shoes for shoots – they dry quickly! So in I waded…to be honest, it was quite refreshing. Our luck was in though – I noticed a couple of dogs just round the corner who seemed to be very much water dogs so I approached the owner to see if we could take a couple of shots of them. And that’s how gorgeous Floss came to the rescue with amazing action shots!
I bring my boys on most photo shoots, they are used to coming and usually settle down pretty quickly. Whenever treats are involved though, I know I have to be on my guard, as you can see, I need eyes in the back of my head! Shadow was very taken with the pate treats!

Making sure there’s variety of photographs

After the shoot at Ennerdale, we headed to the shop at Cockermouth where our next dog models were waiting. We wanted to create shots of dogs coming in and out of the shop, harness fittings and dogs generally having a good time.

Ginny the lab was a natural! She gave me cracking photos just generally looking happy coming in and out of the shop, and it helped that her lovely owner complimented the harness perfectly!

And Woody the English bull terrier – oh my word, some of the cutest photographs of him interacting with the toys and looking hopeful at the dog treat shelves. He was so chilled out, and was quite taken with Esther as she did a pretend fitting – I’m fairly sure his gentle licks may have made their way up a nostril Esther though!

And finally, the sweet rescue Tali was content to calmly wait while we did some harness fitting and enjoyed a sniff of the treats.

In a relatively short period of time, we covered a pretty big variety of not only products, but different backgrounds too.

Support small businesses

If you are ever in Cockermouth, definitely pop in and say hi – they have an excellent variety of natural dog chews for all sizes, natural dog treats, and obviously a great pick of toys & harnesses!

Or you can check out their socials Facebook | Instagram

I’m trying to think, but I don’t think I’ve ever come across a dog only shop, have you!?