The 9 Best Pet Photographers in Washington, D.C.
You probably already realize that Washington, D.C., is one of the best places in the nation to find outstanding photographers. There’s so much going on in the area to document, and the creative ecosystem enables top-tier talent to not only find amazing shooting locations but truly thrive. Thankfully, that extends to the wide and wonderful world of pet photography, with all its slobber, whiskers, and big ole pet smiles. Our list of the top Washington, D.C., pet photographers, listed in no particular order, features a range of styles and specializations, so there’s absolutely someone featured here that you and your furry friend are going to adore.
1. Sarah Meashaw of Pooch Portrait Studio
If you’re looking for a master of studio lighting and a clean, modern look, do yourself a favor and get in touch with Sarah Meashaw. When you peruse her portfolio, the work speaks for itself: there’s great outdoor photography, but the in-studio work is full of flawless lighting, colorful backdrops, and tasteful yet playful expressions. It’s probably what a lot of people picture in their heads when they think of professional pet portraits and, for our money, we think she does it better than just about anyone.
2. Sara Riddle
Sara Riddle specializes in shots of pets with their people, which does come with its own considerations. With a quick shutter speed, photographers can often manage to capture great shots of overstimulated or nervous pets, but when you throw a human into the mix for the scene, the photographer has to have an added layer of control over the working environment. Being able to naturally interact with difficult pets is a key skill of pet photography, something that sets the great apart from the average. Riddle’s natural light outdoor shoots are bright and colorful, and we appreciate that she’s always ready to encapsulate the sparkle in the eyes of her subjects. It lends her photographs a real sense of being active and full of life.
3. Annie Ballantine of Artful Paws Photography
Annie Ballantine of Artful Paws covers all the service-related bases: outdoor sessions, in-studio work, and portraits of animals with their people. Not all Washington, D.C., pet photographers do all of those things, so it’s always good to double-check. Her shots in the studio are timeless, classic portraits, full of dignity and yet a little playful. Outdoors, she does a stellar job of filling the frame with your pup’s goofy, energetic expressions. These are portraits that will look great framed above the mantle for years to come.
4. Julie Gould of Bright Eyes Photography
Julie Gould is a talented pet photographer with, as she puts it, a “dogumentary” style. We love it — both her style, as well as the pun. (See also: “pawdels” instead of “models.) She excels at capturing snippets of the real lives your dogs lead, the kind of moments that — when strung together along a timeline — make up your wonderful, love-filled life with them. Even when she’s employing this photojournalistic style, it’s still informed by traditional photography techniques, from classical composition to pitch-perfect color correction.
5. Brad Novak
Brad Novak’s photos are full of effortless charm. They’re natural but artful, the kind of work that doesn’t go out of style, that will stay a treasured memento for as long as you cherish it. We also appreciate that Novak works so hard to give back to the animals he loves by volunteering his time to animal rescues and, perhaps especially, by regularly serving as a foster. Novak is not unique in this graciousness — many pet photographers are intimately involved in their area’s animal rescue community — but Novak takes the responsibility seriously.
6. Lori Gross of Red Leash Photography
Lori Gross strives to emulate the polished, clean style of wildlife photography, making well-saturated, brightly lit and natural images of your pets. She takes the time to get to know your pets, then allows them to be themselves — which in turn allows her to capture all of their moods and expressions, from curious to sleepy. But in the end, for her, it’s all about joy. And that’s real and true, isn’t it? We share our lives with animals for a very simple reason: because it makes us happier and it makes them happier. You’ll love Lori Gross’s photos.
Take a look at Ironi Schleder’s portfolio, and you’ll see a lot of relaxed dogs having fun. Her ability to get dogs to open up around her and be themselves cements her position among the best Washington, D.C., pet photographers, but we also love her special focus on bathtub sessions, an offbeat kind of pet photoshoot that’s unrelentingly adorable but that a lot of owners don’t think about. Your pet will become fond of Schleder, and you’ll adore the memories she makes.
Hannele Lahti is one of our favorite Washington, D.C., pet photographers, in part because her approach to the field is different than most. Lahti focuses much of work in commercial photography, helping brands incorporate dogs into their campaigns. Fortunately for us normal folk, she also does private commissions. But every one of her images has a slick, stylish, magazine-ready look. Take a look at her work, and you’ll see what we mean. She’s great at capturing a dog’s personality, whether it’s silly and cheerful or grumpy and hungry, because she knows — just like you do — that every dog’s personality is multi-faceted, and that every dog is charming all of the time.
9. J.B. Shepard of the Puptrait Studio
J.B. Shepard’s pet portrait studio might be located much further from Washington, D.C., than any of the other names on this list. But as he is widely celebrated as one of the premier pet photographers in the world, we believe most D.C. and NoVA dog lovers will agree that his talent is well worth the 50-minute drive.
J.B is best known for his signature Paper Hat portraits, which feature handmade pet costumes — including Elizabethan style ruff collars, top hats, derbys, stetsons, and other whimsical pet fashion designs — constructed from painstakingly sorted colored scraps of up-cycled newsprint, cardboard, and other post consumer paper products. These delightful costume designs combine with masterful studio lighting and gallery-quality prints to provide a refreshingly unique pet portrait experience that you simply will not find anywhere else.
Some bonus tips!
When you’re choosing a pet photographer, we’d recommend comparing rates and packages, not relying solely on whose photos you react to emotionally. For our purposes, we’ve focused on the artistic qualities of these photographers, but each also offers a unique blend of service offerings. Some focus on delivering more digital images (perfect if your primary goal is to post them online), while others bundle framed photos, wall art, or gift books.
In addition, some photographers offer specialized session types, like underwater sessions or puppy packages. What all of the pros on our list of the best Washington, D.C., pet photographers can provide you is a memento of your pet that you’ll be crazy about. And since we love pet photos more than just about anything, we hope you’ll remember to tag us with #MadeinPeerspace so we can squeal with delight when your fur baby’s photos hit Instagram.