Dogs at your Family Portrait Session + 3 Photo Books You’ll Want to Check Out | North Carolina Photographer

In March I like to celebrate “Pets and their Peeps,” but before you think we’ve gone to the dogs, consider this: the health benefits of owning a pet (or spending time with someone else’s pet) have been widely documented and are pretty tough to dispute.

For example, did you know that a study published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology titled, “Friends with Benefits: On the Positive Consequences of Pet Ownership” found that having pets provided their humans with a great deal of psychological benefits, like

  • greater self-esteem
  • more exercise
  • greater conscientiousness

and owners enjoyed a better sense of well-being when their pets fulfilled their social needs.  It’s no wonder our pets serve as important sources of social support!

In fact, did you know that the Yale University’s Law Library has a therapy dog, Monty, onsite for students to “check out?” You can read the whole article about him here.


Monty of Yale University

Photography credit: Yale University

Often, when I am speaking to someone in a consult for a family portrait session the question comes up, “Can we include our dog?  He/she is a huge part of our family.”  My answer is always, “Of course!” because I get it.  The animals we keep as pets are a part of our family.  (I am a big believer that our pets choose us, as well!)

Family Portraits with Dogs

Family portrait sessions with your dog are a must! | Barbara Bell Photography

Then there are the people who call because their dog is their family, and they want a portrait of their sweet loved one.

Mack of Tamarack

Mack of Tamarack from his Pet Portrait Session | Barbara Bell Photography

A few years back I was hired to photograph a baptism, and the Pastor of the church came to greet us.  Since he was not conducting the Mass for this ceremony, he brought along a friend. Father Labib and Lucky then began to sing for the family. “Happy Baptism to you” was sung to the tune of “Happy Birthday” and – yes – Lucky joined in.

A priest and his dog | Barbara Bell Photography

I mean – come on! – how cute are they?!

If you don’t have a dog that greets you when you get home tonight, I encourage you to pick up a book of dogs instead.  After all, today – March 2nd– is Read Across America Day.

This is a day the NEA established to encourage children to read more and to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday, an author and illustrator who used animals of all kinds – The Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, Yertle the Turtle – and a few made-up-from-his-imagination animals, to tell wild stories of adventure.

Without further ado, my top three favorite photo books on dogs are:

Why Dogs are Better than Cats by Bradley Trevor Greive and Rachel Hale

Why dogs are better than cats photography book

Cat people, don’t be offended, the author even has a little note in the book about the tongue-in-cheek approach to the title: “The purpose of this book is not to criticize cats or their owners, but to champion the many exceptional virtues unique to dogs.”

What are these unique attributes that make canine companions superior to felines?

“Dogs match up to people. People must match up to cats.
Dogs teach us patience. Cats test our patience.
The bottom line is this: Dogs want love. Cats want fish.”

So if you need a pick-me-up, read this book. If you need a chuckle, read this book. If you want celebrate being pro-dog, read this book.


Dogs Make us Human: A Global Family Album by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Art Wolfe


Dogs Make Us Human


Wildlife photographer Art Wolfe has chosen 100 of his favorite photographs of dogs – including shots from every continent of the world – and teamed up with animal writer Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson to create this heartwarming book.

From Tibet to New York City, from Mongolia to Paris – everywhere on earth, we see dogs living with humans, showing there is no other relationship in nature quite like that between these two.  Our cross-species friendship is a universal relationship that cuts across all cultures and continents.


Little Kids and Their Big Dogs by Andy Seliverstoff

Little Kids and Their Big Dogs

This photography book of little kids and their big dogs will steal your heart!

Andy Seliverstoff of St. Petersburg, Russia, has produced this utterly charming collection of just what the titles says — little kids and the big dogs they love.

Through his lens, impossibly big dogs like Great Danes, Saint Bernards, Leonbergers, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds and some rare ones like Komondorok and Bracchi Italiani show the special relationships they have with the children in their lives.

Seliverstoff says of his work, “In the end, I hope the photos convey this important message: Love for dogs and children makes people kinder.”

Photo by Andy Seliverstoff in his book "Little Kids and Their Big Dogs"

Photo by Andy Seliverstoff in his book "Little Kids and Their Big Dogs"


If you can’t wait to check out Seliverstoff’s book, get a sneak peek at the little kids and their big dogs he has photographed on his Instagram account. WARNING…it’s crazy cute in there!

Contact Barbara Bell Photography for a pet session


PS – Contact Barbara Bell Photography if you are interested in booking your next family portrait or to capture your special event.  Pets are welcome!