Styled desert shoots have become incredibly popular amongst Utah’s bridal community. Locations like Little Sahara, The Golden Cathedral and the Sand Dunes offer a unique opportunity to explore wide spaces and comforting silence. As a added layer of singularity, many photographers are including animals in their arid inspiration shoots. This particular session took place at the Sand Dunes in Kanab, Utah and featured a surprise guest cameo (or should we say… camel-eo). The well-mannered gentleman is named Cosmo and was rented for the day by a petting zoo in Grantsville. While the gentle giant adds a natural nuance to the dune-laden landscape, the inclusion of animals also brings a sense of unpredictability to a shoot. Afterall, ensuring safety and comfort for both models and animals is a top priory of every professional photographer. So before you book a furry figure, consider these tips on animal inclusion.

Evaluate venue regulations

Privately owned venues are unlikely to allow a large animal on site, although it never hurts to ask. A smaller furry friend might be better suited for these venues, such as a dove or perhaps a rabbit. Outdoor locations offer more accessibility for a model like Cosmo, although certain National Parks and sanctuaries enforce strict animal regulations. When in doubt, reach out to a park liaison long before you commute for a shoot.

Hire a handler

Larger animals like horses and llamas are typically accompanied with a handler. The specialized attendant will not only provide feed and clean up services, but the animal is likely to be comforted by their familiar presence. The price of hiring a handler may not be included in rental fees, however they are worth the expense to ensure safety and enjoyment for all parties involved

Consider allergies

Successfully booking a venue and animal appearance can quickly fall apart if allergies have not been considered. Everyone involved in the shoot should be asked to complete an allergy safety form that elaborates on type and severity of the reaction. If necessary, animals that produce dander can be thoroughly cleaned beforehand to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction. It is also possible to book hypoallergenic mammals such as alpacas and certain breeds of horses.

Married couple Jayk and Leandra have been wed for six months, and offered to model for the styled shoot last minute. Photo by Jackie Siggard Photo and Video
“It just fit perfectly to have a camel out in the Sand Dunes,” says photographer Jackie Siggard.
Photo by Jackie Siggard Photo and Video
Photo by Jackie Siggard Photo and Video
Photo by Jackie Siggard Photo and Video
“I was a little worried because animals are unpredictable, but he [Cosmo] did great!” Says photographer Jackie Siggard.
Photo by Jackie Siggard Photo and Video
“We had to hide the florals from Cosmo so he would stop attempting to eat them,” says Jackie Siggard.
Photo by Jackie Siggard Photo and Video

VENDORS
Photographer: @jackiesiggardphotovideo
Planner: @simplyshelbybytylee
Camel: @ivieacresfarm.utahpettingzoo
Florals, Rugs and Decor: @lore.pix
Dress: @oliviasrentals
Couple: @leandra.brooks


Explore more animal-friendly photography here.