There’s still time to take a photo together with your pet for a Christmas card (and if there is not much time, go green and send digital cards instead) and it’s only natural that you want to include your pets too. We have a few tips to help turn the treasured moments with your pets into beautiful photos.
Plan the scenes, prepare the props
Make a rough plan of what scenes you’d like to shoot. It can be easy to structure it around your day: snuggling in bed with your pet, feeding them and having breakfast, going out for a nice walk, playtime, relaxing at home together. If there are any special events (someone’s birthday, a playdate with another pet, a visit to a dog playground or training facility), you can try to catch those too.
Prepare the props you might need for the shoot: your pet’s favorite toys, a costume if your pet is willing to wear one, a nice bed or basket they can lounge in. Prepare some of your pets’ favorite treats but use them sparingly – you want to keep your pet interested in doing what you’re asking them to do, not necessarily to doze off with a belly full of snacks.
Find the right time in your day
Don’t stress about catching a particular time or event in your day. It’s easiest to take photos of your pets when they are relaxed and you’re not stressing about how much time you have or the results you’re getting. Make the atmosphere comfortable and pleasant, and you’ll get better photos as a result. If you like, invite a friend over so that they can assist you during the shoot.
Prepare the space
Decide where most of your photo shoot is going to take place. Tidy up that space, move some of the furniture away if needed, check that the background of your photos isn’t too busy or distracting. Pay attention to the details: some pet furniture may need a quick vacuuming or a go with a lint roller; if there’s a clawed-up corner on your sofa that you don’t like, put a throw over it or find a different angle for the photos.
Ideally, find a place with a source of outdoor light as it works really well for pictures with pets. You don’t necessarily need professional lighting and it can be quite distracting, so aim to get the best lighting you can without too much hassle.
Do some practice rounds
Get your pet used to the camera before you have any high-stakes or dress-up photo shoots. Some pets are curious about the clicking device in your hands but some might get scared or not want to perform for the camera. If posing and being taken pictures of is nothing new for your pet, they’ll be more relaxed. You’ll also have a chance to practice your photography skills and figure out good locations at home or outdoors. Even when in the beginning a lot of photos aren’t quite right, you’ll still have a few good shots that you might want to keep.
Don’t let this all feel like a chore or another project to cross off your list. Remember to enjoy the process! You can create traditions around taking pictures of your pets or with them. For example, take a picture of your pet in the same setting every year around their birthday (or the time when your pet joined your family, which some people call a “gotcha day”) or around your favorite holidays. You’ll look with fondness at these annual photos of your fur baby.