Normal people take family photos for their annual Christmas cards, right? Yeah. Not me. Instead, every year I dress up my pets and make it all about them. I don't even send out Christmas cards (hm, I'll work on that). Instead of Christmas cards, I have a wall in my home with frames from every year that contain photos of all our pets dressed for the holidays. I'm crazy. And one proud pet mama.
For the last six years, I've been annoyingly taking photos of my fur babies around this time of year because 1). it's my favorite time of the year and 2). they're just too cute. I mean, when they're adorably dressed in those Christmas sweaters how can you let that moment pass you by? As they say, if it's not documented, it didn't happen.
In fact, sticking with my annual tradition has taught me a lot of valuable pet photography tips. My level is pretty basic but every year I've learned something new. In celebration of the sixth year, I'm sharing six ways that can make photographing animals easier (and enjoyable). If you're a pet mom, here are six ways to help you successfully capture holiday photos of your pets (so then you can show them to everyone you run into).
1). Stick with one pet at a time. I tried getting both my dogs in one shot and I just couldn't do it. One dog looked the other way, while the other decided to lay down or walk away from the room entirely. My dogs have a tendency to march to the beat of their own drum. They are pretty crazy and aren't exactly trained. So for those who have pets that are trained, you will definitely have a smoother experience. When your pets know basic commands, you're able to communicate better and have more control of the setting. But to guarantee overall quality, it works to photograph one pet at a time. Plus, it's nice to have that one-on-one time.
2). Prepare the space beforehand. On the day you plan to take your pictures, set the stage to reflect your theme. If it's a Christmas photo, it helps to have the background decorated with some holiday spirit. Because your dog will just be sitting there. You're lucky if you can squeeze a prop in the shot before you have to yell, "drop it!" With my dogs, I have to child proof everything. I mean, everything. And of course, no props for us. They'll take it and I'll never get it back. I'm lucky enough that they tolerate pet clothes.
3). Pet clothes add character. When you know your theme, shop around for inexpensive clothes and/or pet accessories that can help enhance your photographs. I found these adorable Ellen Degeneres Christmas scarves for my dogs at Petsmart during their Black Friday sale last week. These alone add so much adorableness to the photographs.
4). Treats. Don't forget to reward your dog for putting up with the photoshoot to begin with. It also helps to have some cookies on hand when your taking your shots, and when you need them to stand still and look up towards you.
5). Lighting is key. I love natural lighting. Setting the stage for your photoshoot near a large window will make your life so much easier and make editing a breeze.
6). Talk in your puppy voice. Give your pet positive reinforcement with high pitch lovey dovey voices and use words that you know your pet will respond to. And just a note: dogs are way easier to photograph than cats, as cats have a mind of their own and tend to just walk out on you. I have photographed my cats before, but it's kind of around their schedule and not mine ha-ha. Let me know if you want to read some tips for photographing your feline friends.