Christmas is just around the corner, and we all know ’tis the season for numerous photo ops- ugly Christmas sweaters, family gatherings, concerts, the opening of presents, Christmas cards…the list goes on.
Today we will discuss the one holiday photo op that proves more difficult to capture Christmas spirit in- those with your pets.
First I will start off by saying I am not a professional photographer but I have taken my fair share of snapshots with my fur baby over the holidays- both Halloween and Christmas. Hopefully you will learn a thing or two from my trials and errors.
Here we go.
Sleepy subjects make the best subjects. When your beloved fur baby is in a calm state it is easier to get your desired shot- they will be less distracted and will hold a position longer. If your pet is well trained, even better! This will make your job a whole lot easier.
Come prepared with treats and a helping hand. Before you begin your photo op, it is important to have some treats on hand to give your furry subject every now and then. Most likely your pet won’t be jumping for joy at the prospect of sitting still for a photo and especially not while wearing a costume. Also, an extra pair of hands really helps when you are trying to juggle a camera, props, and pet all at once.
Consider your pet’s personality. Is there any chance you can even get Mr. Fluffy into Santa’s elf costume? Some animals I wouldn’t dare attempt to put in a costume. Is it worth the hassle, scratches and grumpy presence? I am lucky- I have been blessed with Simba who is used to photo shoots and who wears bandannas on the regular. With that being said, he isn’t thrilled about putting on a holiday costume but will endure it for a few minutes with treats to please his momma. You are the best judge. If there is no way you’re getting a costume on Mr. Fluffy- no problem. Use some string lights, ribbon, ornaments, wrapped presents and place them around your shot. If your pet isn’t dressed up you won’t notice as the Christmas vibes will still be present in the photo.
Flash is a no-no. For me, I enjoy turning off all harsh lighting which allows Christmas lights to shine. You would be surprised at how pretty your pictures can turn out without any flash in a dark atmosphere. If you’re not a fan of the one source of light being string lights, your best option is natural light.
Location, location, location. Think about your pet and where they would tolerate posing most when it comes to the photo location. Do you think you can capture a beautiful action shot of your puppy outside playing in the snow? Go for it! If you have a cat it can be more tricky. Personally, with Christmas pictures, I always have my pets pose by a decorated tree. Do you have an ottoman? If the answer is yes, place it in front of the tree with a nice blanket or tablecloth on top (or you can leave it bare). If you don’t have an ottoman use a low chair or a table with a soft blanket. You can even place their pet bed underneath the tree like I have done before- they will naturally go sleep in it and voila, your holiday photo done! Also, most times when I set up string lights and decor on the ottoman, cats being the curious creatures they are, will hop up naturally to explore. Even the dog will hop up! There are many opportunities.
Get low. Make sure you are taking your photographs when you are at eye level with your pet, as these work best. Whether you’re getting down on the living room floor or dirty snow- it will be worth it.
Get your pet to look up. I have taken many photos of my Simbalicious and I will say that majority of the photos that turn out are the ones where he is looking up. You can get your pet to look up by having toys at the ready to guide their attention upwards, however, just enough to have them look up- not leap up. If you don’t have any toys handy, use treats or if outdoors hold a stick in your hand or throw snow in the air to get them to look up- just don’t have your pet look downward.
Know when your pet needs a break. If you’re a few minutes into the photo shoot and aren’t liking how the photos are coming out, meanwhile Mr. Fluffy is getting antsy, now is a good time to take a break and come back. Your subject is most likely tired of staying in one place while wearing a costume and you’re probably tired of taking so many pictures, rearranging things here and there. Trust the process.
Take a lot of pictures. There’s no such thing as too many pictures when it comes to shooting your pet- so snap away! You will thank yourself when you’re looking back at your camera roll and see some shots out of focus. Also within the options that look similar I guarantee you there will be that one slight difference that makes all the difference. I also advise to use a digital camera if you have one. Phones can suffice but the quality isn’t always there- in my case at least.
Now you’re ready to snap those adorable holiday photos of your fur babies.
Will Santa Claws be appearing in this year’s Christmas photos?