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Tips for Including Your Pet in Family Holiday Photos

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

Read By: Pet Lovers
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Pets have become an important part of our families and it only seems natural to include them in our family holiday photos. To help you with this process, here are some tips to guide you to have the perfect pet and family photo for this holiday season.

1. First – start planning early. It's never too early to start planning for the photo. Decide when, where, who will be in the photo and who will take the photos. Schedule a date, time, location, and organize the photographer with all involved.

2. What will everyone wear? As part of your planning, consider what everyone will be wearing including your family pet! When considering attire, consider your background and what will look best. For example, if you have a golden retriever, you may not want everyone to wear yellow or gold. If you have an Irish setter, red may not be the best color for everyone or your pet may fade into the background. Black pets are often flattered by light colors and light-colored pets by dark colors.

3. Get everything together. Gather everyone's outfits, including any special pet outfits, bandanas, collars, Santa suits and the like. Try them on your pet to make sure they fit. Reward your pet for good behavior if he tolerates the outfit. Try it on a few times before the photo shoot to avoid any problems and to make sure your pet is "used" to the outfit.

4. Consider your photo location. Most dogs can be happy having photos taken anywhere. However, some dogs can be nervous and prefer the comfort of your own home. If that is the case, consider an attractive backdrop such as near trees outdoors or inside around the fireplace or a favorite chair. Consider decorating the background for the holiday to give the photo that extra holiday spirit. Most cats are much more comfortable indoors and if you have an indoor only cat, it may be your only option.

5. Who will be next to or hold the pet? Consider where your pet would look good in the photo and which person he is most comfortable with. Make sure they practice sitting together and are comfortable well before the photo. One easy solution is to have the pet on the lap of someone that they are most comfortable with.

6. Get your pet's attention - During some photos, you want the pet's attention to be focused on the photographer. Be prepared. Dogs may respond to their names, squeak toys, treats or other interesting objects to capture their attention. Take some of these items with you on the photo shoot. String, ribbon, feathers or noises may capture the attention of cats.

7. If you are the photographer, make sure you capture the moment. Try to capture not only posed photos but some impromptu photos of the time between shots. Don't draw attention to yourself. Quietly take the photos.

8. Take lots of photos. If possible, go digital. This will allow you to take lots of photos and review them without the expense of developing each picture.

9. Keep the experience low-key. Pets respond to stress, often negatively. They will be less inclined to sit still and may hide. Don't loose your calm, don't yell, and speak quietly. Make it a peaceful and joyful experience.

10. Consider the best angle for shooting your pet and family. The best angle is often at eye level.

11. Camera tips – you may want to set your shutter speed on a fairly fast frame in case the pet moves. If you are using a traditional film camera, consider 400 speed films.


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