So you are looking to include your pets in your holiday photos? Well, that’s understandable - they are a part of your family after all! But, it’s easier said than done, right? Lucky for you, we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves to help you capture the best holiday pet photos.
Taking the purr-fect holiday photo with your pet
What you need
Before we get started, there’s a few things you will need to have handy to capture the picture-perfect photo.
- A Camera, ideally with a timer. Most people nowadays use their phone’s camera that can give you some really good pics. Try using the ‘bursts’ function that takes several photos in a row, increasing your chances of getting the purr-fect shot.
- Treats for your dog or cat can help reward them for staying still or focus their attention on the camera.
- Festive attire for you and/or your pet (optional)
- A Tripod (optional). You can also DIY your tripod by propping your phone up on books, shelf, or wall.
- Ring Light (optional). Of course, you want to have good lighting so that the photo comes out with everyone, including your pet, looking their best.
- A pet toy/treat phone accessory, like the Pedigree SelfieStix
Things to consider
Once you have gathered all you need to take the photo, here is what you need to consider:
- Your Location: Find a good spot that comfortably fits your family. Popular festive spots include near the fireplace, on the couch, next to the Christmas tree, or in your backyard somewhere.
- Background: Solid color walls can make great backdrops, as can brick walls. You can even hang a bedsheet—but make sure it’s nicely pressed, without wrinkles.
- Lighting: You’ll want to make sure your location has good lighting unless you have ring lighting you can set up. Pets don’t like flashes too, so avoid using one for your photo. Natural light tends to photograph best, and the light source should be in front of you. If you’re inside, open all the windows to let in plenty of light and then face the windows so the light isn’t behind you. If you’re outside, find a spot with some shade so the sun’s not in anyone’s eyes.
- Your festive outfit: Your style options are endless. You could go Christmas chic with your dog, get everyone dressed to the nines and add a bowtie to your pets’ collar. Or aim for an “holiday jumper” vibe and pop some reindeer antlers on your pet. But remember: Dressing up might not be as fun for your pet as it is for you. If your dog or cat isn’t accustomed to wearing clothing, practice with them in advance. Rewarding them with treats and praise can help them get comfortable. But be sensitive to their feelings—if your pet shows signs of stress, don’t push it. Instead, opt for a festive collar or bandana, or simply let your pet’s personality shine all on its own.
Now it’s time to strike a pose… but how do you set up everyone for your best photo? Use a "V" method - line everyone up with the tallest people on the ends and shortest in the middle, so that the tops of your heads make a V shape. For cats and small dog breeds, you may want a family member to pose holding them. That’ll prevent them from wandering off. Decide on your arrangement before bringing in your pets, so you can make the setup process as quick as possible. You’ll likely have about 5 to 10 minutes before your pet gets too bored or overwhelmed to participate in the photo.
Next, call attention to the camera. For many pet parents, the biggest challenge of taking pictures with dogs or cats is getting them to look at the camera. There are a couple different things to try. It helps if someone else is able to take the photo. If your pet already knows and likes this person, even better—they’re more likely to look up when they call their name. But it can be hard to decide who sits out of the family photo?
You can also try propping up their favourite toy next to your camera. Once your pet locks eyes on that toy, it’ll appear that they’re looking directly at the camera. Another helpful invention is the Pedigree SelfieStix for smartphones that can help grab a dog’s attention. The SelfieStix is made to fit the DentaStix treats perfectly, and motivate your dog to face the camera.
This is also the time to break out the treats. One of the biggest hurdles of photo-taking with pets is getting them to sit still. Practicing your dog’s sit and stay skills in advance can help. When it’s time to take the photo, give your dog the command, snap the photo, then reward them with a treat. Hey, what about us cat parents? Your cat might not sit on command, but you can still use treats to encourage them to chill on your lap or in your arms.
Top Tip: Give your pet lots of playtime and exercise before your photo shoot. A tired cat or dog is more likely to stay chill and still for photos, so make sure to work a long walk, game of fetch or feather wand session into your schedule for the day.
Remember to Have Fun!
Turn on some festive music to set the mood, tell some jokes to get some smiles and laughter among the humans, and plan for something fun to do afterward as a nice reward, like walk outside or some extra playtime. Remember to take breaks when your pet shows signs of stress, like panting, vocalizing or acting standoff-ish. The real joy and togetherness you create in the moment will translate beautifully to your photo.
Once you have the purr-fect shot, it’s time to share your photo on social media and tag us in your photos @petdirect.co.nz or use #petdirectnz. If you’re going old-school, create some printed pet holiday cards. For extra holiday cheer, add a festive, pet-themed pun! Some of our favorites are:
- We wish you a meowy Cat-mas
- Have a furry Christmas
- Deck the Paws
- Barkin’ Around the Christmas Tree
- Happy Paw-lidays!
- Jingle Paws
However you choose to share the joy these holidays, the PetDirect team wishes you a furry merry one!