Getting the Perfect Shot

Tips for taking a holiday photo of the furry kids
By JoAnna Lou, December 2009

With the holidays quickly approaching, I decided that it was time to take our annual portrait of the dogs to send out with the Christmas cards. Not only is it fun to give our friends a cute photo, but it's nice to look back at the dogs over the years. This time we were inspired by an old childhood picture of a friend and her trusty pup dressed up for the ski slopes. 

To get a good shot, it certainly helps to have very patient dogs and a good sit stay, but regardless, taking a picture of multiple animals can be a challenge. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you’re capturing your holiday portrait:

  • Plan the shot you want in advance, but allow for flexibility.
  • In general, keep it simple.
  • Find a solid, contrasting backdrop that is free of objects that will detract from your main subject(s).
  • Enlist the help of a friend to get the pets to look at the camera, wrangle them into position, and bribe them with treats to stay in place.
  • Turn off your flash and use natural lighting. Outdoors, away from direct sunlight, is ideal.
  • Get on your knees and take the picture at your pet’s eye level (not looking down at them).
  • Pre-focus your camera so that you’re ready to capture the shot as soon as your pups get into the perfect position (for most point-and-shoot cameras, this means pressing the shooting button halfway while pointing it at your desired subject).
  • Make it a positive experience. Keep the session short and feed lots of treats and/or incorporate play. You don't want your crew to hate getting their picture taken!

For more pet photography tips, read oil pastel artist Sarah Theophilus’ Pet Photography Tips, the AKC’s Holiday Canine Photo Tips, and professional photographer Nick Kelsh’s Tips for Photographing Pets.


Good luck and have fun!

JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

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