8 Tips for Getting the Perfect Pet Photo for the Holidays


Did you know that six out of 10 pet owners consider their pets family members? And when it comes time for holiday cards, of course we want the entire family included.

Tips to Get Your Furry Best Friend to Pose for the Camera

From refrigerator-worthy postcard greetings to frame-worthy family portraits, getting great pet photos can be tricky. To help, we compiled some tried-and-true tips from photographers and other experts. In fact, all the photos on this page are from professional pet photographer Taylor Starch, who gives even more tips in the Instagram Live at the bottom of this post,

Get Your Pet Familiar with the Camera

Cats and dogs are wary of new devices and the sounds they make. Try pointing the lens away from your pet and clicking the shutter to get him comfortable with the camera and its noises. You can even treat your pet every time your camera makes a noise. Pairing the sound with a reward helps him associate the camera with a positive experience which will make for a better photo.

Be Mindful of Lighting

No one wants her pet to have red or yellow “laser eyes” in photos. To avoid this, skip the flash if possible. If you don’t have manual controls on your camera, take the photos in natural light outside during the day, so you avoid the dreaded yellow-green glare in your pet’s eyes. A flash can also frighten your pet, so if you must use one, choose one that can be pointed toward the ceiling rather than straight ahead.

Minimize Distractions

Don’t photograph her in a place she’ll be distracted by people or other animals because that can affect the photo. You should also limit props to what is necessary (if anything at all) and let her check them out beforehand.

Let Your Pet be Themself

Instead of putting him in a prolonged sit, capture his personality. Let him play; after all, an active pet is a happy pet. Plus, he may get a little of his restlessness out of the way early in the session, which means less chasing and more snapping for you.

Get Down Low

Don’t be afraid to bring the camera down to your pet’s level to take the photo. This is always a great idea for photos of just your puppy or kitty but can absolutely work with you in them too. Just get down on the same level as your pet — sit down next to him or lie on your belly with him. This camera angle can make the photographs more visually interesting.

Keep Things Fun

If you try to force things, that will become evident in your photos. The more fun your pet is having, the more your holiday photo will look genuine and loving! If you are looking for a formal “posed” photo, that’s great. Photos of you and your family interacting with your pet can feel more meaningful. Keep things light-hearted and fun.

Use Treats and Sounds

Have the person taking the photo use treats to get your dog or cat’s attention. If you are looking for an adorable head tilt, have the photographer try using sounds (squeakers or hunting calls, meows like a cat or whine like a puppy), or words (walk, car, ride, etc.) that typically get them excited. Then reward them with a treat!

Be Patient

This one goes hand in hand with keeping your session comfortable and short. Pets are like kids: They lose attention and get bored quickly. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get the shot you’re looking for on the first try. Take a break. Try again. It’ll happen — and sometimes the best photos are of candid moments, not posed ones.

How to Share Your Holiday Pet Photos

Now that you’ve captured the perfect holiday pet photos, it is time to share your photos on social media or, 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:

  • We Woof You a Merry Christmas / We Wish You a Meowy Christmas
  • Meowy & Bright
  • Feliz Navi-dog!
  • Deck the Paws
  • The Furriest Noel
  • Santa Paws is coming to town!
  • Wishing you all a collar-ful Christmas!
  • Happy Howl-idays!
  • Jingle Paws

For more tips, check out this Instagram Live:


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