The holiday season is a great excuse to take photographs of your dog and it's only natural to include them in the holiday spirit! But no matter what Instagram filter you use, the picture won’t be as awesome as you want if your pup can’t sit still, you don’t have the right lighting, the background is all wrong, and did we mention that your pup won’t sit still?
Follow this beginner’s guide to taking a purrrfect holiday picture of your dog (and be the envy of your friends!).
- Natural light is best. A flash can make your pup’s eyes look like they belong to a zombie and the sudden burst of light might frighten them. Try taking the picture on a partly sunny day for the best colors and to avoid flash effects. Very bright, direct sun can cause harsh shadows. Beautiful pictures can be taken at sunrise or sunset too, so try out different times of the day.
- Familiar settings. It may come as no surprise but taking pictures at home may be the best option because your dog is most comfortable there. It's difficult to predict how your dog will be in a studio setting or any new environment. If you aren’t in an enclosed area, it is safest to keep them on a leash. You don’t want to have to chase them down with a camera in your hand! Try fixing the leash to a tree or post so that both hands can be on your camera/phone.
- Know your backdrop. Since you’re shooting a moving subject, first scope out a couple ideal backgrounds for your picture and you can try to position yourself to capture your dog in front of those backgrounds. Seamless paper can easily be cut, discarded and replaced if your pup has an accident. While vinyl backdrops are also great because they are very durable and can easily be washed. If you're hiring a photographer, ask about their stock of specialty holiday backdrops for a festive mood.
- Don’t forget props! A few strategically placed decorations and holiday accessories are all elements of interest that can be added to your scene. Remember to keep safety in mind! Especially if your pup is a chewer so it's best to keep toxic and fragile items away.
- Get on their level. Instead of standing up and looking down at your pup, get down on your knees or belly to see the world from their perspective. Also, instead of calling your pup over to you to snap the picture, go to them.
- Look into their eyes... Animals show a lot of emotion through their eyes so be sure to have those in clear focus to capture the expression.
- Follow the rule of thirds. One photography basic is to make the focal point of the picture off to one side, instead of smack in the middle. You can always crop the photo later to achieve this!
- Practice makes perfect. Before going into the photo shoot, practice your pose with any props or accessories beforehand. If you are hiring a professional photographer, make sure your pup is comfortable around cameras, equipment and has some time to get comfortable.
- Surprise them. As we already mentioned, it’s hard to get your pup to sit in one spot. Let your dog do their own thing and position yourself to take a picture, then whistle or call their name to capture their attention. And then, by golly, hit that button as fast as you can! It might take a few tries to get what you’re looking for, so be patient. If your pup is very high energy, wait to take pictures until he or she is exhausted from a long walk or just woke up from a nap.
- Share it with the world! Now that your pup is photographed in all of their glory, the picture must be shown to all of your friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances, and random passersby. Don’t forget to share it with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!