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Getting the Perfect Holiday Pet Photo

For many of us the holiday season is in full swing! The holidays bring fabulous food, parties, shopping and decorating. As always I have received my first holiday card from that fabulous friend who has her custom cards complete with the kids and the pets not only photographed but printed and mailed to arrive a mere day after Thanksgiving. Seriously friend? I haven’t even finished the turkey leftovers.

So like most years I already feel behind. But wait, I’m not behind because last year when her card arrived I vowed to take my own dog training advice and photograph my pets early. How early you ask? Last January when we had a beautiful snow I snapped some great pictures of them frolicking around and I staged some by our Christmas tree in December to use this year. It’s just my husband, myself and the dogs so my holiday card features just the pets. So I pulled up the photos, designed a fabulous card with the help of my favorite online photo site and ta-da, cards are being mailed today!

What if you didn’t plan ahead and really need your pets featured on this year’s card? Well I have some tips and tricks to make it easier for you.

  • First, don’t panic! Even you have children and pets you want together in the photo. Reach out to a friend, your dog sitter or a dog trainer to help handle your pets during the photo shoot. Even if it’s not a professional shoot, having someone to help keep the pets happy and calm can make all the difference. This pet friendly person leaves you free to “handle” all the humans and focus on rockin’ your best pose!
  • Use treats and toys to keep pets in a happy mood and position them for the photo. Don’t force them to sit still if they are uncomfortable. Avoid hugging pets, unless they really enjoy it, as they most often look uncomfortable and stressed when hugged. I pose pets in more natural ways, which means they may not be looking directly at the camera. Let them interact with the family in a relaxed manner. Of course a well- timed squeaky toy sound from the photographer can get that perfect shot if you have to have it!
  • Take shots of the pets separately or playing with single family members. You can create a great montage of photos on your card so everyone looks their best. This is often the easiest way to go.
  • Use caution when dressing pets up. Pets are cute enough without embellishment. Unless your pet is accustom to wearing scarves, hats or sweaters now isn’t the best time to introduce these items. Keep it simple with a holiday collar, bandana or bow on the collar to keep with the holiday spirit. I recommend avoiding draping your pet in holiday lights, tinsel or ornaments.
  • Have fun! Let your pets be themselves. Shots of them playing or even sleeping can be great to invoke the fun or peace of the season. Sometimes a funny photo is the best.  My favorite holiday photo of my pets is one where they used a Santa hat to play tug together!
  • Don’t limit yourself to a certain holiday. No matter when you get a great photo you can always just send cards for a corresponding holiday. I often send Happy New Year cards if I’m behind on getting them made.

Now that you are well on your way to a great holiday photo for this year, start planning for next year! Capture photos throughout the season, especially if you get snow for a winter wonderland theme. And to my friend whose early card included an explosion of glitter stars when I opened it, REALLY?

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