Are you looking to take some fun holiday pet photos of your beloved furry companion? Why not take your own fun pet pictures instead of schlepping all the way to the mall or pet store for the typical Santa photos? We talked with Chantal Adair, The Dog Styler (@thedogstyler and thedogstyler.com) to give us some tips on how to take inventive and joyful pet photos this paw-liday season!
Lights, Camera, Fashion
Let your pet find their inner diva with the perfect holiday outfit! There are tons of fun holiday pet costumes out there that’ll surely make a statement in your holiday photographs.
For the hip pet, the Pet Life LED Lighting Holiday Snowman Hooded Dog Sweater will definitely scream, “I liked holiday sweaters before they were cool.”
If your pet is more of a high-fashion model who might attract the paw-parazzi with their holiday pet photos, Zack & Zoey have both a bedazzled Santa suit and a darling holiday dress. If you are of the same mind as Topher Brophy (@topherbrophy) and Rosenberg (@rosenbergthedog) and believe that matching outfits are essential for all family photos, check out the Blueberry Pet Christmas Themed Dog Sweater with its matching people-size sweater.
If you are celebrating the eight days of Hanukkah, and blue really brings out the color of your munchkin’s eyes, the Tail Trends Dreidel Dog Bandana or the Aria Blue Ribbon Bone Dog Bandana will make those peepers glisten!
Don’t fret if your pet is not as fashion forward as you had hoped! When it comes to pet photography, the comfort of your fur baby is paramount, so don’t be too concerned over a fashion faux-paw! For the pet that doesn’t want to get all gussied up for their close-up, you can always choose a fetching holiday collar or bandana.
If you are familiar with Chantal Adair’s work, you know she loves a good costume, and she has some helpful tips for getting your pet dressed for their photo shoot. Adair recommends letting your dog expend some energy prior to getting them dressed. Whether it is taking them for a walk or letting them run around the house, it’s important that they are relaxed. When they have settled down, Adair then begins the dressing process.
“For costumes, I like to let the dog sniff them first,” she says. “Then I will slowly and calmly start to dress them while reassuring them and telling them what a good dog they are. Dogs can read your energy, so it is best to stay calm and reassuring when attempting to get them dressed up.”
She also says that if your fur friend is just not into it, don’t force it. You want your pet to look jazzed and happy in their pet pictures, not stressed out. At the end of the day, these holiday pet photos are meant to spread cheer, so make sure your pet is feeling that joyful spirit as much as you are—no matter what they end up modeling.
Finding a Good Location
Finding the perfect location for your holiday pet pictures is just as important as deciding on the right outfit. Adair says that if you are taking the dog photos or cat photos inside, then you can either create your own holiday scene, or you can purchase a backdrop online. Your photos don’t need to be holiday-oriented—have some fun with it and get creative. Adair suggests creating a winter wonderland as a background and having your pet dress up in a puffy plaid coat and making it look like they are building a snowman or going for a cross-country skiing adventure!
For those who are not artistically inclined, Adair has a pretty ingenious idea: “Don’t hesitate to take advantage of the holiday decorations or Christmas trees you find around your city or neighborhood. They make for great backdrops for holiday photos.”
So, if the opportunity comes along to take holiday pet pictures at the local Christmas market or in front of a well-decorated storefront, don’t be bashful! Get your phone or camera out and make the most of those decorations! Adair does advise that some of the best natural light for pet photography is between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. because “There will be minimal shadows, and it will be nice and bright.”
How to Get the Purrfect Shot
All pets have a su-paw-model inside them—it’s just about finding their perfect angle! Although model-worthy pet poses are not exactly second-nature for many of our four-legged companions, Adair has tips for how to get that perfect picture.
For cat photos, you can try using bells or the Cat Dancer Cat Charmer Toy, which is sure to catch your kitty’s eye. They key is to find something that gets their attention without triggering playtime mode.
For dog photos, many people might think that dog treats are the best way to get your pup to strike a pose.
But according to Adair, “I don’t really recommend using treats as incentives because it gets the dogs too excited and makes it harder for them to sit still.”
The best way to find out what works is to experiment with various dog toys and sounds. Adair elaborates by saying, “Most dogs will need some sort of incentive to pose and look at the camera, but every dog is different, so make sure to have backup toys and noisemakers available to try. You may even find that making the noises yourself is enough to get them engaged.”
Adair says that squeaker toys work well, but what she finds to be the most effective toys are the ones that make crinkling sounds; they catch the dog’s attention without getting them too excited. A good toy to try would be the ZippyPaws Spencer the Crinkle Monkey Squeaky Plush Dog Toy, which both squeaks and crinkles so you can try it all!
Patience is Key
Pet photography is meant to be fun. It is important to be patient and understand that your pet doesn’t know what your intentions are, so you have to work with them to get that million-dollar shot.
Adair adds, “It is important to also take breaks when photographing pets. It allows them to expend some energy and refocus so that they don’t get frustrated.”
When it comes to taking photos, your pet may have an attention span similar to that of small child, which means patience is key, and frequent breaks are essential.
Keep in mind that, “Sometimes it might just not work. That’s okay. You can always try again in a different environment. The comfort of the pet is the most important thing.”
Don’t get discouraged if your fur baby isn’t the next Meowmi Campbell or Pawl Newman, holiday pet pictures are meant to be fun expressions of our love for our furever companions that bring joy to our friends and family! Have fun with it and let your pet feel the love this holiday season!
Kendall Curley, Pet Central Editorial Assistant
As a former Connecticut resident, Kendall is coming to terms with the lack of seasons in Florida by gaining an appreciation for all the activities that the Florida climate allows year-round. When she is not hard at work at Chewy, she can be found going on adventures with her dog, Pip, or going horseback riding with her friends. She is an avid fosterer of dogs and spends an inordinate amount of time picking dog hair off of her clothes and belongings.