While you might’ve enlisted a professional photographer or had photos taken with Santa any other year, you might find yourself left to your own devices this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. But don’t fret! Taking Christmas pictures with your dog, cat or other furry family member is totally doable. To set you up for success, we enlisted the help of Chewy’s Head of Photography, Kornell Samuels. With his pet photography tips and the right tools, you can take pics like a pro, too.
Gather Your Supplies and Set the Stage
Here’s the thing: According to Samuels, you really only need a few items to pull off a floof-filled photo shoot. If you’ve got a nice camera, that’s great, but otherwise you can take advantage of the camera on your smartphone. Note that you can use the selfie feature to visualize the shot, but the pictures will be higher quality when shooting standard. Once you have your camera, start to set the stage by considering the following:
Create a DIY Tripod
Set up a tripod to support your camera or phone. If you don’t want to buy one, a DIY tripod can be as simple as stacking a pile of books on a table or chair and then fashioning a little stand out of a plastic or paper cup. Samuels says to cut two notches on the side or bottom of the cup so that your smartphone can snuggly rest inside. So easy!
Use the timer feature to snap a photo of the whole gang or consider purchasing an inexpensive Bluetooth remote that’ll allow you to take dozens of pictures with ease.
Keep the Background Simple
You might be tempted to overthink this part of the process, but don’t stress over it! Look around your home or your backyard for a photogenic spot that will accommodate your family. That might be in front of the fireplace, on the couch, next to the Christmas tree or in the backyard.
Samuels suggests keeping it simple—your family is the star of the show, after all. “Nice solid color walls are always the best backdrops,” says Samuels. “Also consider shooting in front of a brick wall if your house has it. I've seen people use bed sheets too, however they [should be] nicely pressed without wrinkles.”
Be Careful With the Lighting
When choosing the perfect backdrop for your family Christmas pictures, be sure to take the lighting into account. Generally speaking, pets tend to not like flashes so avoid using one if you can.
“When taking family photos, it's always better if the light source is in front of you,” explains Samuels. “If you’re outside, then shoot under some shade so your family can open their eyes.” You don’t want anyone—person or pooch—squinting. “Opt for nice morning light when the sun is not too harsh or in the evening when the sun is going down,” Samuels adds.
If you’re shooting your pics inside, avoid posing in front of a window since this cause a silhouette effect and make the focus of the photo (your beautiful fam) too dark. Instead, prioritize a location where light is directly in front of you, and open up the windows in the room to let in as much natural light as possible. If you really want to snap a pic like a pro, you can score a flattering ring light for under $10. Just turn it on and clip it onto your phone to fully illuminate your subjects.
Look the Festive Part—Pets Included!
Time for wardrobe! What’s the vibe you’re going for? If you want photos that are chic and formal, dress up in holiday-party attire and outfit your pet in the Frisco Festive Dog & Cat Bowtie. Or, if you’re really feeling the Christmas spirit, perhaps have everyone don Santa hats or reindeer antlers. (You can snag a dog and cat Santa hat here and pet-sized reindeer antlers here.)
Master the Art of Getting Your Pets to Sit Still
The biggest hurdle when taking Christmas pictures with dogs or cats is getting your pet to go with the festive flow. Samuels’s best piece of advice? Treats. If they’re familiar with being told to “sit” (if not, learn how to teach them here), give them the command before the camera snaps and reward with a tasty morsel. Treats are also useful in luring independent kitties over to where the action is.
It also helps if you have something near the camera that will capture your pet’s attention, prompting them to look directly at the lens. This Dog Selfie Stick Smartphone Attachment allows you to clip a squealing tennis ball right above your lens to help get your pup’s attention.
If your dog is small enough, you could pose with a family member holding them. The same goes for cats. These sometimes-aloof floofs are way more apt to wander away, so if they’re comfortable being held for a photo, cuddle away.
Speaking of posing, Samuels says, “Arranging your family for a photo is easiest when you use the ‘V’ method—tallest on the ends and shortest in the middle.”
Have the arrangement decided before you bring in your pets and try to make the process as quick as possible. Plan for about five to 10 minutes and pay attention to your pets’ behavior. If they seem to be getting antsy, take a break.
“Remember to have fun,” encourages Samuels. Turn on some festive Christmas music to set the mood, tell some jokes to generate real laughter among the humans and plan for something fun to do afterward as a nice reward, like walk outside or some extra playtime, perhaps.
Create Cute Christmas Cards and Frame Your ImageThe fruits of all your effort will culminate in the cutest picture ever taken to date—better show them off! Share the pictures on social media and showcase them on a Christmas card to send to family and friends. (You can upload your favorite pic to a site like Minted that’ll allow you design your own cards.)
You can even add a holiday-themed pet pun to your card or social media caption. Need some ideas?
- We Woof You a Merry Christmas
- We Wish You a Meowy Christmas
- Meowy & Bright
- Pup on the Housetop
- Deck the Paws
- The Furriest Noel
- Barkin’ Around the Christmas Tree
- Happy Paw-lidays!
- Jingle Paws
We recommend framing your favorite photo, too. You can add custom text, like the year or your pet’s name, to the Frisco Personalized Plaid Gallery-Wrapped Canvas. You can also turn your photo into a Christmas ornament with the Frisco Personalized Holly Leaves Paw Shape Metal Ornament. Now, you can “aww” over it for years to come!