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What You’ll Need:
- A Camera or iPhone
- Treats for your dog or cat
- Festive attire (for you and your pet)
- A Tripod (optional)
- A Bluetooth remote (optional)
- Ring Light (optional)
- A Pet Toy Phone Accessory, like the Pooch Selfie attachment (optional)
How to Take Holiday Pet Photos: Step By Step
1 Choose Your Location
Find a photogenic spot that comfortably fits your family. Popular spots include:
- Beside the fireplace
- On the couch
- Next to the Christmas tree
- In your backyard
Solid color walls can make great backdrops, as can brick walls. You can even hang a bedsheet—but make sure it’s nicely pressed, without wrinkles.
You’ll want to make sure your location has good lighting, too. Pets don’t like flashes, so avoid using one for your photo.
Natural light tends to photograph best, and the light source should be in front of you. If you’re inside, open all the windows to let in plenty of light and then face the windows. Posing with your back against a window can create a silhouette effect that casts you and your pet in harsh shadows.
If you’re outside, find a spot with some shade so the sun’s not in anyone’s eyes.
2 Choose Your Wardrobe
Your style options are endless: If you’re going for chic Christmas photos with your dog, get everyone dressed to the nines and put your pet in an adorable bow tie. Aiming for an “ugly holiday sweater” vibe? We’ve got you covered.
But remember: Dressing up might not be as fun for your pet as it is for you. If your dog or cat isn’t accustomed to wearing clothing, practice with them in advance. Rewarding them with treats and praise can help them get comfortable. But be sensitive to their feelings—if your pet shows signs of stress, don’t push it. Instead, opt for a festive collar or bandana, or simply let your pet’s personality shine all on its own.
3 Strike a Pose
Arranging multiple family members for your photo? Use the "V" method. Line everyone up with the tallest people on the ends and shortest in the middle, so that the tops of your heads make a V shape.
For cats and small dog breeds, you may want a family member to pose holding them. That’ll prevent them from wandering off.
4 Call Attention to the Camera
For many pet parents, the biggest challenge of taking Christmas pictures with dogs or cats is getting them to look at the camera. There are a couple different tactics to try, Samuels says.
One is to ask a friend to take your photo. If your pet already knows and likes this person, even better—they’re more likely to look up when your friend calls their name.
You can also give your volunteer photographer one of your pet’s favorite toys to hold near the lens. Once your pet locks eyes on that toy, it’ll appear that they’re looking directly at the camera.
Taking photos on your own? A dog selfie stick smartphone attachment can help grab their attention. The Pooch Selfie attachment, for example, looks like a tennis ball toy—and it even squeaks when you squeeze it.
5 Break Out the Treats
One of the biggest hurdles of photo-taking with pets is getting them to sit still. Practicing your dog’s sit and stay skills in advance can help. (Get a refresher course here and here.) When it’s time to take the photo, give your dog the command, snap the photo, then reward them with a treat.
Hey, what about us cat parents? Your cat might not sit on command, but you can still use treats to encourage them to chill on your lap or in your arms.
6Remember to Have Fun!
How to Share Your Holiday Pet Photos
Now it’s time to share your photo on social media or, if you’re going old-school, create some printed pet holiday cards. (You can upload your favorite pic to a site like Minted that’ll allow you to design your own 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
- Pup on the Housetop
- Deck the Paws
- The Furriest Noel
- Barkin’ Around the Christmas Tree
- Happy Paw-lidays!
- Jingle Paws
Want to do more with your holiday pics? There are so many ways to turn your photos into lasting mementos, including:
- Display your photo inside a pet-themed frame.
- Add the photo to a mug, so you can enjoy your coffee with a side of memories each morning.
- Put your pic on a snuggly blanket to warm your body and soul all winter long.
- Turn your photo into a piece of canvas wall art and admire your expert photography skills throughout the year.