Christmas family photos are a fun affair, allowing you and your loved ones to get dressed up and take warm, goofy photos together. But your family photos are made even better when you include your family’s pet(s).
Just think of it: You and your spouse and kids, wearing the ugliest Christmas sweaters you could find, all while your dog is dressed up as Santa Claus and your cats as Santa’s elves. That’s a Christmas card you’ll want to send to everyone you know.
But how do you take the best pet Christmas card photos? From keeping them entertained between photos with dog chews from Best Bully Sticks to making sure they’re as calm as can be, here’s how you can keep your pet entertained and get the best Christmas card photos.
1. Get your dog tired, first
A great way to start off your photoshoot is to get your dog tired before you begin. Take them out for a long walk or a quick jog. Play for a bit once you get to your destination. Bring along their favorite toy and let them have their fun.
It may not sound like much, but it’s enough to ensure they get out the majority of their energy before you begin taking photos. They’ll be more likely to focus on whoever is taking photos and may not be as compelled to put their paws up on your clean outfits.
2. Consider your backdrop
When taking photos, you have to consider your background as much as your foreground. While your family may look great, the photo won’t look as compelling if your backdrop doesn’t fit the overall aesthetic.
This means a snowy cottage will make for a better backdrop than a congested highway. Try to find a setting that is suitable for your photoshoot. Natural backgrounds tend to work best, as they allow for simplicity or variety that allows people to remain as the main focus.
Also consider color contrasts compared to what you’re wearing. Kooky, green Christmas sweaters won’t look as compelling against a background of Douglas Fir trees. However, they’ll certainly stand out against a snowy backdrop.
3. Dress for the holiday cheer
Chances are you and your family are getting dressed up for your Christmas card photo. Your dog should be able to join in on the fun. Get them a holiday outfit that will melt almost anyone’s heart.
It could be their own ugly sweater, reindeer antlers, a Santa costume, or a Little Drummer Boy costume. Whatever you choose, it will help them get in the Christmas cheer and truly round out your Christmas card photo.
4. Put treats to use
Chances are your dog is already treat-motivated. So bring along some natural dog treats to keep their attention throughout the shoot. They’ll be more likely to respond to your commands throughout the photoshoot. Best of all, they can help your dog calm down if they get riled up while trying to get photos.
5. Let your dog shine through
The best family photos come about when everyone acts naturally. So don’t try to limit your dog. Instead, let them act exactly as they are. For instance, you shouldn’t scold your dog if they’re not smiling nice enough.
Nor should you scold them if they’re sitting in a strange way. Instead, let them be exactly as they are. It’s a simple way to capture photos that feel real. Rather than trying to get your dog to fit into a box of what they should look like, they’re allowed to be who they are, as goofy and wild as that is.
6. Keep it simple
A lot of preparation could be overwhelming for your dog. How so? It’s more time adjusting and setting up, which could lead to you losing their attention. Moreover, it could lead to them getting frustrated to a point of no return.
So take it easy with the set up. Try to use natural backdrops as much as possible. Use natural lighting to your advantage, too. If you require any additional lighting, bring a larger light that you can set up in no time. It will make setting up and breaking down easy, allowing for everyone involved to make the most of the photoshoot, all while reducing frustration and stress.
7. Editing helps, but it doesn’t fix
When taking photos, you need to understand that “fix it in post” is not a good approach. Every photo you take won’t be a winner, but you can only fix a photo so much in Photoshop and Lightroom. Instead, you should take the effort to try and get good photos from the start.
And if your dog is having trouble staying calm, causing every shot to be slightly blurry, take a time out. Take a break from the photoshoot. Give them antlers for dogs to calm them down and get their energy out while someone else runs and grabs coffee.
Once you get photos that work, you’ll still want to do some editing. While you may think it’s not necessary, editing can go a long way. It can help your photo pop in all the right ways. Minor adjustments to highlights, curves, and levels can truly get your photos to the place they need to be.
8. Be cute with your card
Among everything you do, you also need to make a good Christmas card. Besides getting the perfect photo, you also need to tie it all together with a solid tagline. And you don’t need to be a pro copywriter to write a funny line. Just come up with whatever feels right to you and your family. For instance, you could say something like:
- Happy Pawlidays!
- We Woof You a Merry Christmas
- Deck the Paws
It’s a simple way to bring even more levity to your Christmas card, giving another laugh and smile to the loved ones in your life. And after all, that’s what spreading the holiday cheer is all about.