Get Ready For Holiday Pictures

It’s the holidays and everyone is feeling all cozy, warm and light. The tree is aglow, candles are flickering, and glittering reindeer, snowmen and lights adorn front lawns across the country. Don’t let all this magic go to waste—it’s an optimal time to snag the perfect photo of your pet.

Pet photography has been on the rise for several years now. We go through the cycle of school pictures and family portraits for our children, so why not our furry kids, too? Just like any other photo shoot, many pet owners are willing to pay a premium for a flawless pic of their fur ball. While going the professional route is a great idea if you’re seeking perfection, you can also take a darn good pic on your own.

If you’re a klutz with the camera, pay attention. We spoke with expert animal photographer Kira Stackhouse to get her tips for amateurs. Stackhouse, who is based in Oakland, has been photographing pets for more than a decade now. She’s photographed hundreds of families (heck, she even does animal parties!) and her work has been featured in numerous publications.

“Pets are being recognized as true members of people’s families,” Stackhouse said. “People treat their dogs like children. Animals are their kids.”

Yes, they are! So, here’s how to take [better] photos of your little rascals.

Get Down At The Animal’s Eye Level

Standing up and pointing your camera down result in a funky angle. Plus, you’re not able to connect with your pet; you’re not viewing them as they are.

“Don’t try to take a photo standing up. Shoot at the pets at their level. It completely changes the vibe of the photo and gives it a far more realistic perspective,” Stackhouse suggested.


Match Camera Position To Pet Position 

Give the composition of your picture some thought. Turn your camera to match the position of your pet. “For example, if the animal is sitting up, facing you, and you’re shooting with your iPhone, I’d turn the phone so that it’s vertical.”

Another example: if you’re pooch is laying down in front of your Christmas tree, a horizontal shot may suit the scene better. You can either step back and capture the dog lying horizontally, with more of the tree in view, or get a tighter shot.

“Think about what your focus is, and try to turn your camera to match that,” Stackhouse said.

Go With The Flow

Stackhouse shoots as many pictures as she can, knowing that she’ll wind up with several great shots. She also knows that being flexible is key. Many clients start their photo shoot with a specific setup in mind—the dog needs to sit there, the kids there, the background just so—but that’s not necessarily how these things work. Most animals like to move. It’s okay to move with them and run with where the photo shoot takes you.

“I am for magazine quality,” she said. “I do a lot of lifestyle shoots. It helps you capture the personality of the pet.”

Dial Down Distractions

Taking pictures of animals is a lot like taking pictures of “real” kids. It’s tough to get them to focus. Stackhouse uses everything from hand-held squeakers to bells wrapped around her ankle to get pets to look in the right direction and pay attention.

“I lie there on the floor and squeak with one hand, or shake my ankle to get the bells going. I’m like a one-man band.”

Stackhouse’s final tip is one we’ve all turned to before. “When all else fails, pull out the treats”



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