Our Tips and Tricks for Pet Friendly Photography!

It’s a Monday Rewind! Yellow Brick Home has over 12 years of archives, so from time to time, we’ll be sharing our favorites from posts past. This tutorial was originally published in November 2017 and has been updated with a few recent photos. It will be especially relevant if you saw Kim’s post last week about how to make your holiday cards the easiest task of the season. Enjoy!

How many of you are happier sharing photos of your pets rather than yourself? I can’t tell you how many adorable cards we receive from friends and family that prominently feature photos of anything but themselves – pets and children immediately come to mind! If that’s you, too, today’s photography post is for you.

faux fur

Jack and CC (and more recently, Catfish!) were no strangers to the camera, but despite the endless social sharing of our duo, it does take a fair amount of trickery behind the scenes to capture the perfect photo. So while you’re probably getting ready to design your best holiday card yet (of your faithful furry friend, no doubt), I’m here to share my top tips and tricks to help you get the shot of our sometimes uncooperative – yet extremely adorable! – models.

Prepare for the photo session before the first click of the camera.

When I was still accepting custom pet painting orders, every now and then I’d receive images from clients who would have a difficult time catching a good photo. My biggest tip to them, always, was to try again after a long walk. 

A relaxed pet tends to produce the best photos, as there’s less chance for excitable movement, which can result in blurry images. Before you start snapping away, take your pet around the block, have a play session with their favorite toy or take them on your morning run. A tired pup is a happy pup!

Scott walks CC and Jack during a particularly beautiful 'golden hour' in Michigan

Set the scene

This early in the season, it’s unlikely that you’ve already thrown up the holiday decor (or have you?!). But! You can still create a festive backdrop with colors and scenery. Think: green grass, a red front door, twinkling streetlights or a local tree farm. If you’re still stumped, simple and neutral is always a safe bet and will allow you to have more freedom to choose a colorful, festive holiday card template. Below, Miss Chunk poses in front of a firehouse! Tip: If you’re hoping for something more seasonal, try taping a roll of gift paper to an empty wall. 

CC in front of a red fire house door to evoke holiday vibes before decorations were hung

Have their best friend nearby – with treats

Who is the one person in the family that will always bring a smile to your pet’s face? Whether that person is the one behind the camera or just next to the camera, you will want that person nearby. Not only will having the extra hands during your photo shoot be a sanity saver, but they can swoop in to soothe an anxious pet.

Jack shakes hands with Scott in front of a colorful background

Ditch the flash

When it comes to taking photos of pets, natural lighting is always a good idea to prevent red eye, squints or cause for alarm. Set up a tripod in the brightest room in your home, or better yet, bring the photo session outdoors! I especially enjoy taking out the camera during the golden hour, the magical time right before the sun goes down and the whole world feels aglow.

Jack in front of the setting sun for a beautiful glowing effect!
CC with a background of beautiful fall foliage

Make a funny noise

It’s best to avoid calling your pet’s name to grab their attention, as it may have them lunging towards you instead! Our dogs respond best to funny noises, like a high-pitched squeal or soft whistle. They might be wondering if you’re okay, but often times, their expression in return can be the very best kind.

Jack licking his lips when tempted by a delicious treat.
Catfish is the hardest napping dog we know.
curtains + rod | ceiling light | duvet cover | clock

Get up close and personal.

Kneel down for this one! Getting down on their level will give your pets a larger than life personality in a way that shooting from above never will. For small pet owners, you can always perch your pet on a tabletop, staircase or windowsill to shoot at their level. Tip: For pets that love to be cuddled, have their special person cradle them in a hug.

Libby gave the best cuddles!

Bring in a prop

What brings your pet comfort? Our dogs love laundry day, if only because it means they may have the chance to snuggle with a freshly laundered, warm blanket. I tossed this blanket (our fave faux fur throw) in the dryer and wrapped it over CC’s shoulders… and not surprisingly, she froze in place. That smile says it all! If your pet enjoys a good dress-up session, lucky you!

When in doubt, bring out the peanut butter.

(Or any special treat!) We’ll be the first to admit that we’ve used peanut butter to our full advantage when trying to achieve a specific idea. Last year, we wrapped a box in pretty paper and added a dollop of peanut butter inside. For a blissful five minutes, we were able to take as many photos as we wanted! Tip: For bonus points, a dab of peanut butter on the cheek of one will often lead to a kiss from the other. Give it a try.

In the end, whatever you do, don’t put the camera down. Be present and ready to click that shutter – a lot – because you never know when your pet might yawn, sneeze or lick their lips, making for a unique memorable moment. Most importantly, keep sessions as short as your pet’s patience, and always reward them for a job well done. What other tricks do you recommend?

Happy snapping!

PS… We purchased our first flocked Christmas tree last year, and we are so excited to be putting it up later this week. We’ve never, ever loved a tree as much as this one!

Also, here’s where you can find Jack and CC’s collars. We picked up the matte black bowls for Tree House, too, and they are so good.

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  • Laura Nuss11.20.17 - 7:41 AM

    OMG! So cute! We have an australian shepherd and a Bernese Mountain dog (we refer to her as Miley Cyrus circa 2015! Ha! Our last rescue was terrified of the camera so it’s fun to capture Chloe and Tanner!ReplyCancel

    • Kim11.20.17 - 8:27 AM

      Aw, my two favorites types of dogs! I grew up with Aussies (those shaggy pants they wear!) and have always loved the coloring of Berneses Mountain pups. I bet they’re a stunning duo.ReplyCancel

  • Erin11.21.17 - 8:27 AM

    So smart! We will definitely be employing peanut butter to encourage some serious making out!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica11.21.17 - 6:56 PM

    These are AWESOME tips! Definitely pinning this so I can remember these!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley- At Home with Ashley11.21.17 - 11:34 PM

    I love these tips! You truly get the best pictures of your pups! I am absolutely going to try the peanut butter on my Cavaliers- my Lucy dog is super food motivated. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Tia11.27.17 - 10:19 AM

    I have two cats and as much as I want a Christmas card with all of us, the idea of capturing us at the same time seems impossible…even with your wonderful tips. Because cats…lol.ReplyCancel

    • Kim11.27.17 - 10:29 AM

      Two dogs is one thing… two cats is another. :D Sometimes the best photos are in the chaos though!ReplyCancel

  • Marjory11.28.17 - 2:58 PM

    My guys are all obsessed with tennis balls, so if I hold one up in front of them, I get their undivided attention!ReplyCancel

  • Lindsey11.25.21 - 8:49 PM

    LOVED this! Great tips and just an all around adorable post. Thank you for re-sharing as I missed this one the first time!ReplyCancel


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