Love it or hate it, the annual Christmas portrait is a tradition for many families, and with the holiday season just about six months away, it is not too early to begin thinking about this year’s theme. For families with pets, it is not uncommon to see their four-legged family members making an appearance in these portraits. We have invited plenty of pets into our studio at Michael Broyles Photography for Christmas photo sessions. This year, whether you are taking the photo yourself or sitting for a formal portrait session, consider including your family’s fur baby in the fun. Here are some tips for making the experience enjoyable for all.


Pick a Familiar Location

While you may be dreaming of a winter wonderland scene, or just a scenic backdrop in general, your pet may not be as enthusiastic about your choice of location. Animals are creatures of habit and prefer the comforts of a routine. Break that routine and your pet may react by acting out or becoming overly anxious. Sticking close to home or choosing a location that your pet enjoys visiting often, with familiar sights and smells, will help put your pet at ease and make him or her more likely to obey your commands.


Choose Appropriate Attire

Planning your outfits in advance is a good piece of advice for any photo shoot, and it’s especially important when you include your pet. Pick out clothing that is festive, yet comfortable since you may find yourself in a variety of positions, including down on the ground, to accommodate your pet. If your photo shoot is outside, you may want to choose an outfit that you do not mind getting dirty. If your family is going for a coordinated look, pick out an accessory for your pet, like a collar, bow, or hat, that meshes well with the predominate color or pattern. Or go all out and dress your pet up in costume for the season – reindeer antlers, a Santa hat, an ugly Christmas sweater, or even a pair of pajamas. You could even place a wreath on your pet or string them up in lights. Above all else – know your pet. If they don’t like playing dress up, let them go au naturale.


Get Camera Ready

Patience is key when it comes to doing anything with your pet and photo shoots are no exception. Animals can easily pick up on your excitement and energy, or become overly anxious due to all the extra activity going on around them. Before you arrive at the shoot, take the time to walk your pet or play with a chew toy, ball, or catnip. Tiring out your pet will make them calmer, more relaxed, and more agreeable to posing and listening to commands from you and the photographer.


Of course, pets can be unpredictable and easily distracted. To hold their attention throughout the photo shoot, keep some treats or a favorite toy nearby. If you are using a tripod, enlist someone to help pose your pet and keep them engaged while the camera is taking shots. Take breaks, as needed, to let your pet burn off some excess energy. And be sure to praise and reward your pet throughout the shoot. Remember, this should be a pleasant, joyful experience for them as well as you and your family.


Take a Variety of Photos

Think outside the box when including your pet in your Christmas portrait. Animal lovers know that pets are great subjects for candid shots, and that sometimes the best photos are those that are completely unplanned. Be sure to keep an eye out and your camera ready for unique, unexpected moments throughout the shoot. Or try a close-up photo of your pet and family snuggling together. This type of shot works especially well with small dogs and cats. Have a larger pet? Get down on their level for a photo or two. This can go a long way to make them feel more at ease. And for those lucky enough to experience an early season snowfall, capture an action shot of your pup (and kids) running through the snow.


This July, get a head start on your Christmas holiday prep by booking a photo shoot with Michael Broyles Photography. Why, you may ask? Every portrait session package booked this month includes a set of 25 Christmas cards! Call Michael Broyles Photography today for more details and to schedule a consultation.