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Family Christmas photo
© Vasyl Dolmatov |

Creative ways to include your pet in this year’s holiday cards

The holidays are coming up fast. Are you ready? Don’t wait until the last minute to snap the perfect Christmas card photo like you did last year. Tap or click here to learn how to design and print your Christmas cards. This year, take a fun or classy picture of the entire family — furry members included.

Our pets are part of the family, so it just makes sense to include them with this year’s holiday cards. Not sure how to make the family pet look good in this year’s photo? We’re here to help.

We love our pets, so we have a few tried-and-true methods to get your pets to participate this holiday season. Check out these eight ways to include your pet in this year’s family holiday cards.

1. Get dressed up

The entire family can get all dressed up, including your pet. If you have a cooperative pet, nothing makes for a more adorable holiday card than a pup with a bowtie or a kitty in a sweater.

Find seasonal costumes like a turkey outfit or snowman for fun picture ideas. You can also try to illustrate your pet’s unique personality traits with accessories like a little halo, devil horns or a sign around its neck that shares a funny anecdote.

For fun but slightly less silly photos, try a theme. Dress your pet like a sheep for a family nativity scene, or add a Santa hat and beard for your North Pole picture. No matter how you dress up your pet, always ensure they’re willing participants. Your pet should be comfortable and safe in the outfits you choose.

Looking for pro photography shots or inspiration, tips and advice to drive your own photography goals? Check out Dreamstime for all the pro images and inspiration you need.

2. Family portraits

Take to the internet to look up silly poses, or have everyone face the same direction while keeping a hand on the shoulder of the person beside them. Fido can have a paw on someone’s shoulder to complete the look.

Have fun with classic portrait styles, or include an amusing backdrop. Wear matching ugly sweaters or the same hats. You can even wear pet ears to match your dog or cat’s natural look.

3. Everyone knows who the favorite is

For a fun family holiday card photo, make your pet the star. Set them apart from the rest of your family to reveal your pet is, and always will be, center stage.

Dress the kids in muted colors while the parents and pet wear something bright. For a funny take, try holding your pet while the rest of the family is in the background or slightly blurring everyone but you and your pet.

4. Get the best shot

Don’t grab your camera and point down at little Fluffy. While this makes for an adorable photo, it isn’t quite right for a holiday card.

Get down and snap photos at your pet’s eye level. This will help capture their expressions and provide a new perspective that makes your furry, feathered, or scaled friend stand out. 

You can also capture more engaging and natural poses by squatting or sitting on the ground. Have the entire family sit on the floor in front of the fireplace or Christmas tree for this shot.

5. Be natural

You don’t need to take pictures of your pets at a professional studio or behind closed doors. Grab its leash and take it outside. 

Snap photos with holiday lights and decorations in the background. If the weather isn’t cooperating, try a shallow depth of field (low f/stop) to blur the background. This makes your pet stand out without losing the outdoor feel.

6. Reveal their personality

Is your pet active? Snap a shot of them chasing a favorite toy. Do they like to cuddle? Take a picture of your pet with its favorite blanket or snuggled next to you. Tap or click here for the best phone tripods for amazing photos.

Show Goldie playing hide-and-seek in its aquarium if that’s her favorite pastime, or capture an image of your cat playing with a catnip mouse. 

The best photos reveal your pets’ endearing traits. That’s what makes them so special, so highlight your animals doing their favorite things in this year’s holiday card.

7. Try something new

You probably have tons of pet pictures saved to your phone and on your high-end camera, but it’s time to mix things up. 

Consider snapping photos at different angles to reveal something new about your pet. You’ll never know if Thumper’s cute little bunny profile is better on the right or left if you don’t try both. 

Add an artistic flair by shooting your pet from below, or try your hand with wide-angle and specialty lenses like a fisheye to accentuate that cute little guy you love so much.

Creativity is vital when looking for the best side of your best friend. Have fun and don’t forget to include a few toys or comfort objects in some of your photos.

8. Keep their attention

Getting an animal to look at the camera isn’t easy, but you’re in luck. We’ve got all the right strategies to get Rex to look your way.

First, try using food. Place their favorite treat above your camera lens. Get creative and toss their favorite treat toward them while snapping photos. You can capture your pet jumping midair, or you might snap a shot of them catching (or completely missing) the treat. 

Give your cat some catnip before the shoot, then place them on a cute little holiday-themed rug. Take several pictures of them rolling around, looking adorable.

If your dog loves their squeaky toy, give it a quick squeeze to grab his attention. You can also make an unexpected noise, like jingling your keys or loudly clapping in the direction you want them to look.

Everyone loves it when they get a holiday card featuring the people they love. But we all love it more when you include the family pets. Use these techniques to capture the perfect holiday card photos this year. Good luck and happy snapping!

You may also like: 5 photo apps that make your pics better without any Photoshop skills

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