7 Tips For The Perfect Holiday Pet Portrait

2 girls playing with their dog at Christmas

As the holiday season draws closer, a lot of us will be spending time with our furry little friends indoors. And there is no better way to preserve these precious moments with our pets than capturing them in photos.

However, taking pristine portraits of your pet can be a hassle. This is because there are many things to consider when planning for the perfect holiday pet portrait. Proper dressing, good background lighting, getting your pets to do the right pose - we could go on and on about the problems you might encounter when trying to get this done.

One thing to note is that you don't need to be a world-class photographer to take decent portraits. All you need to create the best pet portrait you've ever laid your eyes on are actionable tips and tricks. Below, we will discuss these tips in detail. So stick around!

good boy dog getting pets

Prepare Your Pets

First things first, you will need to help your pets get ready for their portraits. You can do this by making them feel comfortable. Comfort is essential as it helps your pet channel its inner models. There are various ways to make your pet feel comfortable. 

You can start by taking them out for a little stroll. They will be less impatient after you do this, mainly because you've helped them burn off excess energy. Secondly, pre-photoshoot, Groom, and pamper your pets a little. This helps them look their best. We recommend bathing them or visiting a groomer two days before your shoot. Why two days? Well, two days is the optimal time to let your pet's hair settle after a wash.

It is also advisable to have a plan in place for grabbing and holding your pet's attention during the shoot. Use snacks, squeaky toys, baby voices, or other slightly absurd strategies to help keep your animal friend's attention on the camera. We will talk more about these strategies later.

messy dogs

Avoid Distracting Backgrounds

A distracting background can more or less ruin your photo. The focus should be on your pet and not unnecessary details in the background. This is why it is very important to have your photoshoot in a simple location, free from unfamiliar people, objects, and other pets.

A good example would be a plain colored wall. But this guide is for holiday-themed portraits. So let's say, a Christmas-themed portrait. A little bit of distraction, in the form of props, is allowed. Ideally, your pet will have to pose in front of a Christmas tree and lights. 

To avoid the Christmas lights taking all of your pet's shine, incorporate bokeh into your photo. Bokeh is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in out-of-focus parts of an image. By adding bokeh to your photo, you can separate your pet from the backdrop, in this case, the Christmas lights. This often results in a gorgeous Christmas-themed portrait. 

Besides taking the focus away from your pets, distractions also cause your pets to lose focus when taking the photo. They get excited and won't stay put, in turn, causing blurry and unappealing photos.

dog getting a christmas treat

Pet Motivation

One major problem encountered when taking pet photos is getting your pet to stay still. There are several ways to bypass this problem. If you have a dog, you can try practicing your dog's sit and stay still skills beforehand. So when the time comes, you can give them the command, take the photo, and reward them.

Speaking of rewards, treats are a great way to motivate your pets to stay still during a photo shoot. Have plenty of yummy treats ready, as well as your pet's favorite toys in hand before the photo session. Toys and treats can be used to guide your pet's gaze and help catch their attention.

To ensure that your treats work, try and hold your photoshoot before a meal. This is because your pet is more likely to respond to your calls if they are hungry.

dogs taking selfie angle

Take a lot of photos and Try Different Angles

You can capture awesome and unique photos by combining multiple perspectives and lenses. Asides from spicing things up, angles and perspectives can help improve the composition of holiday portraits. 

Also, try attempting a shot from a higher vantage point or get on all fours and see the world from your pet's perspective. This will make whoever views the photo feel more involved in the photo. It also produces a more distinct background and foreground.

Taking multiple snapshots allows you to experiment with different angles, lighting, postures, and costumes if need be. You will also have a lot of pictures to choose from, which helps weed out photo defects and prop mistakes.dog pet family photo

Include Family Members

Seeing familiar faces will make your pet feel more comfortable. Also, nothing is cuter than a pet engaging with its owners. Love and compassion are required to create a genuine festive spirit. So we recommend you include other members of your family in your Christmas pet photos for added warmth.

christmas dog laying on blanket

Keep Your Pet's Relaxed With Pet Handling Techniques

Stress is visible in photos. This is why it is important to have your pets relaxed during your photo session. One way to reduce stress in photos is to avoid flashes and clicking noises from your camera. This can scare your pets and cause them to feel stress.

Also, use common pet handling techniques to help calm your pet and get them to loosen up. Other ways to keep your pets relaxed during a photo session include:

  • Taking photos in a familiar environment.
  • Using a blanket or pillow.
  • Talking to them in a soothing voice. 

Dog in christmas outfit

Try Outfits

Accessories can help your pet's innate charm shine through. For instance, String lights can be used to highlight your kitty's beautiful eyes, and reindeer ears on dogs are super cute!

You can also encircle your cats in a garland wreath to give them the prominence they deserve or make them wear Christmas jumpers or sweaters in front of the snowman. Be unique and have fun with whichever outfit you choose. Also, don't forget to make it simple and avoid distractions. The fewer distracting things you use, the better your pets will be able to focus and rest.



Although pet photography is not the easiest thing to do, the rewards we gain from working with our pets far outweigh the cons. And during the holiday season, there are tons of opportunities to hang out with your pets and take some incredible photos. These photos will help preserve these memories forever. We hope these tips help you capture the perfect holiday photos! Happy Holidays in advance.

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