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How to Take Holiday Pet Photos Like a Pro

How to Take Holiday Pet Photos Like a Pro

Pet holiday photos

Holiday spirit is about family, love, food, and pictures.  Taking photographs of your family and loved ones during holiday is basically tradition.  If you have a furry baby in your family, you’re going to want to include them in your holiday photography too.  There is nothing cuter than seeing a picture of your pup in a funny holiday sweater, or that jester necklace that jingles as your kitty prowls the scene. 

The bottom line is your pets are like your children and best friends combined.  You love them and this is your chance to capture the best, most iconic, cutest, and timeless pet photography that can be enjoyed forever.

Using the Right Gear

There are many ways to take a clean, polished, and professional looking photo.  Although it’s not ideal, you can capture these photos with your smartphone.  However, it’s not recommended and if you have ever tried to achieve HD images of your dog with your smartphone, you will know it’s not so easy.  Between getting your pet to be perfectly still, and the detailed intricacies of your pet’s beautiful coat, you’re going to need a more capable camera if you want to perfectly capture those delicious expressions and features.

Using a DSLR or Mirrorless camera you will have all the power you need to get the take the best pictures of your animals.  These types of cameras have powerful sensors with fast processors that can produce high megapixel images.  Additionally, these cameras have powerful features that make professional photography seem easy, such as autofocus, auto exposure, and auto tracking.  Auto tracking has been designed to track the eyes and face of people, but also animals, making these features ideal for your puppy photoshoots.

You should also consider using a tripod for specific dog and cat photography.  This will provide extra stabilization and avoid any shake in your images.  Especially when factoring in how much your animals may be moving during the shoot.  Tripods work exceptionally well when you’re trying to capture your furry pet while “caught in the act”.

It’s Holiday season which means you will be looking for the perfect gifts for your loved ones.  This also is the best time to treat yourself to some new gear.  Whether you’re looking to upgrade your camera to a DLSR or mirrorless from great brands like Nikon, or perhaps you have had your eyes on a specific type of lens from Sigma or Tamron, treat yourself.  It’s the holidays and you deserve it.

Plandid or Candid

Holiday Pet Photos

Now that you’re ready for a dog photoshoot, it’s time to decide what kind of photos you want to take.  Every successful photoshoot consists of a solid plan of action, even when it may seem candid. 

There are many creative ways to photograph your pets.  From responding to commands within your envisioned composition (controlled environment), to locking in photos of your dog going crazy while running zoomies (outdoors), you will have a lot of potentially awesome material to work with.  That does not even include all the possibilities when you layer holiday themes on top of your ideas. 


Using props for your cat and dog photography will enhance your composition and create a more immersive polished and professional looking photograph.  It’s also holiday season so you shouldn’t have any shortage of props that can be used.  From outdoor lighting decorations and snow to Santa hats and funny sweaters, your pet will look so cute and adorably awkward. 

Photoshoot Ideas

Holiday photos of your loving pet can bring tremendous joy and heartwarming laughter.  There are so many ideas that are great, you should not limit yourself to only one or two.  Here are some simple photoshoot ideas to get you started.

Family Photos

  • Classic Holiday Photo – Of course you need to get some basic photos and is a great way to get warmed up and can help your pet become used to being on camera. This is important since some pets can be shy or even frightened of the camera in some cases.  For this type of cat and dog photography, you want a clean image with an organized composition.  Think of using your Christmas tree and wrapped gifts as props for the background.
  • Family Photo with Dog & Cat – Your pets are part of your family. Include them in your family photos for another classic and timeless photo.  Like any classic photo, position, posing, and framework will determine the quality of the shot.  This photoshoot can be outdoors in front of your well decorated home for a bright and colorful image, or you can go for a warmer toned environment like in front of the fireplace with decorative stockings, lights, and Christmas tree.  Feel free to do more than one idea.  Striving for a classic loving image and something more fun will broaden the amount of pleasure you will get from these photos.  Serious, then silly works great as you progress in your photoshoot.  Don’t be afraid to change wardrobes to something more fun like matching sweaters or Santa and elf hats.
  • Is your dog Santa? – There are many adorable pet outfits you can find online that are themed, like a red coat, hat, and Santa beard. Dress up your pet and take some photos of them delivering gifts in their Santa suits.
  • Opening presents – Nothing is funnier than watching your dog or cat curiously tearing into a package. Capturing them ripping their wrapped gifts open is one of the best holiday photoshoot ideas.
  • Zoomies – This one may be difficult to capture. You can’t really time when your pet will snap and start running around like a madman.  However, if you can catch it on camera, you will have one heck of a photo.  Especially if they’re in a holiday sweater or costume.
  • Holiday Cards – Turn any of your finely produced photos into a cute holiday card to share with your friends and wish them a happy holiday!


Getting your pet to corporate can be challenging.  Therefore, you must have treats available to motivate behavior and reward them.  There are some fun things you can do with treats as an incentive to do things like rip open their gifts by hiding treats inside.  There are convenient treat tools you can buy online that will hold the treat in a position so you can get the perfect pose for photographing pets, but its not necessary and you can be innovative on how you use your treats.  You know your pets better than anyone, even themselves.  You will know how to get them to cooperate.  The most important thing is to keep them happy with praise and encouragement.

Camera Settings

Can photographing your pet be tricky?  Yes, but with the right tools as mentioned earlier, you will easily be able to take amazing looking pictures that appear professionally done.  Some things to keep in mind when shooting your furry friends. 

  • Use your tracking features for any shot that involves action, such as opening presents or zoomies. This will ensure your camera keeps your pet in focus.  This is a great tool, but don’t be afraid of going manual if you feel confident in your ability to take full control over your camera.
  • Adjust your ISO and aperture to match with a fast shutter speed. You will want to use a fast shutter speed to keep every hair and detail of your pet within focus.  Slower shutter speeds can degrade the sharpness of your photo because animals has so many small details such as their furry coat, eyes, and facial expressions that move and shift with every breath.
  • Use a Tripod. It’s easy, convenient, and will lock your camera into position.  This is extremely helpful when working with pets because often you will need to leave your vantage point to adjust the pets pose, motivate, and to reward.  This way your camera stays in position even if you don’t.  Plus, the added stabilization will also enhance the quality of your image.

    pet holiday photos
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