Photograph Your Dog for the Holidays

How would you characterize your dog during the holidays? A star? An angel? Santa’s little helper? Or maybe just a “manger” mutt? Whatever your image, the holiday season presents wonderful opportunities to photograph or make videos of your dog. And you’re not just capturing the moment for yourself. You can use photographs of your four-legged friends to personalize greeting cards, create fun calendars, and even make your own tree decorations. Here are just a few tips to help you capture those magical moments with a true holiday glow.


Know Your Camera

To be quick on the flash, you must be very comfortable with your camera and understand all the features it offers. Many camera stores offer free classes to first time buyers–this is a great way to learn about some of the basic features and even some advanced functions that can make your shots look focused, framed, and professional.

Capture the Moment

When it comes to still photography, composition is the key. Always get as close as possible to your dog. You can use toys or treats to get your pal’s attention. Hold treats next to the camera lens, just out of range of your viewfinder. Mesmerized by the biscuit, your dog will appear to be giving you his undivided attention in the footage.

To make shots visually interesting, avoid snapping your pooch in the center of the frame. Be prepared to get on the same level as your dog’s face to capture your pal’s candid expressions, even if this means lying down on the ground. And make sure the background contrasts with the color of your dog’s fur. You might even want to have an assistant on hand to keep your dog groomed and looking his best.


When working with pets—whether you’re shooting a photograph or making a video—natural light is best. If you do need to use a flash, try angling it away from your dog so that the light isn’t too harsh and doesn’t spoil your work.

There are a few ways to take care of “red-eye” in photos: most cameras have a “red-eye” flash that helps prevent the effect in both human and doggy eyes, photography stores sell pens that you can use to touch up eyes on your prints, or, if you are working with a digital camera or video, you can fix this problem on your computer with the help of photo software.


To create a professional-quality video of your pet, you must be comfortable following your pal with your lens as he romps around. Try to avoid endless footage of empty grass or the sky or your pal’s rear end. Once again, some practice runs will ensure that you don’t miss that perfect shot when you’re filming your canine in action.

To prepare yourself to film your dog, study television advertisements that feature pets. For example, take your favorite TV dog food commercial and count the number of different shots that make up the entire production. To make your footage professional, follow suit and switch angles often. Don’t film from one angle for longer than ten seconds.

When you zoom in, count to five and do the same count when you zoom out. Once again, make sure you are at eye level with your dog to capture the action from his point of view. The days of silent movies are over—learn to talk while you film and include people in your shots too. Never skimp by buying cheap videotapes. Use only the best if you want to preserve your pup for posterity!

Holiday Cards and Ornaments

These days, it’s pretty simple to create your own holiday cards, calendars, or stationery using computer software. You can exercise your creativity and share fun pictures of your pet with family and friends by developing your own line of canine communications. Most craft stores will have everything you need to make decorative objects. Look for items like small wooden photo frames that you can paint in festive colors and hang on your tree.

For an original holiday tree decoration, take several photographs of your dog, print them on paper, and glue them over a glass or polystyrene ball to create a montage effect. Spray with a clear lacquer and sprinkle a little glitter. Holiday prints of your dog can also be pegged to colorful string and hung across a doorway. Glue prints back to back so that they look good from both directions.

Grab Every Opportunity

While the holiday season is a great time to create photo memories, every event in your dog’s life is worth capturing on film: visits to the dog park, birthdays, the first time he got into the garbage, and his obedience class graduation. Of course, you can also create photo opportunities when the two of you are just out for a stroll. After all, there’s nothing quite like spending a quiet evening at home with your pal nuzzled up beside you watching home movies or paging through an album reminiscing about those magic moments.

Don’t forget to post your best photo in the Doggie Galleria on Dog Central!

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