How To Take A Meaningful Family Portrait (Including Your Pets)

Pets are usually considered regular family members since we love them and take care of them as if they were kids. Our pets share special moments with us and we even celebrate their birthdays.  Because of all these things, we should photograph our pets and make them an important part of our family memories.

However, taking photos of our pets is not an easy task at all. It takes a lot of effort! Getting pets to play, eat and sleep is much easier than making them pose for the camera along with other family members.



These 5 tips are something you should consider when you decide to organize a family photo session that will include pets as well:

1. Find The Right Setting

Step number one is to find the right location for your family photo session with pets.  The setting will depend on your pet – for instance, if your pet is an adult dog or cat, you can try shooting outside, in your backyard or maybe in the public park. An outdoor location usually helps dogs or cats act naturally.

On the other hand, if you’re shooting kittens, puppies, or small animals such as hamsters and guinea pigs, the best location would be indoors. If your house has large windows and a lot of natural light, it’s the perfect location for photographing small animals.

2. Check Out The Lighting

Just as we already mentioned, the best choice would be to go for natural light. Animals are used to natural light and they will be more relaxed in daylight. If you opt for flash, it may even frighten your pet or caused issues with red eyes that you’ll have to fix in post-processing.

However, in case you really want to have some unusual photos with your pets, it might be interesting to pose in a studio and use some interesting props. In this way, you can achieve a certain kind of atmosphere that you want – perhaps something humorous, sweet or even mysterious.

3. Don’t Take Posing Too Seriously

The next thing you need to take care of is to make your pet feel comfortable. Rather than forcing the pet to act in a certain way, you should be flexible and forgiving.

The best strategy is to pose the other members of your family first and only when everything seems to be ready, try to pose the pet. You can call out to him or whistle to get his attention.

Your camera should be ready to take a shot as soon as your pet looks your way. In case you’re not familiar with posing, you can find some family posing guidelines before the actual shoot – this can save you a lot of time!

4. Experiment With Your Shots

No one likes boring family shots with pets, where both people and pets are just standing still and looking straight into the camera. You should check out different angles you can make use of or simply ask your kids to play with pets.

Spontaneous shots may turn out better than the posed ones. However, no matter how playful your shots may be, you shouldn’t be completely oblivious to your surroundings.

For instance, you should make sure that your background has no clutter and that the composition makes sense.  If you’re shooting in a studio, make sure that the backdrop you’re using makes sense in terms of colors – both pets and people should look great!

5. Be Mindful Of Shutter Speed

Pets and kids both tend to move really quickly, which can be problematic for any amateur photographer who’s not really familiar with shutter speed settings.  You may need to set your shutter speed on a very fast frame in case the pet moves.  This means that your shutter speed could be something in between  1/200th and 1/500th of a second.

If you decided to get the perfect pet and family photo, the most important thing is simply to have fun and be affectionate towards your pet.

Unlike typical portrait sessions, taking photos with pets can be rather chaotic and fun, and it’s good to embrace it just the way it is.


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About the author

JasenkaG

Jasenka Grujin is a Serbian photographer educated in the United States and she's mainly into portraiture, such as wedding and band photography. She's also a big fan of the noir aesthetics. Her portfolio is being updated regularly with new portraits and concert photographs, so feel free to check it out. Jasenka is also an experienced WordPress theme designer.


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