Best Tips, Techniques, and Ideas to Take Great Family Portraits with Pets

For those of us with a lot of pets, finding a photo booth for pets can seem impossible. But there are a few ways to capture the fun moments between your pet and your family without breaking the bank.

Get creative!

Using props can add an extra touch of fun to a standard photo booth session. Use a basket of treats as a prop, or create a cute background by hanging a small curtain off your backdrop and having your pet stand on it. For extra fun, ask each member of the family to wear a similar-colored top (such as a striped shirt) and then add some color contrast with different-colored pants.

Try a different approach.

Instead of spending lots of money on fancy props and a professional backdrop, you can use simple materials. Try using a large piece of foamboard, covered in fabric, or paint two small pieces of foamboard in coordinating colors and have your pet sit on one piece while your child sits on the other. For an even more budget-friendly option, set up a simple backdrop from cardboard or poster board. If you need to buy a backdrop, consider using one of those inexpensive photo backgrounds made for kids.

Find a place that suits the pet

To maximize fun and save money, look for a location that allows pets and kids to play together. Consider a local park, zoo or museum with animals and hands-on exhibits for kids, or a nature preserve with birds and squirrels. Also, make sure there are plenty of comfy couches, blankets, pillows, snacks and toys to keep your pet entertained while you snap photos.

The location is one of the most important things when taking photos with your pets. You need to make sure that they feel comfortable and at home in their environment because it can really affect how they behave during the shoot.

Make Sure Your Pet Is Comfortable During the Shoot

Another thing that you need to think about is how comfortable your pet feels during the photo shoot. As we mentioned above, this will greatly affect how they behave during the shoot as well as how they look in their portrait images afterwards!

Choose the themes

Let your family decide on a theme to coordinate the photo shoot. Or, create your own theme. Tell your children and pet that they will be able to choose props and clothing, or let them dress up as characters from their favorite movie. Be sure to include some fun photos of the pets and kids together in the past.

Bring along some Treats

You can’t expect your pet to sit still and look at the camera if they don’t get something in exchange for their cooperation. As long as you’re not trying to take photos of your dog while they’re eating (which could be dangerous), bringing along some treats is a great way to keep them focused on what’s important — you!

 Take lots of pictures!

Even if your pet isn’t cooperating right away, keep taking pictures anyway! You might be surprised by all of the cute moments you capture when you least expect them (and maybe even after an hour of trying).

Photograph pets in natural light

A good way to ensure your portraits look great is to photograph your pet in natural light, without flash. This works best if your camera has a built-in flash. If your camera doesn’t have a built-in flash, use a separate flashgun, but check that your flash can reach your subject (it shouldn’t be too far away). If your flash isn’t working, or your camera is old, you can still create some stunning images using natural light.

Use a white background

Set your camera to shoot in RAW mode, so you can later edit the image to remove any unwanted colour cast. Choose a neutral white background, such as a wall or window. Set your white balance so the background is pure white.

Make sure you use a tripod

Choose a fast shutter speed – one-half of a second or less – to freeze the action of your pet. Also, set your lens aperture wide open (f/2.8 or larger) so your depth of field is as shallow as possible. Finally, make sure the camera is level.

If you are planning on taking more than one portrait, set your timer and switch to auto-focus mode. Then turn the timer off and zoom in to your subject so it is clearly in focus. When your timer goes off, quickly set the shutter speed back to 1/2 second. Repeat this until you have a series of images.

Take several shots of your subject

Keep taking pictures of your pet until you have 10 or 12 images, which are all clear and sharp. Then pick the ones you like best.

Change your settings

Once you have taken your photographs, experiment with different shooting modes. You can choose between aperture priority, manual, program, and P, Tv, Av, M, Av, where P stands for program, Tv for TV, Av for aperture, and M for manual. To experiment, set your lens to apertures of f/2.8 or smaller and a shutter speed of 1/15 or slower. For example, you could try setting your camera to Av (aperture priority), Tv (shutter priority), and M (manual) and choose an aperture of f/3.5 and a shutter speed of 1/30. If you choose to use auto-focus, make sure your subject is as close as possible to the focus point. If your subject gets too close to the focus point, your camera may decide it needs to focus on a completely different object.

Have fun!

Try different techniques, and let your pets show their personality. Play with your pet’s fur, brush its ears, and tickle it. Have some fun with your pet, and let it know you are having fun too.