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How to Take Great Pictures of the Family Pet

© NYI Student Larysa Y. Petlina

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Close up - A white brindle Bulldog is laying down on a hardwood floor and it is looking forward. Its tongue is sticking out of its mouth and touching the floor.

With holiday time approaching, now is the time when the family photographer tends to get out the camera to snap those memorable family photos, but don't overlook your dog or cat or parakeet or turtle—they're members of your family too! These tips from the New York Institute of Photography (NYI), America's oldest and largest photography school, will show you how you can capture your pet on film.

Just like other members of your family, the pet in your life may need to be cajoled to stand still long enough for you to push the shutter button. The easiest way to do this is to use the time-honored tradition of treats. Who wouldn't do just about anything for something yummy? In fact, if you want two animals to "cuddle," try rubbing some food behind the ear of one of them—then be prepared to shoot fast!

One of the most important elements for good pet photography is to try to capture the personality of your animal on film. This can be accomplished by taking photographs of your pet in action, doing the kinds of things they like to do—be that sneaking a peek at tempting people food or enjoying a good roll in the mud, or even sleeping in your favorite chair. Remember to get down (or up) to their level for an interesting angle—a bird's-eye view after all is called that for a reason—and be prepared to shoot fast since you never know what may happen.

Get the two-legged members of your family involved too. Kids and pets are a natural picture opportunity and a whole lot of fun to watch in action also. The trick here is to try to get the attention of both the child and the animal so that they are looking in the same direction.

For NYI's Seven Tips on How to Take Great Photos of your four-legged or fuzzy family members, visit New York Institute of Photography.

© NYI Student Carolyn Sauer

A white poodle in a pink tutu with its front paws in the air.

Consider your camera angle.

© NYI Student Judy L. Smith

Close up - A white Labrador is sitting on a carpet and looking forward. It has a ribbon on its chest.

© NYI Student Deborah J.Cadorette

A boy is kicking the blue waters of a swimming pool and swimming next to him is a yellow Labrador Retriever dog.

Don't forget the treats and the props!

© NYI Student Charles Kuhn

Front view - A black and white photo of a Doberman Pinscher dog that is laying down looking to the right.

Be prepared for sudden movement.

Reprinted with permission from New York Institute of Photography.