How To Take A Pet Photograph For Your Christmas Card

Well last month, I promised you another blog from Sue Ford, who lives in Salisbury Wiltshire, England with her family and two adorable dogs, Boots and Buster.

Yup, she’s back. Let’s enjoy her wonderful images and then we can review some of the basic “rules” she is following to get these shots. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so if you want to improve your pet photographs, start here by analyzing what all these images have in common.

So what are the common threads that are running through all these images? What can we immediately see without actually talking about it?

For starters, the animals are well groomed. ✔ Check.

All these images are tight crops. ✔ Check.

The focus is on the eyes. ✔ Check.

So far so good and none of these techniques are hard to do. But here comes the toughie…

The animals/people are carefully posed and looking straight at the camera. ✔ Check.

The last check is the only difficult one for a shoot with pets. Sue uses treats and a lot of training ahead of her shoots to achieve the poses and she shoots very quickly, a must with animals.

She writes that …”we  have a lot of fun with Buster. He is very well behaved and will sit still in lots of different hats and outfits for any occasion. I tell him to sit, plonk a hat on his head, or sunglasses, or whatever else I may have planned for him to wear. I give him a treat and tell him to wait. And he does. He is such a good boy. Buster copies everything Boots does so I tell him the same thing and give him a treat and he co-operates. He doesn’t always sit still as long as Boots and he wants to chew the props, so I have to be really quick for a costume shot with him. So I use a treat. Put on the hat. Tell him to sit, stay, wait. Give him another treat and shoot.”

So get out your list and start checking it twice. Let’s see if your Christmas photos turn out knotty or nice.

You can see more of Sue’s wonderful pet photos at

Good shooting!

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