It’s no secret that I LOVE my dog. Huxley features prominently on my Instagram account. We adopted him and shortly after, my husband deployed. Only a few months later, my youngest kiddo started school. As you can imagine, he easily became my baby. I know I’m not the only one whose pet has a special place in their heart.
Pets are often found in the background of the images that document our lives, but I think they deserve to be front and center. The sad truth is that our furry friends won’t experience the same kind of longevity we will. The average lifespan for dogs is just 10-13 years. Cats can live a little longer, but even their lives are only a small percentage of our time on earth.
I know for our family, that my kids love to look back on pictures of our first dog, Winston. Sadly, he passed away a few years ago but he was an important part of our life for over a decade. In fact, he predated our children and until his passing, they didn’t know a time without him. I think that photographing our pets is an integral part of documenting our kids’ childhood.
So, how can you go about photograph your pet(s) in a way that incorporates them into the story of your lives while also showcasing their own personality? Here are a few practical tips.
Include the Kids
Get your kids in the picture. What better way to incorporate your pet into your storytelling than to capture the relationship between your kids and their beloved pet? Be a fly on the wall so you don’t interrupt their bonding moment and snap away. (HINT: Setting your camera to silent is a great way to record an authentic moment while your kiddos are none the wiser).
Find the Unique
Look for unique (and lovable) characteristics. Does your pet have one floppy ear? A big grin? Nothing showcases personality like documenting the things that make your pet unique. (HINT: If it puts a big grin on your face, chances are, that’s something worthy of a picture).
Get Down Low
Get down on their level. Similar to photographing children, you gain an entirely new perspective when you try to see the world the way your pet does. (HINT: Lay on the floor with your pet until they relax and then take a picture. They’ll be much more relaxed).
Bribe with food. Nothing gets my dog’s attention like a yummy treat. It’s a sure fire way to get eye contact and good behavior. No need for anything special. Most dogs will work for a piece of their regular dry kibble.
Capture what Your Pet Loves
Catch your pet in the act of __________. Fill in the blank. Is your dog a couch potato? Does your cat like to lay around in the sun? Do you have a puppy whose goal in life is to chew up all your shoes? Are laser lights on the wall your feline’s best friend? Photograph your pet doing what they love to do.
Someday, your pet may be gone and you’ll be so glad you photographed the part they played in the life of your family.