How to take Photos of Kids and Pets ~ Part 1

They say to never work with kids and animals…. but why wouldn’t you want to when the results are so very very sweet?

For families with pets, the pets are often simply the other ‘kids’ and photographing the entire family is especially meaningful.  The bond with pets is a beautiful part of life – they bring pure joy and endless love to enrich our lives.   To your child, their relationship with the family pet is extraordinary – they are a confidant, companion, exploring buddy, protector and best friend.  Capturing the kids with their pets is an important memory to preserve as you document your life.

While the spontaneity and unpredictably of kids and pets together is a wonderful thing, it can also be particularly challenging to photograph.  I’ve put together a few tips to help you take some amazing pictures of all your little loved ones.

♥ It’s about the interactions. You won’t often have both the kids and animals looking down the camera with beautiful ‘just them’ expressions but that’s very okay.  Your kids and pets don’t actually have to be looking at the camera for the most amazing images – the interactions between a child and their pet are far more magical.  Look to capture the genuine moments – the big dog lick across the face and the face pulling afterwards, the gorgeous nuzzling of a kitty to a little ones cheek, the gentle prodding and pushing when all squeezed into the backseat, the secret sharing of a favourite snack.

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♥ Planning.  Setting aside some time specifically to take some photos can be a great idea in today’s busy lifestyle.  Pick the right time of day for both your kids and pets. If your kids aren’t at their best at the start of the day and the dog is crazy until it’s burnt off energy on a walk, then that’s not the time to be taking their photos!  Look at the times and occasions when everyone is at their best and photograph then.  Alternatively, you can create a time when everyone is likely to be at their best and this leads us to….

♥ Make it an Event.  It can pay to plan an outing, event or something fun for everyone involved, then relax and capture whatever happens. A trip to the beach for the entire family is sure to put everyone in a great mood and give you the opportunity for great photos.  And even if amazing photos don’t result (which is pretty unlikely) by heading out together you are still going to be enjoying some wonderful quality time.

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♥ Use of ‘Props’.  Kids and pets alike can be very active, so rather than chasing them around try using simple props which impede or slow their movement.  Set up for your photography on couches, chairs, beds, playing in boxes or the like.  That way your subjects are contained within that space and you have created a precious couple of seconds with which to press the shutter before they are on the go again!

♥ The Action.  Capturing the action or movement of kids and pets playing can result in great photos.  It can also be pretty difficult with so many different moving parts.  If you are after the action shot of kids and pets, set up the shot where you will have a fair idea of the direction of their movement.  For example, coming down on a slide together or having them running back towards you.  Being able to predict their movement will help you know where to focus and when to push the button.

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♥ Employ your Child.  Kids are growing up with cameras recording them all the time.  Often they become a different version of themselves in front of the camera (we all know that fake ‘cheese smile’).   Or they can become annoyed at the intrusion into what it was they were doing.  Instead of making the photos about the child, ask them to help you get great photos of the pet.  Of course you will be cleverly be catching the interaction as they ‘help’ you but the child will be focussed on interacting with the pet instead of the camera!

♥ Relax.  Both kids and pets are attuned to your non verbal cues and body language.  If you’re not enjoying the experience of capturing their photos together, chances are your subjects are having no fun either.  Aim to capture the photos when you are in the right frame of mind to do so.  And if during it just isn’t happening and you can feel yourself getting frustrated – pause, put the camera down and take a little time out to just play.

Be sure to check out part 2 here!

Kerry Martin

Kerry is 'Top Dog' here at Puppy Tales. With her own adored dogs, she completely gets that your four legged furry buddy is absolutely part of the family. That they sleep on the bed, that you want to take them everywhere, that you plan holidays so they’re included & that their presence makes your life incredible.