written by: Lori Soard•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 1/30/2009
As if taking a picture of the entire family wasn't challenging enough, adding pets into the mix can create more chaos than you can imagine. There are several things you can do to get the best picture possible, no matter how many people and pets are in the frame!
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Knowing When to Take the Picture
When you take a photo can be just as important as where you take a photo. Family photos have their own unique set of challenges. For photographs with children and pets, it is important to choose a time when you know they will be calm and not as active. For example, if your child tends to grow hyper after lunch, then this probably isn't the best time to take a photograph. At the same time, when the child is extremely tired, it is not a good time to take a photograph as he or she may be cranky and not wish to smile or cooperate. The best time to take a photograph is when the child and pet are both relaxed and calm.
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Knowing Where to Take the Picture
As mentioned above, where a photograph is taken is just as important as when it is taken. Cats, for example, do not typically enjoy posing for the camera. It is best to photograph a cat while it is lazing in its favorite sleeping spots, such as a couch or the floor. Scatter the family around and start snapping. You may only get in a few shots before the cats grows disgusted and walks off. Remember that taking a great family photo is not a race. You can even use photographs from several different sessions and eventually find your favorite.
Dogs are much more social and more likely to want to be with the family during photograph time. Your biggest challenge may be in capturing the shot with all the movement. If your camera has a sports shot feature, turn it on and snap photos of the family playing with the dog. These candid shots can sometimes turn out much better than any posed shot ever could.
If your dog is trained, then it may be possible to use the down and stay commands to get the dog to stay in one spot. Position the family around the dog in a semi-circle facing the camera. Tallest child should be in back and shortest children closest to the camera.
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Limit the Number of Subjects
Too many animals in a photo can create so much movement that the photograph just comes off looking busy and unplanned. It is much better to have several different shots featuring different family pets than one shot with blurs and tons of red eye and people not looking at the camera.
For unusual pets, such as iguanas and turtles, consider taking a photograph of a single family member interacting with the pet. For example, set the iguana on a child's shoulder or place the turtle on a table and have the child look into the turtle's eyes, snapping the shot from the side. You can take a close-up shot of this by using your camera's Macro feature.
Remember to have fun as you're shooting pictures with family pets. There will certainly be moments that are unexpected, but those are the times that create the best memories and how wonderful to have a picture of that crazy moment to remind you of the laughter the family shared.
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