This year I have had more personal time than I have had in long time (so thankful), so I decided to spend some of that time shooting my own holiday card. Yep, I'm that girl who is an animal lover who made her cat the star of the show. I have no shame in doing so! Once I have kids, I'm 100% sure I will be that mom who makes her kids the star of the show. In the meantime, Max is it! Over time, Max has become more comfortable being in front of the camera - and I have finally figured out how to make him sit still for more than 5 minutes to get a good shot. Many of you have asked me how I do it, so I thought I'd share a few tips with you today. You might have a pet that follows commands really well and doesn't mind the camera, but I haven't always been that lucky, so here's what I do... 

1. Plan the shoot in a familiar environment around their typical nap time - My favorite pet photos are the ones that make it look like the pet is totally comfortable being in front of the camera when that couldn't be further from the truth. I've found that the easiest way to get that look is to work with them when they are sleepy and in their own environment. So if you know your pet sleeps mostly in the afternoon, then plan to shoot them right after they start sleeping. I usually wake Max up and carry him (he loves to be held when he's sleepy) to a spot he likes to be in (if he isn't there already) and one that has some good light. I then "go about my day" in that space and see if he will get settled somewhere. Pets can pick up on you when you are trying to get them to do something they ordinarily wouldn't want to do, so it's important for you to act natural. In this photo, Max happened to be lounging comfortably on my bed - a place he loves to be, so I knew there was a chance. If you have a dog, then using treats to get them to sit still obviously helps as well. 

2. Exercise patience - Step one might take one, two, or ten tries over one, two, or ten days. You just have to let them do what they do naturally. You have to be natural as well. If I seem impatient with Max and try to force him to do something he doesn't want to do, then getting a good shot is impossible. 

3. Adjust your camera settings and prepare any props before the shoot: Once they are settled and seem comfortable, quickly take some test shots and adjust your settings. The last thing you want to do is fool with your camera during the 30 seconds you have the perfect shot. If your camera beeps when it focuses, then I recommend turning that function off to avoid scaring the pet off. Once Max had been settled on my bed for a few minutes, I adjusted the camera, and quietly and softly arranged the ribbon in front of him and the garland behind him. I had those in the room beforehand. He was deliriously sleepy, so he never moved. Plus, Max is used my shenanigans and the camera, so he was fine. But if this step isn't working out, then recall #2 above! :)

4. Act quickly, but quietly and patiently! That's a tall order, I know. Once your camera is set and they are still in a good spot, start shooting, but do so in a really soft and quiet manner. If you are frazzled or frustrated, then they pick up on that and are likely to move. Once I get a one good shot, I basically keep pressing the shutter button to get the most photos I can before he moves. 

All of that is easier said than done, especially if you have a cat or a hyper dog, but it can be done if you exercise enough patience! :)

Holiday card: "Simply Happy Holiday Card" via Minted

Images by me

**Not a sponsored post **

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