Pets Are Family Too!

By Andrea Martin

Few things in this world are more exciting than bringing home a new pet. It’s indescribably special to introduce a new member into your family and watch them explore their new home. I’m so grateful I grew up in a household that cherished our pets as part of the family. Each time we adopted a new puppy or brought home a new kitten, it was a momentous time. 

My mom always remembered to include the pets in family photos. When she took pictures for our Christmas cards, our dogs were right there with us—she loved to capture our everyday lives, which always included one or more of our pets. I am so thankful to have those precious photos documenting the bond I had with my four-legged friends.

Now I get to watch that expression of joy and excitement in my children’s faces whenever we bring a new pet into our home—we have about thirty—and I am careful to document each one. I love capturing my children’s sweet expressions as they snuggle (or watch—it’s hard to snuggle a fish) their new friend. Even more precious is capturing the bond between child and pet as they grow older. When my daughter was two, we got her a baby guinea pig named Cute. I love to look back at photos and videos of when we first brought Cute home. My daughter is now six, and Cute is all grown (and a little chubby); looking at those photos still brings a smile to my face. This is the power of photography—the ability to capture not only a moment but the emotions coursing through that moment.

It’s so critical to take pictures of your pet even when the newness has worn off. As they grow old, people sometimes forget to include them in photos. Some of my favorite pictures are of my children with our dog, Daisy. She was such a sweet, loyal companion. My husband and I adopted her as a puppy before we had children, so they grew up with her. Now that she’s gone, those photos are priceless; I’m so relieved I documented every stage of her life. I can look back at those photos to see the patient love she had for my children as she grew older and how much they adored her in return. 

Here are three ways to take great photos of your pets and preserve their memories:

1. Hire a professional photographer 

Including a pet in your family sessions is a great way to capture your furry friend as a member of the family. Most professional photographers love snapping shots of every family member, including the furry ones. When you’re planning your yearly photo session, why not include them? After all, they’re family too!

Pro tip: ask the photographer to take a few images of just your pet, so you have a portrait of them as well. Part of capturing the perfect image is to capture emotion. Have everyone interact with your pet behind the scenes. You want it to look natural.

2. Use your phone to take photos 

We have a camera right in our pocket; smartphones make it easier to document everything with photos. Unfortunately, digital images can be easily lost or accidentally deleted, and we often don’t take the time to print the pictures out. Fear not: technology is amazing! We can snap a picture and order a print without having to download it to a computer. Make sure you turn your photos into tangible memories so you don’t lose those precious images. 

When capturing your pet with your phone, find some good natural light. Having the pet facing a window will help. If your phone has portrait mode, use it! It will help create a professional-looking image and allow your darling pet to stand out when the background is blurred. If you are shooting outside, try to shoot in the shade to avoid harsh light and weird shadows.

3. Take out your big camera and take lots of pictures of your pet 

When taking pictures of your pet with a digital camera, there are a few things to consider. First, remember that not every image has to be a perfect portrait. Try to capture their personality, silly side, and funny quirks. Snap some candids of your children interacting with them; the authentic moments are the ones that make the best memories. And always remember: you can’t take too many photos! Don’t worry about overshooting. Take photos of your pet at different angles. Get cute closeups of their paws and other details. And lastly, remember to print your photos. Your pet is your family too, and you want to have those images around to remember them forever.

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