For many, a holiday photo isn’t complete without the family pet making an appearance and while adorable, cats and dogs can be a challenge to photograph, especially when accessorized with holiday garb. To help you capture the pet photos possible, Purina Wonderfur Winter wanted to help you capture the best pet photos possible this holiday season. Expert pet photographer Jason Kygier-Baum <>  shares his tips on how to capture your cute cuddly cat or playful pooch at his or her best.

 Know your pet: Photos will turn out better if you stop to think about your subject and brainstorm ways to highlight your pet’s special characteristics.  For example, if your dog has a happy disposition, think of a way to put a smile on his face.  If your cat has a long coat then find a way to show it off in your photos.

  1. Pretty up with a little primping:  You wouldn’t get your picture taken with bed-head hair or unflattering clothes, so why should your pet?  Groom your pet before the photo shoot.  Animals with long fur should have it trimmed away from their eyes or tied back.
  2. Location, location, location:  Choose a location that puts your pet at ease and will make a nice backdrop.  The dog park might be a picturesque location, but the other dogs running around might make it tricky.  Also be sure that the backdrop doesn’t have distracting visual elements that will draw attention away from the subject in the photo.
  3. Lights, camera, action!: To take a great photo you’ll need to figure out how to light your animal properly.  
    • Indoors: photograph your animal in a room with lots of natural light (near a window works great).  
    • Outdoors: photograph your subjects in the shade or on an overcast day for nice even lighting.  On sunny days, shoot during the “golden hours” (one hour after sunrise or one hour before sunset) for flattering light.
    • Tip: No matter where you shoot try to angle your animal so that light reflects off their eyes.  This catch-light will bring them to life in the photos.
  4. Make it interesting: Use treats such as Wonderfur Winter holiday treats, toys, and praise to get your animal interested in the shoot.  Your pet will make different expressions depending on the toys you use and noises you make. The more they are enjoying themselves the better they will look in their photos.
    • Tip: Try holding a treat or toy beside the camera
  5. Get low:  Lower yourself to your animal’s level by sitting, kneeling, or lying on the ground.  The perspective of the photos will be better and your images will look more dynamic.
  6. Have fun:  Taking photos of animals is not easy, so be patient and try to have a good sense of humour.  The more fun you have the better your photos will turn out.

Once you have perfected the art, why not give your furry friend a chance at their 15 minutes of fame. To celebrate the festivities of the holiday season Purina is inviting Canadians to submit their favourite pet photos to <> . The dog and cat with the most votes at the end of the contest will have the chance to be featured on next year’s Wonderfur Winter holiday treats package.