Family Photo Shoot Time: How to Photograph Kids and Pets

A recent post here at Virtual Photography Studio covered the often delicate issue of organizing and setting a price for photo shoots that involve newborn babies. And since we were on the topic of family photos, we’ve decided to tackle another related subject today: how to photograph kids and pets together. Two of the most difficult to approach subjects in family and wedding photography also often make for some of the most engaging photos in the field. They are also often to be found at weddings and family celebrations since, let’s face it, they’re often the stars of the affair. Now, you may already know how to take endearing pictures of the family pooch, or how to bring out the best in little Timmy’s personality in front of the camera. But what happens when you need to work with both of them at the same time? Here are some of the basic tips you can readily apply in such scenarios, to come up with lovely pictures of the whole family!

Capture them on the go

What can be more genuine and lovely than a picture of a child frolicking with the family dog, on the freshly mowed lawn? Not many things, if you ask us, which is why it’s always a good idea to capture these subjects as they move about. Avoid asking kids to pose, if you can – you run the risk of coming up with a photo that looks contrived. Instead, follow them at play and capture spontaneous moments. The technique of action shots does require a good dose of practice, but it’s well worth it, after all is said and done.

How to photograph kids and pets? At their level!

The most engaging portraits, irrespective of the species you’re shooting, are taken at eye level. This, of course, means that when you’re photographing kids and pets together, you’ll be spending most of your time on your knees. However, a well-framed shot of a kid holding a kitten, eyes looking directly into the camera, can melt even the iciest of hearts. Of course, don’t take this to mean that you need to make your ‘models’ look into the lens – in fact, you should probably avoid this altogether. Instead, for great effects, try to shoot from the perspective of the animals and kiddos you’re photographing. This will make your work seem natural and candid, it will help you achieve even lighting, and will probably greatly improve the quality of the background, too.

Up, close, and personal

Another rule of thumb on how to photograph kids and pets is to use your viewfinder and/or camera LCD to fill up as much space as you can with your subject. The closer you get, the more personal the shot will look, in the end. Don’t shy away from using the camera’s zoom, either. Remember that your aim is to capture those moments that count and they usually happen when a close bond is formed. They’re not the kind of moments you can notice from a distance, you know? Remember to check out the closest zooming distance whenever you go in for the zoom, then fire away.


One of the biggest challenges that even professional photographers are faced with, when photographing more than a single subject, is that of blurry, out-of-focus pictures. It most often happens when you’re using the auto-focus function of the camera (which you never should do, anyway, as a professional photographer). Make sure to lock the focus on your subject, then fire away. With a bit of luck (and a lot of practice) you’ll get clear, focused shots of precisely what you had been aiming for: love.