How to Stage a Christmas Photo With Kids and a Dog

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Lining the children and pets up in a row in front of the decorated fireplace or Christmas tree produces a traditional holiday photo, but don’t stop there. To get the best photo, take many more pictures than you think you’ll use, in different rooms and in different poses. Start shooting even while your subjects are setting up for the photo shoot -- sometimes the best shoots will be un-posed and spontaneous.

Use Christmas Accessories

  • Wrapped boxes without their lids and Christmas stockings make perfect holders for small pets. If your children are small, place them in the same large box. If not, take pictures of your children placing the dog in the box or stocking and sitting next to it once the dog is inside. With large dogs, use boxes -- with real presents inside or just as props you’ve wrapped for the photo -- to sit on or to lean over. Or, pile boxes on top of each other to create drama and height and have the children and dog peek from behind the pile.

Dress Everyone in Christmas Clothes

  • Holiday bows, ribbon, reindeer antlers, elf hats, Santa hats or elegant tuxedos and party dresses make Christmas photos more interesting, whether they’re worn by the children in your photos, the pets or by both. If you have a Christmas sweater for your pet, match your children’s clothes to that, and take multiple pictures with different clothing and hats, deciding later which photos look best. Use close-up shots with the children holding the dog on their laps; shoot from your subjects' eye levels with a bit of the Christmas tree in the background.

Take Photos Outdoors

  • The minute you step outside, the light for your photo improves from the rich, natural light from the sun. Place a wreath on your front door and pose the children standing in front of the door holding the dog. Use outdoor accessories, such as sleds for the children and dog to sit, on or snowmen for your subjects to peek around. Or, let your children and pet lie down next to each other in the snow and stage a shot at their eye level or from above, standing on a ladder and looking down.

Take an Action Shot

  • Give your children an activity to do and take shots of them in action, but also ask them to freeze during the activity so that you can take a picture with them all looking in your direction. Have the children build gingerbread houses, string popcorn or wrap presents with the dog looking on. Outdoors, position the children pulling each other and the dog on a sled, standing on skies or walking on the snow with linked arms with the dog at their side, or stringing lights on an outdoor tree with the dog looking on.

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  • Photo Credit pyotr021/iStock/Getty Images
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