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Home / Articles / Columnists / Dog World with Tina /  Better Holiday Images
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Monday, December 7,2015

Better Holiday Images

By Tina Valant-Siebelts  

We photographers are busy creating memories and freezing time capturing images of families, including the furry-wonders. For those not on social media, it’s when we get to see loved ones, and feel a special connection. Framed portraits make unique, heartfelt gifts. Of course, it’s always BEST (and alleviates stress) to hire an animal-loving, professional photographer (hint, hint), with experience. But, if you want to give it a whirl, here are my tried and true suggestions:


What to wear?

Choose a solid color on top avoiding black, white, gray and fluorescents.These tones and colors can drain skin tone if you don’t have the right lighting and/or professional make up.

I am known for asking (or is it begging?) my family to wear/ bring a certain color for the extended family picture. Otherwise, it looks haphazard. The eye drifts all over a rainbow of colors, not focusing on faces or expressions.

A dated holiday image (wearing seasonal colors or Santa hats) usually gets put away after the holiday. I recommend a change of clothes during the session, so you have both options.

Pay attention to body language. No folded arms, hidden hands, clasped hands in front; and turn toward one another (not away).

Dog is the star

I prefer dogs naked (as nature intended) - not dressed up in crazy costumes, masking their natural beauty. Make sure they are groomed, brushed and looking their best.

If your dog is not under total voice command, use a collar and a four to six foot lead - NEVER use a retractable or flexi.

Make sure your dog is hungry, so s/he will be motivated to sit on command. Have high-value treat, like cheese as a payoff.

Like any living thing, dogs can be unpredictable. I was informed of another local case of a young child being severely bitten in the face by a family dog. Even though you’ve “had the dog its whole life, and think s/he would never do that”, IT HAPPENS. I cringe every time I see an image of a child sitting saddle-like on a dog. Please, never ever let a child ride or sit on a dog. Do not risk the child being bitten, scarred and/or the dog losing its family and/or life because of this senseless mistake.

In general:

KISS ~ Keep it simple, sugar. Have a plan, yet be open to what occurs.

Natural outdoor lighting is the most flattering on the skin.

Focus on the subject(s), not the props or setting. Keep your background uncluttered.

We live in tropical paradise, so head to the beach, a pretty garden setting or go to a park.

Whether I am capturing images of children or pets - PATIENCE is the key. It is supposed to be fun, so allow some play time during the session.

A great portrait elicits a response, that can be a sigh (how sweet), a smile, or a laugh. Allow the session to unfold, naturally.

The number of subjects in the picture increases the amount of time and images taken to get “the one”. End on a positive note. If you didn’t get “the image”, call me!

Tina Valant-Siebelts is a confirmed dog-o-holic, mom to many rescued pets, who volunteers with numerous organizations. To "fill all those dog bowls," Tina is an award-winning photographer, writer & event coordinator.


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