Professional animal photographer Sam Allen gives us the following tips for taking great photos of your costumed friend. Patience is key, says Allen, who spoke to PEOPLEPets.com from her studio in Portland, Maine. (That’s her yellow Lab, Zoey, impersonating Dracula.) "It takes time to get the photo just how you want it," she explains. Here are her best suggestions:
1. Get comfy. Your pup isn’t necessarily thrilled to wear strange attire. He might try to chew the costume or wriggle it off. So let your pooch sniff the costume, walk around, get used to it. If there are several parts to the costume, put on one at a time. Headgear goes on last.
Comfy also means taking the dog for a walk before your photo session. In the studio, "my dogs can become really antsy," says Allen. Time for a bathroom break!
2. Employ treats. Use food and toys, those major motivators, to snag your pet’s attention. Your animal will likely prick up its ears, cock its head or make its cute face. "It’s bribery, but it works," Allen says.
3. Use natural light. It's best to take photos outdoors on a slightly overcast day. Avoid direct sunlight, which will create harsh shadows. Indoors, take photos in a well-lit room or near a window with indirect light, and use your camera’s flash to further illuminate your subject if necessary.
4. Downplay the background. Position your pet in the middle of a yard or room, not against a wall. Plenty of space behind the pet makes for a softer background. Clear up nearby clutter and distractions.
5. Get the animal’s eye view. Crouch or kneel so you are at your pet's eye level. Or pose your pet on a piece of furniture. Otherwise, you will have a shot of an animal’s head looking up at you, which works only if the costume is a mask or hat.
Then, focus on the face. "Almost any picture of your pet will be good," Allen says, "if the eyes are in focus."