How to take frighteningly good Halloween photos of your pets

Halloween is the perfect holiday to take fun pictures of your pet, whether you’re for or against pet costumes. (Our survey says those in favor of costumes win — barely.) But just because pets are naturally photogenic doesn’t mean they’re always cooperative in front of a lens. In fact, they’re often more interested in playing with the camera than posing for it.

No one knows this better than Best Friends photographer Sarah Kichas, who takes professional photos of pets every day. During one of her recent photo shoots, kittens dressed as super heroes pounced on each other, chased tails, tried to tear down the set and attacked the camera strap. But with a lot of patience and a little help from a pink feather on a string, she got the job done. Go behind the scenes at the photoshoot.

You don’t have to be a professional photographer to take great Halloween photos of your pet — in costume or not. But it sure helps to get advice from one. Here are our tips on how to take awesome photos of your pet at Halloween, or any time of the year.

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Kitten dressed as Wonder Woman for Halloween

Costumes

If your pets aren’t used to wearing a costume, try getting them accustomed to it for a few hours before trying to take photos. Give them time to get comfortable in it, so they will be more at ease when you get your camera out. “Most important of all, be patient,” says Sarah. “Animals don't work on your schedule. You'll get a good picture of them when they want you to.”

If it’s your pet’s first time wearing a costume, keep it simple. You can make a Halloween-themed collar with colorful fabric and a bit of Velcro.  

Lighting

Good lighting is the key to good photos. If you’re taking photos indoors, avoid using a flash and shoot in a well-lit location — for example, near a window. Try to keep bright light behind you and in front of your subjects so that it lights up their eyes. The best light for photography is the soft light between bright sunlight and dark shadows.

Dog in Halloween costume

Your (scary) camera lens

Some pets are frightened by the sight of a camera lens, which can look like a giant eye staring at them. If your pets run at the sight of your camera, give them the time they need to get over their fear, or try using your phone’s camera instead.

Posing

Don't manipulate your pet's position too much or try to get them to do something because you think it will be a cool photo. It probably won't work and will just stress them out. Instead, coax them into your preferred shooting location with something they like.

“Toys and treats are how you can get your pet to look directly into the camera,” says Sarah. “Hold a toy or treat just barely above your camera lens. If you hold it anywhere else, it will be obvious the animal is looking away.” If your pet still does not want to look at the camera, try making some funny (but not scary) noises to engage their attention and get them to look at you.

Haley the dog dressed up as a triceratops for Halloween

Staging

A spooky background is a fantastic way to get Halloween-themed photos of your pet, especially if costumes aren’t their thing. If you already dress up your house for Halloween, you’ve already set the stage for a great Halloween photo with your pet. You can also just go minimalist by taking photos of your pet next to a pumpkin or jack-o'-lantern.

Sharing

So, you’ve finally gotten some adorable or ghoulishly good pics of your pet at Halloween. Now what? Share them, of course. And get ready for everyone to scream — with delight, of course.

Need more inspiration? Check out these Instagram-worthy pets, all adopted from Best Friends:

moggiedogs

stinkerellis

maui.and.oggy

yohananddesmond

Adopt your next pet and get in on the photo fun

Photos by Sarah Ause Kichas