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The Guide to Taking Selfies With Your Pet

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Ready, Set, Selfie!

You can’t scroll through Instagram or Facebook without seeing a stream of endless selfies in your feed. They’re easy to shoot and quick to post—and now you can get your pet in on the fun.

But trying to pose for a picture with your furry friend is anything but easy and, you’ll probably run into a few roadblocks. So we asked professional photographers to share their tips for taking the perfect pet selfie.

Don’t Force a Photo

It’s better for you to pose with your pet than trying to get them to fit in the frame with you, says Ty Foster, a Connecticut and New York dog photographer. “If your dog is already sitting, slide in next to them. Or even better, if they’re lying down, get down with them!” Don’t force the fun—join your buddy wherever he or she is hanging, and wait until the time is right.

Trick Them With Treats

Once you’re in a preferred position, hold a treat between your phone and the hand holding it, Foster advises. Let it stick up above the cell so your pet can see it, he says. Or you can take things one step further: “You could try taping a treat to the top of your phone, and I’d bet your pet would have a tough time taking their eyes off of it!” says Sara Riddle, a pet photographer who serves Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland. “The more well trained your pet is, the easier it will be to get them to stay in place.” And if they’re not food-motivated? “Enlist the help of a family member to hold their favorite toy behind the phone,” Foster says.

Strike Quickly

Pets generally tend to have short attention spans, Riddle says, so when you’ve got your pal’s attention, you’ll want to work quickly. One way to prolong the pose: get them working up a sweat. “One of the biggest things you can do is to ensure they’ve gotten some good quality exercise beforehand,” recommends Riddle. “It’s much easier to keep a tired dog’s attention because they don’t have as much pent-up energy.”

Find the Right Light

Even lighting is key, and shade works great because there are no harsh shadows, says Riddle. Her favorite time of day to shoot: “About an hour or so before the sun sets, the light outdoors gets absolutely magical,” she says. “It’s warm and buttery soft—the perfect time to take any photograph or selfie.” But remember to turn your flash off: “It can be very harsh, and won’t do either of you any favors. It might even startle or scare your pet.” And don’t shoot at night, or during times where there isn’t a lot of natural light available outdoors. The image quality won’t be very good, Riddle says.

Hold Your Phone at Eye Level

That’s what both Foster and Riddle recommend. “That’s almost always one of the most flattering angles for everyone,” Riddle says. Not that your pet cares about looking good—but you might!

Pick Your Props

The possibilities are endless. “Be creative and go wild—as long as your pet has patience,” says Foster. It also depends on his or her comfort level. “My dog, Tater Tot, is adorable when I put my sunglasses on her, but she doesn’t particularly enjoy it and freezes in place,” admits Riddle. “We can’t do anything to our pets that they don’t especially like and expect them to cooperate or look happy.” If you want to use a prop like shades or a scarf, practice positive reinforcement training first if they’re not familiar to get them comfortable with it, she suggests.

Rapid Fire

Try holding down your phone’s exposure button so it takes rapid-fire images. “Even if your pet only stays in place for a few seconds, you’ll still have at least a couple of images to choose from,” says Riddle.

Know When to Hold Back

“The best way to get a bad selfie is forcing your pet to do something they don’t want to do,” says Foster. Riddle agrees: “If all else fails, simply wait and try again later. You want your pet to enjoy the experience, so don’t force it.”

Unleash Your Selfie!

If you want to give your photo a final touch-up, consider editing it in an app. Riddle likes Photoshop Express: “I love the editing control [the app] gives you,” she says. “Play around with some of the sliders and see what looks good.” Happy with the final result? Head to your favorite social network and share with everyone!” Foster says.