1. Choose a time when your pet is happy and relaxed. Most pets are calmer after mealtimes, or at certain times of day. This can take a little patience, depending on the pet--a snake is probably easier to photograph than an energetic puppy or curious kitten. Use your voice, treats, and toys to get a cute, inquisitive expression on your pet's face.
2. Plan to take many photos in order to get one or two really good ones. Digital photography makes this easy, so be sure you have plenty of room on your memory card and a charged battery. Don't think you need to take the perfect shot in a single session. Sometimes it takes several sessions to get that one great shot. Try to take photos in natural light, if possible.
3. Dress up your pet. Check the stores on this blog to find quality and fun holiday clothing. If your featured pet is a bird, reptile, or fish, why not decorate the cage or aquarium? Candy canes, wreaths, tinsel, and tree decorations can be artfully arranged to make a cute holiday environment for just about any caged pet.
4. Take close-up shots. A Christmas card will be much more effective if the subject fills the screen. To achieve a good close-up effect with a wider photo, use your digital software's "Zoom and Crop" feature.
5. Pay attention to background. A simple, uncluttered background is much more visually appealing than a cluttered, messy one. Use a colored blanket, Christmas quilt, or even a tablecloth as a backdrop. Outdoor shots in the snow are perfect if the weather cooperates.
6. Use your digital camera's editing software to enhance, brighten, or lighten not-so-perfect photographs.
7. Sign up with a store that prints holiday cards from your photos. This can be done online without even going to the store, or you can bring a picture CD to the store and use the on-site computer. This will allow you to add decorative borders and Christmas messages to your card for a professional look.
Have fun. If your pets are like my boys, they can be total hams. Enjoy the time you spend with them.