When my son was born nearly a year ago, one of my two dogs took an immediate interest in him. The dog would rush to his side every time he cried, showering him with affection.

As a new mom, I was often too tired to capture all the precious moments, mainly because I couldn’t find my camera in time. But after a couple of weeks, I started keeping my camera handy so I could capture those special moments, even though editing them seemed like a distant goal.

Over time, I’ve learned a lot about photographing pets and babies. If you’re trying to capture moments with your pets and little ones, here are some tips that may help:

1. Keep Your Camera Ready

The key to catching fleeting moments is to have your camera accessible at all times. I kept mine on the dining table with my go-to settings pre-selected. When a perfect moment appeared, I could quickly grab the camera and make any minor adjustments needed.

2. Pay Attention to Aperture and Shutter Speed

When it comes to settings, avoid opening the aperture too wide; you want both pet and baby in focus. I stick to around f/2.5, or even f/3.2 on bright days with lots of natural light. As for shutter speed, keep it above 1/160 of a second to accommodate your wiggly subjects.

3. Use Burst Mode

Rapid fire mode lets you capture multiple shots in a second, ensuring you don’t miss those brief, adorable moments. For a quieter approach, use the “Quiet” rapid fire mode to avoid startling your subjects.

4. Avoid Flash

Flash can disrupt your pets and ruin a perfect moment. Instead, rely on natural light or adjust your ISO higher to avoid using flash.

5. Pose Baby First, Then Pet

For posed shots, settle the baby first (preferably asleep) before introducing the pet. Place them safely on a comfy chair and have the dog sit nearby. Smaller dogs or very calm big dogs can lay beside the baby on a bed for a cozy shot.

6. Go with the Flow

If a candid moment ends as soon as you pull out your camera, keep it ready. Something even better may be around the corner! And if a posed photo isn’t working, take what you can get. You might end up with a delightful outtake.

7. Cats Are Different

Cats don’t usually respond to commands and prefer to do their own thing. For baby-and-kitty shots, see where the cat settles and position the baby nearby.

8. Get Help

For posed shots, enlist other adults to assist. When I wanted a family holiday photo, I had my husband manage the dogs and a friend help with my son.

9. Be Mindful with Treats

While treats can encourage cooperation, using high-value treats might overstimulate your pet. Sometimes, it’s better to avoid treats altogether or opt for lower-reward options.

Capturing memorable moments with your pets and babies requires patience and flexibility. Keep your camera ready and enjoy the process of preserving these special memories.