PET PORTRAITS PHOTO GUIDE
Photographing your pets can be daunting but I hope some of these tips help. You may also find my faq’s has extra information that could be useful.
The best photographs are taken with a digital camera if possible, but some of the newer mobile phones also have very good cameras. The clearer and more detailed the photo, the better the final portrait will be. A good close-up photograph that is sharp is ideal. Do not zoom in as this will affect the quality of the photo, its much better to move closer.
Please provide a selection of photographs of your pet, if possible four or five but as many as possible really. Try to choose at least one that you think shows the character or typical expression. Also, make sure you get the exact pose you want as this will be the pose for the painting. Dogs and cats look good when sitting rather than lying down.
WITH COLLAR OR WITHOUT?
If you’d like the collar in the pet portrait, try to make sure it can be seen. However, if you don’t want it, then remove it as a collar can distort the way the fur lays. If you’re photographing a horse and the bridle can’t be removed completely, try slipping a lead rope around the neck. This way the face isn’t obscured.
If you want a drawing of the whole body, please take some close-up photos of the head as well. I work from one main image but the others are useful for eye colour, coat colour etc. The more information I have the better. Try taking several close up photographs filling the frame with the face. If possible, take extra photographs of the eyes, nose and ears so that I have good, sharp, detailed photos to work from.
When photographing your pets ensure there is good light, preferably natural daylight. If indoors put them near a window or doorway, this is much better than using a flash, the more natural light the better. Outside is the best option if possible, diffused shade will eliminate distracting shadows A bright but cloudy day is ideal. A good test is if you can see a reflection in the eyes. Also, can you see what colour they eyes are? The light source should be behind you but be careful not to cast a shadow onto your pet.
Just like photographing children, the best photos of pets are obtained when you are on the same level as them. If they are at ground level you need to get down with your camera. The other option would be to bring them up to you so that that camera is just above their eye level. Put them on a chair, table or foot stool and bring them up closer to you.
A good position for your pet is either facing you straight on, a side/profile view, or something in-between the two. You could, of course, go for a completely different angle and get down low looking up at your pet from below. This works well if it’s a large dog or a horse. However, it works equally well for a small dog or cat that’s positioned up high on a table with you on the floor. Choose a viewpoint to suit your pet and their personality.
For maximum impact fill the frame with your pet. Alternatively, you can step back slightly to have more of the background or landscape, if you would like this included in the portrait.
Please email photographs at their original size so that the detail isn’t lost by reducing the size. Don’t download them from your social media pages as they distort the original file, it would be much better if you could send the original.
IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT USING PHOTOS BY PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHERS.
I cannot work from photographs taken by professional photographers without their written permission as the photographer holds the copyright. If the photos you would like me to use were not taken by you, please let me know the photographers contact information so that I can ask their permission to use their image.