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Tips for photographing your pet for a great portrait painting

Georgina -  1 Nov 2017 19:00:00 Other articles...


My hints and tips to enable you to take a great photo of your pet for use as the reference for an art portrait.


These are just a few things that I have learned along the way, and by providing me with the best possible photo - you will enable me to provide you with the best and most realistic representation of your pet as is possible! After all, a portrait painting can only have as much detail in it as the supplied photograph has, so it is important to get the best picture of your pet as is possible.

Firstly, if you have an SLR camera then please do you use it! This type of camera really does capture more detail than a smartphone is able to, and they make my job so much easier! Also, they make your job of capturing your pet (as he bops around and refuses to sit still) so much easier. By choosing a fast shutter speed you will freeze that movement in a much clearer image.

...Having said that, the latest Smartphones can be ok, particularly if the image is taken in daylight and is close up to the subject.

A Definite NO NO..

Please don't use a flash! 

The flash is too harsh and zaps significant details and also changes the colour of your pet's coat, which then makes it very difficult for me to accurately represent your pet in his true fur!


Below are some examples of what I am looking for and what I am not looking for in a great reference photo.

Great Photo yes

Bad Photono


This photo is in good natural light, and the face is clear and sharp showing plenty of detail.

The contrast in light here is too harsh which is bleaching out the details of the face. The image is also blurry losing important features


Great Photo yes


Bad Photono



Good natural light, both eyes can be seen, this could be improved by moving the camera lower, level with the dogs eyes. The contrast here is also too extreme, the all important eyes have been lost in the shadows. The camera angle is good however, level with the eyes is best!



Which Pose is best?

Ultimately the best photos are the ones that you think represents your pet accurately.

A good rule of thumb is to make sure you can see both the eyes. Sometimes I will need a separate photo of just the eyes so that I can really study the shape and colour accurately. It is also far better to take a photo from eye level (the camera lens level with your pet's eyes) as this will give a more lifelike appearance and avoid the 'fisheye' effect that unavoidably happens when you take a photograph.

Of course - if you like this more contemporary style and would like it recreated on canvas then great, I can do that for you!

An example of a photo taken from above recreated on canvas.



An example of a photo taken at eye level

A few examples of my portraits produced from supplied photographs, showing graphite drawings, pastel pencils and oil paintings



If you would like a personal portrait of your pet, please get in touch today, and I will be happy to view any photographs you would like recreated in work of art!


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