I really can’t stress enough how important it is to have a clear photograph of your pet for me to work from. It is vital, as I have never met your pet and I really need to be able to see the eyes clearly and get the feel for the character of your pet. The eyes are the window to the soul. For local clients I can come and meet you and your pet and take photos for you. However many of my clients are from far and wide, all around the world and therefore your photos are the only way I can meet them! Below is a guide for taking photos of your dog, cat, horse or any other animal you would like a portrait painted of.
I need a photograph that is clear, up close (fill the view finder with your pet, not your house or garden!) and is of a pose that is typical of your pet. To achieve this the following guide helps you get the photo you want.
Pet portrait lighting
The best possible lighting is achieved outside or by a window in a bright room like a conservatory. A bright overcast day is best. No sunshine. Sunshine will make your pet squint and not show the true colours. When outside, stand with your back to where the sun would be behind the cloud and have your pet facing you. This gives the maximum natural light to your pet. See below a photo taken with the light that is behind a cloud and is behind me. This is particularly important for pets that are black or white. If the lighting is too strong the camera can’t cope with these colours and there will be areas on the face that are black with no detail. The same with white pets, they will show bleached out.
If you have to take a photograph of your pet indoors, usually this is the case with cats as they are hard to capture outside!!!. Then take the photograph in a bright room or preferably a conservatory. Stand with your back to the window and have your cat or dog face you. This will give maximum light on them. The photograph of the dog below I took at a clients house in a bright room.
This next photo shows a dog that was photographed in a clients conservatory. She was facing maximum light and I had my back to the windows to the garden. This light was excellent for this type of photograph.
The best position for your dog is to have them sitting up. Have yourself right down at the same level as your dog. Photos looking down at them don’t look right and they will be looking up at you, which means we will be looking up their nose!. If need be, lay down to be at the same level. It’s a good idea to have someone next to you (right by your shoulder and at the same level as you) with a favourite toy or sweetie, or to say a word that gets your dog to look interested. Get them to hold a treat by your ear. I find this gets the dog to pose in just the right angle. This pose is better than face on, or completely side view. The photo below is of my own dog and I held a treat at the height I wanted him to look at. You will see how close I had got to him. This is ideal for a head/neck study or head/chest study pet portrait painting.
If you wanted a full body dog portrait or part body dog painting, the photo below illustrates this. He could be sitting up or laying down as shown below.
When taking photos of horses, try not to be in a position where you are looking up his nose!. If you have a dark coloured horse, be careful not to take the photo against a dark stable doorway. We could loose the mane in the background! Bring the horse out into the yard or field and stand with your back to where the light is coming from behind the clouds. A bright overcast day is best, no sunshine. Have the horse facing the light.
Cats can be difficult to photograph! If you can get a photo of them outside, that is preferable. If it is a head study cat portrait you would like, then to make it easier you can get someone to hold the cat in their arms, making sure they don’t have their hands near the cats neck. If you would like a full body cat portrait and can’t take photos outside, then indoors in a bright room near the window is best. Have your back to the window and the cat facing you. I know cats love laying in the sun! but no sunshine is preferable. The three photos below show the ideal lighting and clarity that I need to create your stunning cat portrait.
It’s a good idea to get several photos over a period of a couple of days, as we wouldn’t want your pet to look fed up!
None of these photos above were taken with professional cameras. They were taken with the latest smart phone cameras. Cameras on todays iphones/smart phones are excellent for taking photos of your pets.
I hope these tips will help you achieve the photos you would like me to work from. It is important to me to do them justice and your patience in getting those lovely photos will be worth it I promise!
I very much look forward to hearing from you and to painting a portrait of your beloved pet. You can contact me from my contact page. Portraits of dogs, cats, horses or any other animals are a wonderful gift too for a loved one. I also supply Gift Certificates for an ideal gift.