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Pet Portrait Photo Tips

When commissioning a pet portrait, it’s important to supply the best photographs that you can.

You may supply multiple images for further reference though I need at least one clear photo of your pet to work from. This is to make sure that the proportions and colours are consistent and realistic.

Please take a look the guidelines below for some suggestions that I hope help you to take a lovely photographs for your pet portrait.

Watercolour pet portraits from photos

1. Relax and take your time

Sometimes it’s simply not the right time to take a good photo, due to weather or your pet’s mood so keep a camera on-hand (and charged!) for when the time is right. It’s not always easy to get a good shot but try not to get frustrated as your pet will pick up on it and you won’t capture your pet’s best side. So before you start, make sure that you and your pet are relaxed and happy!

Gifts for dog lovers

2. Enlist help

Having someone to help – either in playing with or distracting your pet, whilst you get the perfect snap or vice versa, can be really useful. It’s very difficult to wave toys or pull faces at a pet when you’re face is behind a camera lense so if you can get a friend of family member to help, it’s definitely worth doing,

Pet portraiture from photos UK

3. Use your best camera and take lots of photo’s

Most cameras have a pretty good resolution these days but it’s worth testing out those in your household to see which are capable of producing the best photographs for your pet portrait. As they are also mainly digital it’s worth taking as many photo’s as you can and then selecting the best. Pets have a habit of fidgeting, turning their heads, licking their paws etc. etc. so it can be a case of just taking lots of snaps and hoping for a couple of good ones.

Spaniel dog portraits

4. Lighting

Lighting is an important factor to consider when photographing your pet. Outdoor, natural light works best but you could also try taking your photo by a large window or in a conservatory. Avoid using your flash as it will often end in red-eye and has a tendancy to distort the colours. You’d most likely only get one shot too – as pets don’t enjoy the flash of a camera.

Cat portrait from photo

5. Get up close, stay steady and shoot from eye level

Getting close to your pet is a good idea, as you will take a higher resolution photograph with more detail from which I can paint your pet portrait. It’s not always essential but lowering yourself to your pet’s eye-level will usually result in a better photograph. You will capture the form, without strong foreshortening and it also helps bring out the character of your pet as a friend ‘on your level’. Try to get comfortable and steady to minimise wobbles and then take your snaps.

Pet portrait artist UK

6. Bribe and entertain your pets

It may sound obvious but pets love treats and having a supply of small tasty treats to dish out throughout the shoot will usually make your session a lot easier. You can also gain your pet’s attention with toys and keep it in one place long enough to gain the shot. A happy pet will make a better photograph and therefore portrait too.

Commission a dog portrait painting UK

7. Keep quiet and move slowly

This is perhaps more important when photographing cats but is also applicable to some dogs. Cat’s seem to have an almost supernatural sense of knowing what you want them to do – and then doing just the opposite! Make sure you maintain a relaxed posture and almost remain aloof. as opposed to stalking / creeping up on your pets, as much of an animal’s understanding comes from body language. Anyone who’s ever needed to take the cat to the vet, will know just how easily their sixth-sense can be triggered!

Cat portrait artist UK
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