Pet Photography

Pet Portraits Photography Tips

One of the first questions clients ask is “What kind of photos do you need for a portrait?” My reply will always be a good clear photo, above all, one that really, truly captures the personality and character of your pet well.

I work from one main photo of your pet, I can’t really make things up, so the photo has to be how you want the portrait to be.  I can change minor things on a case by case basis and if you would like my opinion on your photos contact me any time.

If you are providing me with a photo of your pet I have to rely on photographs, and these are the only way for me to get to know your pet. Often clients have a treasured photo that they really love, and I will always try my very best to work from that photo to create a portrait that’s special for you. If you are thinking about taking a photograph of your pet specifically for me to create a pet portrait, the information below might help.

If you would like to ask for advice please don’t hesitate to contact me at any time.

Taking Photos of your Pet for a Portrait

With the popularity and advantages of digital cameras, it’s so easy to be able to take many photos in one session and come out with at least one or two good photos for a portrait that you feel really capture your pet. There are no processing costs involved with digital photography, so my advice would be to keep snapping away until you are happy with your results. After all you can just delete them if you don’t like them! Sunny days are best to take photos of your pet, take as many photos around the garden as well as inside the house (using a flash) as seen in the photos below of Duke. I took about 40 photos of Duke in different poses, lying on the floor, sitting, standing. Try different things like food or their favourite toy which will help in capturing their attention and true personality.

Good clear photos of your pet

I cannot stress more than enough the importance of a good clear photo. As you can see in the below photos of Ruggie the owner sent me the left and middle photo of Ruggie as they liked this pose. Both these photos were not the best for a clear photo as I could not see Ruggies eyes plus the fine detail of his beautiful hair. As this portrait was done without the owners knowledge photos had to be sneaked out of the owners computer. Finally the third photo was supplied taken in natural sunlight and close up where I could see ruggies eye colour and hair.

A Relaxed Fun Photo shoot

The most important thing when photographing any animal is to make sure they are comfortable with the situation. All pets are different and perhaps different approaches are needed for each animal. For instance cats are pretty uncooperative and so setting the photography task over a period of a few days can help. Taking things one step at a time often helps your pet to relax. You might also like to ask a relative or friend to help, particularly if you are taking a photo of a dog, use a biscuit or treat to keep the dogs attention while you take the photos. Food is a great bribe and you’ll get lots of different expressions. Make sure you hold the food just above the camera so it looks like your pet is looking right into the lens and get down to your dogs level even if it means lying on the floor. This photo of Lucy (below) shows her true personality and doggie biscuits were used as well as “Walk” to get her looking excited. Lucy’s owner wanted her dog tag to show her name which was used from the photo on the right.

Getting up close and personal…

It’s often helpful for me to see some detailed shots of your pet, as you can see with this photo of my cat Adonis (below) I got quite close in with my camera and I also used the zoom so it didn’t distort the image. You can get pretty close to your pet and if you try to take your photos outside in the garden you will avoid using the flash which will ensure I can see the pure colour of their eyes. Also you may want to try different angles such as this photo of Adonis.

Choosing the right setting (lighting)

Photographing very dark or very light coloured pets can often be tricky as in photos they can often result in undefined blobs. As you can see in the photo of Adonis (bottom left) his face is dark and I can’t see his true markings, by getting the right light and angle I was able to get the pose on the right where later I cropped it and produced my oil painting portrait of him.. Natural light is ideal as long as you face your pet towards the light. Sometimes using flash can be helpful, it can help bring out the shine in the animals fur or coat. Don’t worry if the photos look too shiny or too bright, I can always tone this down in the painting or drawing. I always like to see a good range of photos so that I can judge the colouring and tone of your pet.

Positioning – Getting on your pets level

Many people tend to look down on their pets when they are taking photos – this is natural, and it is the way we see our pets most of the time. However the painting or drawing you commission will be displayed on the wall at eye level, so it makes much more sense to be taking the photo on their level. Photos taken from your pets’ eye level will help me produce a painting or drawing that will look perfect, in pride of place, in your home. To achieve perfect photos at the right level, you can either crouch or lie down when taking photos, or alternatively you could raise your pet up onto a table or bed to achieve the same result. When taking the photos imagine how the pose might look once framed and hanging on the wall. This photo of Teko (below left) was taken by the owner on his mobile as you can see it is not very clear. I can’t see Teko’s beautiful brown eyes and the photo is blurry. The photo on the right I took while she was sitting in her owner’s car.

Wait for the perfect moment

There will be times that you know will be easier to take photos of your pet – either when they have just woken up so they are raring to go and alert, or just before they have their tea and are hungry and will do anything for a treat. You will find that by waiting for the perfect moment you might be able to catch the specific look you are looking for, that perhaps shows your pets’ personality and character well. These can quite easily be captured with a little preparation and patience.  This one of Tinks (below) was taken at my local Café where she felt comfortable sitting on her owners lap. Another tip I find helpful is making dog noises like whimpering or barking will get you the best expression of your pet and taking lots of photos will surely ensure you get that perfect shot…

Photographs of pets that have passed away.

If sadly your pet has passed away and you have a very limited amount of photographs I am more than happy to see any photos, black and white / sepia or colour, even if you feel they might not be good enough for a portrait there are plenty of options. Photos do govern the size and medium of the portrait and it might be the case that you are unable to have a huge oil painting, however a lovely mid sized pastel or pencil drawing maybe suitable instead. I will always give you my advice and give you plenty of options to help in choosing what’s best for you. The photo below left is of my dearly departed cat Bronson and this photo was perfect for a pencil drawing. The photo on the right was supplied to me from a client that wanted to surprise her partner with a portrait of his beloved dog Joe. Here I used this photo and cropped around Joe as it was a very clear photo where I could see his eyes and hair direction.