fine art pet portraits by commission

Pet Portraits from Photographs - Tips and Hints!

We have created a general photography tips page below along with dedicated pages for each subject which you can accessing using the links below. These depict live commissions showing the clients photos and portraits to give you a good idea of the kind of photos that are required. If you need to ask any questions, you are more than welcome to email us at any time.

Dog Photography Tips »

Horse Photography Tips »

Cat Photography Tips »

Photography Tips for a Pencil Portrait »

Notice to Artists / Web Designers. We have taken many hours of work to create this photography help page for our clients. The content is unique to us and addresses our clients photography issues. Sadly we regularly find our text and layout being duplicated in full or in part on other artists websites. If we see our text and layouts being used, we will notify you to alter.

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Mobile Phone, Tablet or Digital Camera?

Mobiles and tablets are very common, the majority of us have one or both on us at all times, they are so easy to use and handy to snap away at things in everyday life. Nicholas and I take photos of our dog Lily on our iPhones and iPads capturing the funny things she does daily and of course the photos so easy to share with friends and family. In the main, the photos that mobile devices produce are perfect as a memory of that moment in time and some mobiles these days have amazing capabilities.

The problem is not all mobile devices can produce a photo that is good enough to work from for a portrait. There are of course the exceptions depending on how close you are to the dog and the lighting conditions. You can see, from the example below however, the photos are of the same dog 'Cooper' from a previous clients commission. The photo on the left was a quick snap taken with a mobile, whereas the photo on the right was taken with a digital camera. From an artists perspective, it's easy to see which would be better to create a portrait from due to the clarity of the photo and the amount of detail present.

Our advice is that if you do have access to a digital camera, whether it's yours or you can borrow one from a friend and your pet is still alive, use the digital camera to take a wide range of photos so that you can be sure to provide us with the best possible photo for a portrait. Photos are key to a pet portrait, the better quality the photo, the better your portrait will be as we will be able to see everything more clearly.

If you only have access to a mobile or tablet, try to take photos of your pet in a good, natural light source, keeping your pet full in the frame to make the most of your devices camera lenses and capabilities.

example of photos comparing mobile, tablet and digital cameras


Getting on your pets level

Many people tend to look down on their pets when they are taking photos - this is natural, as it's often the way we see our pets in every day life. However the painting or drawing you commission will be displayed on your wall at your eye level, so it makes much more sense to be taking the photo on your pets level.

To achieve perfect photos at the correct level, you can either crouch down or lie on the ground (if you are able) when taking your photographs. Alternatively an easier option, if your pet is use to it, place them on a table or other stable surface to take photos. Also when viewing the photos you have taken, try to envisage how the pose might look once drawn or painted - plus framed and displayed on your wall.

The photos below were taken by a lovely client of ours, of the most gorgeous King Charles Spaniel called Lucy. You can see how the photo of Lucy looking straight into her beautiful brown eyes will make for a lovely portrait, much better than looking down on her.

looking straight at your pet on their level opposed to looking down at them when taking a photo.


Outside or by a window!

Try to take your photos outside if you can in natural lighting, a nice sunny or slightly cloudy day is the perfect opportunity for a photoshoot. If you are unable to take photos outside, taking pictures by a window or patio doors / French windows is also a great place. The more natural light the better, you can see by the examples below of Molly the lab. She also had her ears up and alert and everything is much more natural outside - perfect for a portrait.

Photographing very dark or very light coloured pets can often be tricky, so natural light is ideal as long as you face your pet towards the light. Don't worry if the photos look too shiny or too bright, we can always tone this down in the painting or drawing, remember to snap away and take plenty!

Take photos outside or in good lighting to avoid using flash.


Fill the view finder

As you can see from the photo below left, the photographer stood a few paces back and took a photo of their collie. Our clients were looking to have a painting of their collie head and chest. As you can see from the photo we cant really see any detail in the collies face, and even if you zoom into the head of the dog to see it in more detail, its going to be blurry as zooming in doesn't add more pixels, it just enlarging it digitally. To alleviate this problem, when taking photos, step forward, crouch down to be on the dogs level and try to fill the viewfinder with the dogs head and chest. An idea photo, of the same collie is below right.

Fill the frame with your pet!


Emailing Photos - Guide

This photo below is a wonderful photo of 'Chewy', a previous clients dog who modelled very well for his owner who was taking photos using a digital camera. The original file size of the photo was 2304 x 1728 pixels - the original file size of the photo.

When photos are emailed they can often be reduced in file size so that they can be emailed faster, however when we receive photos reduced to say 400 x 600 pixels, they come out like the image on the left. We would be missing out on a huge amount of detail when comparing the original file size. So if possible when you email the photos, please email them at their original size, we have a large inbox and can accept any size of image! If you need any help just let us know.

Send your photos at their original resolution!


Tack - or no Tack?

It is extremely difficult to remove head collars and tack when drawing or painting your horse so if you would like to see your horse in the portrait without, anything tack or head collar - the photos need to be taken without . Have someone to help you take photos as you will find it easier. Have a look at our horse portraits gallery at the horse portraits that we have been commissioned to paint or draw to give you an idea of how you would like to see your horse in a portrait.

Winter rugs and coats can also be a problem, taking photos with the rug right over the horses neck, can gives us problems as it is very difficult to make up what's underneath. Taking photos in the spring and summer is always best when they are in their prime and have their sleek summer coats.

Remember we cant always take out the tack when drawing or painting if you have photos of your horse wearing tack


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, someone with a biscuit or treat to keep the dogs attention while you take the photos, can be really handy.

Its often helpful for us to see some detailed shots of your pets. Try to use the zoom function on your camera so that it doesn't distort the image. 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.

On many occasions we are asked to paint pets that have sadly passed away and often clients have a very limited amount of photographs. We are 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 pencil drawing maybe suitable instead. We will always give you our professional advice and give you plenty of options to help you in choosing what's best for you. We would love to see your photographs and you are more than welcome to email them to us for our opinion at any time. We look forward to seeing them soon!


Ideal photo for a portrait

Pet Portraits from Photographs


Hi Melanie and Nicholas,
Just wanted to let you know how excited we are about Coal's portrait. I have him as my wallpaper on my phone and iPad and I have sent it to all who know him. Everyone is so impressed with it, not only for its beauty and dimensions, but also for how his personality has been captured. We cannot wait until the actual portrait arrives. If our copies are so impressive the real thing will be astounding. Thank you once again--I will let you know when it arrives. Fondly, Julie


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