Capturing a great photo of your pet is the first step in getting an amazing painted pet portrait!
When you hire me to paint a custom portrait of your pet, quality reference material is the key to an amazing finished painting!
There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. When I'm painting a memorial portrait, I know the customer can't follow my guide to capture an ideal photo, and that's OK. In those cases, I simply ask for as many photos as you can provide, from a variety of angles, and I create a great portrait anyway. I've even painted a portrait of two best buddy dogs together when one passed and their owner realized he'd never captured that "perfect" photo of the two dogs together.
Barring that unavoidable scenario, there's no reason you (yes, YOU!) can't capture a fabulous photo of your pet by following a few easy guidelines. This may even change the way you photograph your pets from now on!
Read on for my fail-safe guide to photographing your pet, and when you're done, be sure to visit my Pet Portraits page for information on ordering a painting created from your beautiful photo!
1. Get down to "pet level"
Photos taken from "human" height tend to look down on your pet, and that results in awkward photos. Get down on the ground yourself for some great angles right at eye-level with your pet. You'll be surprised how much better your photographs turn out with this simple adjustment in angle!
Tip: prop a treat up on top of your camera to encourage your pet to look towards the camera with a bright, eager expression!
2. Take your photos at the highest quality level your camera or phone offers
I can paint with great detail if the detail exists within the reference photo itself. Fuzzy, low-quality, grainy or pixelated photos don't give me a lot of fine detail to work with. Zoom in on the photos as you take them to make sure they're focused, crisp and full of all of that great detail I love to reference in the paintings themselves!
3. Light is your friend when taking photos of your pet!
Both overly dark photos, taken in deep shadows or dark homes, or overly bright photos with glaring sun, can destroy the subtle shadows and highlights that give the best result in your final photo. However, soft, natural light is wonderful! One great way to achieve this indoors is to take the photo by a glass door or large window, which will allow the light to softly wash over your pet for a beautiful effect.
Tip: Pro photographers call the time shortly after sunrise and right before sunset 'The Magic Hour" because the light has a gorgeous, soft, gold-to-red glow. If you can take a photo of your pet outside at this time, nature will provide you with absolutely stunning light!
4. Avoid these common errors
See below some examples of what not to do when photographing your pet: