Pet Portraits From Photos- 3 Things to Look For in a Pet Portrait Photograph
If you are thinking of commissioning a portrait or your pet, you will need a good quality photograph of them to use as your reference photo.
Most pet portrait artists (including me!) use photographs taken by their clients to create the final piece of artwork. This means the photos you provide are very, very important. One of my favourite hobbies is photography, so I feel I am well placed to give some decent advice, on not only what kind of photograph you need, but how you can take this photo yourself.
The number one thing I look for in a reference photo for creating a pet portrait is detail. Can I see the direction of the hair/fur, can I see the colours of the eyes?
How can I take a photo that means the detail is visible?
Firstly, you need to be in a well lit area, outside on a bright but overcast day is perfect.If you cannot go outside to take a photograph, find the most well lit area of the house. A good amount of light will help in the detail being visible. Ideally you want the light to be facing your pet, lighting up their face.
Secondly, you need to be taking the photo at the right distance from your pet. You want to be close to them, and do not use zoom, instead move closer. You want to only include the parts of your pet that are going to be drawn. If you are having a portrait of their head and neck, only include this in your photo, bringing yourself close enough that this is possible. if you are wanting a full body portrait only include your pet from head to toe. There is no need for there to be a wide expanse of background to be visible if this is not getting drawn/painted.
Your pet is going to be drawn in the exact position you provide in the photograph, so you need to make sure it is a composition you are happy with.
What is a good composition for a pet portrait?
Personally I think the one main thing that makes the difference between a good and bad composition for a pet portrait is the level at which the photograph is taken. So the first thing you can do is get down to the level or your pet, so the camera is at the same height as their nose for example. If you are unable to do this, another option is to bring your pet up higher, by sitting them on a chair or table. This means they are raised up to the height you want and you don't have to be getting down on the ground.
Once you are at the correct height you photographs will be much better for use in a pet portraiture. All you need to think about is where you want your pet to be facing. I personally like a 3 quarter view, with the pet looking off to one side. To do this you need to use a treat to get them to look where you want. You may need someone to help, but get them to hold the treat to get your pets attention once you are ready with your camera or smart phone and quickly snap the picture when they are looking where you want.
3. Sending it in the right format and size.
Once you have got your perfect photograph all you need to do is to send it to your chosen artist for their approval. Make sure when you send it you are sending the original image, and not a screenshot of the photograph. You need to send it in the original file size and it is not compressed to a smaller size.
So that is my 3 things you need to look for in a pet portrait reference photo, for commissioning a pet portrait. Hope this helps you in understanding what is needed in a photo and how you can create something suitable.
Got some great photos, why don't you email them to me to check out? If you're thinking about commissioning a custom portrait of your pet? I am a pastel pencil and coloured pencil portrait artist based in Derbyshire, I work entirely from photographs. If you are struggling to take a photograph and live near me in Derbyshire I can visit to take photographs myself. Check out some of my previous artwork here.