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  • Writer's pictureAmy Elizabeth Fine Art

Pet Portraits from Photos UK- What photo is right for a pet portrait?

Pet portraits from photos are the main way of getting a pet portrait commissioned. If you are thinking of commissioning a portrait of your pet, the chances are your pet portrait artist will be working from photos taken by you. So, what makes a good photo?

I am a keen photographer and one of my favourite subjects is my dog Monty. So when it came to using photos of him to create my own schnauzer pet portrait of him, you would think I had plenty to choose from? Well, no not really. What makes a nice photo for your wall, may not be suitable for working from when creating a pet portrait. Every time I have done my own portrait of Monty I have taken photos specifically for me to work from.

What makes a good photo for a pet portrait from photos?

So lets start with the technicalities. The clearer the photograph, the more of the detail is visible. The more detail that can be seen in the photo, the more detail that can be put into the portrait.

So what would you deem a highly detailed photo? I would describe a highly detailed photo as one where the direction of the hairs can be seen in all the areas that are going to be drawn on the pet portrait. The direction of the hairs on a pet is important because hair direction makes up the shape of the head and body. If you look at your pet, whether you have a dog, cat or horse, hairs will change direction in all areas of the body, especially on the face, around the eyes.

The eyes are an important thing to think about too, as they make a big impact on the final portrait. A photo where the light is in their eyes so the colours can be seen is ideal.

How do I take a photo that is detailed enough for commissioning a pet portrait from photos?

There are 2 key aspects of taking a photo that is detailed enough. The lighting and how close you are to the subject.

Good lighting helps all the details get picked up by the camera, so it is a good idea to go outside to take your photo. A bright but overcast day is ideal.

You need to be closer than you think to take the photograph of your pet. You should not use zoom. You want the area that you want drawing to fill your screen when taking the photo. You may only need to be about a foot away from your pet.

To read more about taking a photo of your pet on a smartphone for commissioning a pet portrait click here. I show you in this blog post how you should be positioned with your phone and also how your pet should be positioned.

What kind of composition is best for commissioning a pet portrait from photos?

Some of this is up to personal preference. How would you like to see your pet positioned in your portrait? However, there are a few things to consider. Photos taken down on your pets levels tend to look best. You do not want a portrait of the top of your pets head!

Personally, I like photos to work from when the pet is in a three quarter position, so is facing slightly left or slightly right.

Here you can see in this photo I have taken of my dog Monty, he is angled facing slightly to one side. I like this composition and the photo is highly detailed. Can you see the way the hairs change direction? I can see the beautiful colour of his eyes and a nice bit of reflection in them too, which always looks good in the final pet portrait, as it gives the eyes a bit of life.

Other compositions can work well. I sometimes like photos from above the pet if they are then looking up towards the camera. This works best in full body pet portraits though as you need the rest of the body to give the face context.

Here is an example of a photo of a dog for a full body pet portrait. You can see the direction of the fur in all areas, with the colours of the fur and eyes all accurate. The subject has good lighting and a nice composition, with the dog level with the camera. The head is positioned in a three quarter position, with both eyes visible. It is a pleasing composition that works nicely showing off the dog to its best.

What do I do with my pet portrait photos once I have taken them?

Once you have taken some photos of your pet you like and think would be suitable for using in commissioning a pet portrait, what you need to do is send them to me in full size. This means when you attach them to an email and it says "do you want to send these photos in full size" you need to click yes. This means they won't get compressed and lose any of the detail you have captured in your pets photos.

The better your photos of your pet, the more options are open to you in terms of sizing. The better the photos the bigger the portrait can be. So once you have photos we can work together to work out exactly what kind of portrait we will create of your pet.

I hope this guide to describe what kind of photos are suitable for a pet portrait has been helpful. Every pet portrait artist that works from photos will tell you the better the photo, the better the portrait. So it is worth taking the time to get the best photos possible.

I am a pet portrait artist from Derbyshire, I specialise in pastel pet portraits from photos taken by my clients. To get in touch for a no pressure chat about your pet portrait requirements, head over to my contact page here, which gives you a range of methods to get in contact.

If you want to read more on pet portrait photography I have a range of blog posts on the subject, which can be found here.


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