How to ensure you have good quality images for good quality pet portraits and wildlife art
Find easy to follow instructions of how to take the perfect shot for your pet portrait. The images will also serve as a guide as to whether or not that favourite image you have tucked away is suitable. In general terms, the clearer and more detailed your reference image is, the better your portrait will be as I will be able to see fine detail and can then produce a highly accurate pet portrait for you to treasure. Please browse through the images below, they will give you an idea of what would make a good reference image for a pet artist and what would not. These are my own photos and not all of my attempts are successful, in fact far from it. For the perfect shot all you need is a little know how, some patience and lots of bribes, sometimes a second pair of hands is useful for distraction too! If you are unsure whether or not your favourite image is suitable for a pet portrait, just upload them on the form at the bottom of the page and I will offer you no obligation advice.
- Take your photos in good daylight, bright sunshine will reflect too much, try mid morning or mid afternoon. The light will bring out all the details of your subject. If you are taking photos indoors, try not to use a flash as this will create too many highlights and shadows, try to catch your subject near a window for a more natural coloured photo.
- Eyes, features and fur should be clear. Remember the better the image, the better the portrait. This photo shows the shadows but they are not so dark as to be just black and plenty of detail is still visible which would make this a great reference photo.
- If you want your subject to be looking at you in the portrait, encourage them with a biscuit or their favourite toy above the camera, they will be looking in exactly the right position for this. This isn't my dog so his owner stood behind me so he would be looking in the right direction. If you want your subject to be looking off into the distance, their owner should be off camera in the direction required.
- Aim to be at eye level with the subject, this will create a more natural position of the subject and their head will not appear distorted. If you have a small pet and you find it difficult to reach ground level with it, simply lift it up onto a table or bench if this is easier.
- In the age of the digital camera, you can take as many photos as needed without having them all printed out. Remember to be patient and put your subject at ease. I take photos all the time and only a small percentage are ever exactly as I want so if you don't get that perfect image straight away, just keep trying, take a rest and go back later, it really is worth the effort to get a good reference image.
- If all else fails and you can meet me in the Forest of Dean area or near Ross-on-Wye at a pre-arranged time, I can take your photos for you, just ask for this service, which is free of charge.
A few more good reference images, the double image on the left was a really lucky shot. I met the father of the owner of Isa and Glynn to take photos myself as he had struggled to capture them. We tried individual shots but neither was very keen (I can use seperate images to create multi-subject portraits) but once we started chatting and forgot we were taking photos, they sat down together and a noise in the undergrowth caught their attention and I was lucky enough to still be sat on the floor and took this photo which proved a brilliant reference shot which was used to create a special surprise Christmas present. Apparantly it has pride of place in their house now.