To create the best pet portrait possible I need high quality photographs to work from. Below I have given you some tips on how to get the best photos for me to work from to create your pet portraits.
I need to work from high resolution photographs which show the unique details of your pet such as the fur, eyes, markings etc. I normally like 3 or 4 images to work from pointing out which one shows the most likeness to the colour and character. If you wish to email me photographs for a your pet portrait and you are not experienced in photographing pets here are a few tips previous clients have found useful.
- Photographs taken outside or by a large window are the best to avoid unnatural lighting and colouring of your pet.
- Try to avoid a really sunny day as the sun will create big shadows on your pet. This in turn can make certain details hard to see. The best sort of day for taking photographs is an overcast, but brightish day. People often make the mistake of thinking a sunny day is the best. As mentioned it can cause awkward shadows and cause your dog or horse to squint if looking into the sun.
- It always recommended to take photos with the sun behind you this will avoid the sun casting dark shadows across your pet and making certain details difficult to see.
- Take the photographs for your pet portraits at their level. This will avoid distortion and unnatural pose. For a head and shoulder portrait I often recommend the subject having a 3/4 pose rather than completely face or side on. However if you want a slightly quirky pose that is fine too. This is just what I think makes the best pet portraits. Of course it depends on what you are looking for.
- Try to get as close to your pet as possible and fill the cameras view finder. This will ensure you get more of the subject in than the background. Backgrounds can be added, but your pet is the focus so that is the most important part. I can super impose subjects on backgrounds. Try and make sure you keep in focus as this will give the maximum amount of detail and make painting the portrait easier as I can pick out the individual markings and details that make up your pets character.
- What camera? Phone cameras are so good now it is totally possible to produce a portrait taken from a phone photo. The same principles apply to any other camera you would use and make sure it is full resolution please. Remember it is worth taking as many photos as possible.
- Often people struggle because their subject won’t sit still. If possible take a friend with you so they can tempt them with a treat or similar while you take the photo. They beauty of this digital age we can take as many photos as we need without wasting film, so it really is worth keeping at it so you get the best photo possible for your pet portrait. For dogs, imitating a bark seems to work a treat. Even if you do feel a bit daft! Make it fun photographing your pet, as much as you can. For both of you! a tennis ball or favourite toy is often a winner for photoshoots. Just keep going and don’t give up. You will get that perfect photo.
Below you will see a couple of examples of what sort of photograph makes a good pet portrait. The quality of the photographs are essential for your pet portrait as I can only paint what I see!
This is a good example of a photo for a portrait. As you can see it is taken outside, there is no flash and it is clear and in focus. The subject fills the frame and there is plenty of detail for me to see. My client wanted the tack on the horse in the portrait. If you prefer not to have it a head collar lose runs their neck is easier remove than actually on. It is personal choice as to whether you have it on for the portrait or not. I love painting tack so if that’s what you want go for it!
Here is another good reference photo, this is of Maggie, a friends dog I painted and photographed. Again she is in focus, it was a large file so there was enough information for me to crop into her head and shoulders as that is what my client was looking for. If you are unsure it is best to provide a selection for me to work from. Ears and eyes and minor things can be edited to get the best portrait for you possible. Happy snapping.
Can I use my phone to take photos for my pet portrait? Yes, now the camera phones are brilliant. 5 or 6 years ago I probably would have said no, but technology has moved on so much now that most smart phones can take fabulous shots. The same tips apply to getting a good photo as with any camera. The beauty of digital is we can take as many was we want. I really say to my clients it is worth trying to get the best photo possible as it will reflect in the finished piece. I do work from old photos when I can, but where possible it is recommended to get the best photo possible.
Group Pet Portraits
I often get asked to group pet portraits and how to take the photographs for them. The most common question is do I have to take them together and the answer you maybe pleased to hear is, no!
I can comined many photos to create from two to 10 subjects in a portrait if you want! I know how hard it is to get one dog or cat to sit still and pull of a pose never mind two or more.
The same tips apply as to individual photographs, but to make sure when you photograph the other subjects the lighting and posing is consistent for all of them. One taken with flash and one without will look odd when put together in the same painting. One pet you are looking down on and the other up won’t look right next to each other.
Below for Jessie and Jool’s portrait you can see how I combined two photos to create the one portrait and how the lighting and posing was the same.
Here is the composition I came up for their portrait
You can see how I have combined the two for the portrait they wanted. Some group portraits want more than two subjects. I can either line them up like this or put a group of heads on a painting. Sounds odd, but it actually works well for clients who can’t get more photos as their pets have passed or the lighting and posing isn’t consistent.
Below you can see Jessie and Jools pet portrait completed.
Here you can see a group of head portraits I have completed for a previous clients.
So you can see group portraits are quite straight forward to put together, Don’t let the fact you have more than one pet to put you off.
Placing an order couldn’t be simpler with three easy steps. However, before I can proceed I do need to see the photographs that you wish me to work from to ensure they are clear enough for me to produce the best results. Photographs can be sent in digital format via email at high resolution so they can be printed clearly or on CD by post.
Send all hard copy photographs by post only but don‘t scan them as it can change the colour considerably. Please see above for some simple tips on photographing your pet. It is essential to have good photographs (see right photo) in order to create your pet portrait. All photographs will returned with the completed portrait.
If you would like me to come and personally photograph the subject(s) AND live within a 10 mile radius of Sevenoaks in Kent I am happy to visit for the cost of my travel.
Once I have checked the photographs and we agree on your requirements and delivery schedule I will ask for a 30 per cent, non refundable deposit of the agreed price.
I will then sketch out the initial outline of your pet portrait and send it to you via email or make it available for you to view online to check you are happy. If you wish I will send you up to two updates of ‘work-in-progress’ although once we have agreed the medium, style and format the majority of my clients prefer to wait for the completed painting.
On completion of your pet portrait I will ask for the balance which you can either pay by debit or credit card securely online through Paypal or by cheque through the post.
On receipt of payment (If you are paying by cheque I will wait for the cheque to clear) I will dispatch your finished pet portrait work using a reputable carrier, usually parcelforce or Royal Mail Special delivery. If you are local you are more than welcome to collect in person
Below are a couple of examples of the likeness I get with my pet portraits
This stunning Springer Spaniel was painted as usual in pastels. It was a challenge to get the concrete slabs looking accurate. I found it harder than his fur! You can see more dog portraits here
I love the name of this horse! He was called Splash, his portrait, again was completed in pastels and the background colour was selected to compliment his light bay colouring. You can see more horse portraits here
This was the second cat portrait I completed for my client. The first was of her lovely ginger tabby Applejack, the cat who loved to take a shower. This is Bakewell, and he was painted to the same size to go alongside Applejack’s portrait. You can view both cat portraits here.
Below you can see one of my delighted clients with their pet portrait. You can read the review here
If you are interested in a pet portrait then please contact me via the ‘Contact‘ section.
Please visit my prices page for an idea of how much you pet portrait will cost. I also have a selection of frames to choose from. I don’t carry any frames in stock, but if you let me know what style you might be after I will be happy to help you choose or send you a link to my frame suppliers website.
I am now offering time lapses of my pet portraits. It the moment I can do short clips of part of the pet portrait should you wish. If these prove popular I will be offering them for a small fee to go along with you portrait. They take a lot of time to edit and put together, but I think they make a lovely additional extra to that special gift.
Some of my clients who have had them have really enjoyed seeing how their pet painting has come together and to show you the sort of thing here is a short clip of one of the time lapses I have filmed recently. I hope you enjoy watching it come together. You can see more time lapses of my pet portraits on this page. I will be adding to it over the coming months.
Toffee 10×8 inch Dog Portrait
Here is my latest time lapse from Sarah’s Pet Portraits.
Milly, Cocker Spaniel Portrait. 11×9 inches.