Why are the Photographs so Important
This is one of the most important things for me, for fairly obvious reasons. The main reason being I can only paint what I see. I need to be able to see the detail in your dogs eye, the stripes on your tabby cat and the wrinkles in your pony’s nose. I need to be able see the character of your pet so I can make sure I capture that in your pet painting.
I dont like to turn people away, but sometimes the reference photos can be so poor it is literally impossible for me to get any information or detail from them. Often this happens when people are coming to me for pet portraits of their much loved deceased animal. I know it is not something that will have necessarily crossed someones mind while their dog or horse was alive, so I will always try where I can.
When I first started out with pet portraits it certainly wasnt as easy to get decent photos. Not everyone had a digital camera and camera phones were just awful. Now with the leaps and bounds technology has made in the last 17 years it most people should have a decent camera even if it is just on their phone.
How To Take Good Photographs for your Pet Portrait
Photographs need to be taken on your dog’s level, so if you have a small dog I am afraid it is on your knees you go!
Please don’t use flash, it is horrible and changes the colour of the dog/cat/rabbits fur and can cause glare on their eyes. Outside on a bright but overcast day is perfect. Sunny is fine too, but please make sure you photograph with your back to the sun and making sure your pet isn’t squinting.
It is always good to have an extra pair of hands, either to hold your dogs collar, rattle a bucket of nuts to make your horse prick their ears forward or squeak a toy. Try to make sure your dog isn’t straining against the collar, but don’t worry about someone else being in the photograph I can work round a human in the background. Or anything else for that matter.
When photographing your horse, think whether you would like the bridle included or not in the portrait. I can work round them but it is easier not have it on if you don’t want it included. Often it is easier to slip a head collar round their neck while having them tethered if you prefer them to be wearing nothing.
If you are looking for a group portrait then please don’t worry about them all sitting together perfectly. You may be there a very long time if you wait for that. As long as the photographs are taken the same angle and lighting. So for example you dont want one dog looking up and one looking down, or you take one photograph at a totally different height to the other one. I do underatand that this in not always possible, but I can take the photos you have and put them together in photoshop and create the best composition possible with the photographs we have.
Can I take the Photographs?
Yes I would be delighted to take photographs for you, if you live in a 10 mile radius of Sevenoaks, Kent. I can travel further, but I would have to charge for petrol. Alternatively you can bring your dog to me. A cat or a horse might be a bit tricky! I have lovely fields and ssettings around me for a photoshoot. I also have a very good digital camera as photograph is one of my hobbies when I get a chance to so I can usually get very good quality photos to work from.
Photographs for Backgrounds
Often clients ask about scenic backgrounds to their pet portraits. I can either add one that suitable or, as often is the case, especially with dog portraits, my clients want a background that is familiar to themselves or their dog. In that case I ask for people to take a photograph of that view point and I can see if I can incorporate it in the compostion. This isn’t always possible, but again I always try my best to accomodate my clients requests.
Whilst most of talk about digital, it maybe that the photo you love was taken on a film camera, that doesnt matter as long as the print is good enough. I have created plenty of dog portraits from traditional photographs. I do, however prefer these to be posted to me rather than scanned. I totally understand these are precious items and I would recommend at minimum recorded delivery. I will take great care of your photos and all will be returned with completed pet painting.
Digital Images: File size. Please set your camera to full resolution. The bigger the better. They can always be emailed over a few emails if you are worried about them clogging up the interweb! Or there are various other platforms for transfering large images now. Wetransfer is free and doesn’t require an account or there is dropbox and Google Drive to mention a few others. Alternatively a memory stick or CD in the post. I think my laptop has a cd drive. Crazy that even these aren’t being used much anymore.
Last but not least, take lots! Keep snapping and don’t worry if you don’t get the perfect photo straight away. It really is better to be patient an get the best possible photo of your pet for the portrait. We are in the digital era sand we can scrap bad quality photos at no cost!