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Taking photos of your dog for a pet portrait : Do’s and Don’ts

My King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, Mona, has posed for us to help demonstrate how to get the best photos for your pet portrait.

  1. Take photos outside.

    Cloudy days are ideal and you can shoot at anytime during the day. If it’s sunny out, it’s best to plan to photograph around an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset. Give yourself around 30 minutes for a photo session. The first image of Mona below is from a huge image file, but it’s a blurry image without a lot of detail because it was taken inside.

    photography don't for pet portrait

    Photo taken inside

    photos for a pet portrait painting

    Photo taken outside

  2. Get on your pets level.

    Though my ten year old Mona does look awfully cute and puppy like in the first image below, images taken from above distort the body and feel kind of generic. I find images shot from closer to a dogs eye level feel more intimate and show a clearer picture of who your unique furry friend is.

    photography don't for pet portrait

    photographed from above

    photos for a pet portrait painting

    Image taken from Mona’s eye level

  3. Get up close.

    The first shot below looks great at first glance, but it’s shot from too far away. When zooming in on the face, you can see that the fine details are lost. Capturing the little details if part of what makes your portrait special and if the detail isn’t in the photo, I can’t paint it.

    Photo taken from far away

    photography don't for pet portrait

    Far away image zoomed in

    Photo taken up close

    photos for a pet portrait painting

    Up close image zoomed in

  4. Light up their eyes.

    A little light reflected in the eyes gives your pet a lively alert expression. Mona looks like she’s kind of sad or very sleepy without that light. Even on a cloudy day you should be able to get a reflection. If you’re having trouble, try to position the sun behind you.

    photography don't for pet portrait

    No reflection in the eyes

    photos for a pet portrait painting

    Reflection in Mona’s eyes

  5. Take lots of photos.

    When trying to get the perfect shot, I took over sixty images. Be patient and try lots of different angles. Block out 30 minutes to take photos and even if you feel like you got the perfect image 5 minutes in, keep shooting for the entire time.

  6. Get a helper.

    Not all dogs are as docile as Mona and having someone there with toys and treats helping pose your dog is a tremendous help.

  7. Bonus tip.

    Don’t forget to brush your dog’s hair! Mona had some tangles I missed before we took our photos. ūüėČ

I look forward to seeing your images!! If you’re having trouble or if you’re unable to get new photos, contact me. Good luck!

Visit my Pet Portraits gallery to see some of my past pet portraits and see my tips for taking photos of your cat for a portrait. And now I’m going to have to make a portrait of Mona! Check back in a few months to see which image I end up choosing.

On the Easel in June

Black-cat-in-progress

Black Cat in progress – experimenting with background treatments

Despite my hungry little bundle joy, (i.e. my adorable, two¬†month old son Isaac), June is off to a great¬†start in the studio.¬†Here’s a peak at four¬†little paintings I’m working on right now.

The first of the lot is of Jolly Rajah, the black cat. I actually started this one months ago as an experiment related to the monthly miniature series (I considered a series of black cats). I had considered this little one¬†finished, and originally it featured a window with a tree in the background. But it didn’t seem right to me, and I ended up going with the Into the Country idea instead. After contemplating it for a while, I’m reworking this little guy. I’m trying out a simplified background now, working¬†to define his features a bit more, and also¬†to create a stronger focal point¬†at his lovely eyes.

I love the beautiful little 1920’s brass¬†and celluloid¬†miniature frame I have for it, so I’m hoping to salvage the painting. I’m also hoping that working through this painting, will help me get a better idea of what will work in the fourteen remaining frames I’ve been collecting in this style. Here’s a link to the finished painting!

 

Oliver-in-progress

Commission In Progress

I love painting animals, but I have to admit to a special soft spot for dogs

This little guy is my top priority in the studio right now. He’s the first of my¬†June Miniature Pet Portrait Specials¬†and will be completed in time for a special¬†occasion. I have added a couple coats of paint since taking this photo, and I plan to have it finished by the end of the week so it can be shipped out to its new home right away.¬†

 

miniature rabbit paintings in progress

Rabbit Couple in progress

Rabbits for a group show in October at Childhood’s End Gallery

I told you there would be more rabbits! It’ll be hard to separate these two paintings, and I’m considering selling them as a pair. Once they’re finished, they’ll go¬†in¬†a lovely pair of matching antique frames I’ve been saving for just the right couple. I’m planning on three or four more rabbit portraits and will be on the lookout for new models! Contact me if you have a willing bunny!