fine art dog pet portraits by commission

Dog Portraits Photography Tips and Tricks For Pet Portraits

If you are visiting our dog photography pet portraits tips and tricks page, you must be thinking about commissioning a dog portrait in oil or pencil from us. Clients first step when thinking about commissioning a dog portrait is to look at a range of photos they already have, to see if any are suitable for a dog portrait. If you feel they aren’t quite good enough, new photos would be your next step and our photography tips page should help. For clients who’s dogs have sadly passed away, have a look at our photography tips and tricks below to give you an idea of photos we work with for our pet portraits. We are always happy to view your pet photos and let you know what we can create from them. If you are able to take new photos of your pet, follow our helpful guide as it should give plenty of information to start clicking away. We have chosen one of our clients commissions as an example to show photos that we worked with along with our painting below.

Dog Portraits Photography - Which Camera ?

It's so easy these days to take a quick snap of your dog with a mobile phone, we are constantly snapping pics daily. When we are out and about on a beach or a cliff walk, my iPhone is always in my back pocket and I am forever taking photos of my dog Lily as a memento. They are handy and so many of us have them available at all times. Mobile phone cameras are getting better and better as years go by, however they still aren't as good as using a digital camera by any means. If you have access to a digital camera or can borrow one from friends or family, this would ideal if you were embarking on taking new photos.

If you only have access to a mobile or tablet, there are a few photography tips and tricks you can use to get the most out of your devices. My first and biggest snippet of advice would be to always take photos of your dog outside in natural daylight. Mobile and tablet lenses do struggle in low light and you can easily end up with a grainy and shaky, slightly blurry photos. A clients photos below of Jack were both taken using a old iPhone 4 camera phone and you can see many differences between both photos immediately. The clients photo left is a little dark and grainy, whereas the right has picked up Jack's flecks in his coat really well. This is all down to being outside in natural light. Another tip would be to step forward to get closer to your subject, rather than using a 'pinch zoom' feature. A zoom on most mobile device uses a digital zoom, the further you zoom in, sadly less detail and pixels there are in the photo. Finally a good tip is - don’t be afraid to take as many photos as you can - you can always delete them. Doing a photography shoot and taking as many photos as you can means you can pick your favourite one for a pet portrait.

dog photography tips

Dog Portraits Photography - Get in Close to your subject

Following on from our tips and tricks above about stepping forward and zooming, whether you want a head study or a full body it's important to fill the frame with your dog. This can make all a lot of difference to the photos quality. We are unable to work from the photo below left as Jack is too far out in the scene to see any detail. Tricks to avoid this is that you can either step closer to your dog - or use your optical zoom on your digital camera. Or why not do both! Try to fill your viewfinder with your subject.

If you are looking to have a full body portrait it might be an idea to take a photo of your dog full body, fill the camera frame with the whole of your dog making sure not to cut any limbs or tails out of the scene. A pro tip which would make our life as painters much easier would be to get close enough to fill the whole dogs body in the frame and take a photo. Then immediately zoom into your dogs face without moving and take another photo. By following this procedure, we as artists will have a great full body photo to work from, along with a very highly detailed photo of your dogs face.

If you know that you want to have a head portrait study for your pet portrait, fill the photo frame with your dogs head, similar to the photo below right. This will retain as much detail as possible and will help us in creating the best possible pet portrait for you.

dog photography tips

Dog Portraits Photography - Choosing a time in your dogs life

Many clients who’s pets have passed away or who are in their dotage, have to make difficult decisions as to which kind of photo they would like to use for the basis of the portrait. They have a lot of choice of portraying their dog at a young age, middle aged or as they remember them in later years when they are older and perhaps with a few more grey hairs. It can be an extremely difficult choice as each set of photos will hold different memories. Ultimately it needs to be a photo that makes you smile when you look at it and one that brings back happy memories of your dog. Three photos below show the family dog Jack in three different stages of his life and each photo would work as a painting in its own right. The choice is entirely up to clients in which they would prefer to have portrayed. If you just can't choose which photo to use, perhaps you can opt for my pencil montages which gives clients an opportunity in having a central study with four outer studies, which could capture them at various ages.

dog photography tips

Dog Portraits Photography - The photo and mockup of Jack

Our client decided to choose a photo that captured Jacks enthusiasm for life, his shiny eyes and his colouring when he was younger. We did a number of mockups using a range of photos our client emailed. Working together with the client via email, they asked if it would be possible to work from their photo below left. This is an unusual composition as it was taken looking down on Jack. However in this particular instance, it was possible to omit Jack's back and back leg when painting and create an illusion Jack was on our eye level. You can see a mockup below right.

dog photography tips

Dog Portrait of Jack

Here is Jack's completed dog portrait in oils on Italian linen canvas traditionally hand painted by Nicholas Beall at 12 x 10 size. If you require any help in choosing photos for your dog portrait, just drop us a line and email us your photos and we will give you our professional help and advice. We look forward to working with you soon.

dog photography tips


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