How To Photograph Your Pet For Portraiture

Here are some ideas of how to photograph your pet that would ultimately make a wonderfully interesting and beautiful portrait:

Emmah the Dog Painting

Get on the level of your subject. Photographing from above causes lens distortion and makes for a lousy portrait. A finished piece should not look like there was a camera involved at all.

Lighting is everything. Photographing at the break of dawn or right before the sun sets enhances the subject ten-fold. There is nothing like the beautiful soft lighting sparkling in their eyes. Better yet, see if you can get the subject back lit. This creates a dramatic effect.

Be Candid. They don’t always have to “smile for the camera” just like some of our better pictures turn out better when we’re not looking at the camera.

Xoey, a side view portrait in pastels of a cat

Youth Is Overrated. Some people believe if the pet is advanced in age it won’t make for a good portrait. On the contrary, the golden years can shine brilliantly in a portrait.

painting- Awaiting Morning's Ride

To Crop or Not to Crop? If it all possible, leave the cropping up to the artist, but don’t sweat it if you’ve come in too tight on a photo. Sometimes dramatic crops create – well, drama!

Multiples. Try to stay down low and be okay with it if they are not sitting perfectly side-by-side. I shot three dogs all in the same lighting and put them together myself in the portrait.

Beauty Is In The Eye of The Beholder. Unusual can be quite beautiful.

Get Creative! Put them in front of a mirror and see what they do!

Props. Using props and toys can be interesting and fun. However they can also become an overwhelming distraction that will need to be painted out of the picture, so be careful here.

Finally. Remember DO NOT stand over your pet. Get on their level!

More samples are available on my Facebook page.