Getting the Best Photo of Your Pet for a Portrait

If you are trying to get the very best photo of your pet which will result in a great portrait, there are some basic concepts to keep in mind.

Many people choose to have professional photography done. That is always a possibility, but with a little patience and preparation,  you can really enjoy capturing the perfect picture for a portrait yourself. Remember you know your pet better than anyone.

Have fun and don’t rush. Take plenty of pictures. And don’t worry! No matter what the quality of the photo, I will work with you on exactly what you want in your final custom oil painting. Here are some hints:


  • Outside is the best possible light. Of course, safety is always an issue, but try to take your pet into nature. If it is not possible to go outside, place your pet near a large window with plenty of natural light coming from behind or slightly to the side of you as you face the pet.
  • Avoid direct sunlight, as it can alter natural coloring and increase contrast between shadow and light, hiding some features. A bright, but overcast day is the best situation.
  • Don’t use a flash as it can distort your pet’s true coloring. An exception to this is a pet with a black coat. In this case, a flash may bring out shading and texture that might be lost in a photo with natural light.


  • Take your pictures at your pet’s level. Don’t have the pet look up unless that is the way you want the portrait to appear. Go to them instead of having them come to you. Let them relax in a part of their world where they are most comfortable. Sit on the grass or lie on the floor as you take the photo. Whatever it takes. This is especially important for full body shots which look best from the side rather than from above.
  • Take plenty of facial shots. Have their face fill the frame while still in sharp focus. Try some three-quarter views as well as from the fringe, as a slight angled pose can sometimes make a beautiful portrait .
  • If your pet will not sit still, have someone hold them in position. If these pictures are solely for the portrait, then the individual’s body parts can be removed from the portrait. Just make sure they don’t cover an important marking.


  • Make sure  your pet is comfortable and at ease. Cameras can be distracting. If you can’t get your pet to behave normally, enlist the aid of someone else to keep them engaged.
  • Capture the most characteristic expression and pose of your pet. If they are generally happy, try to catch them doing their version of a smile.
  • A good idea is to have a favorite treat or toy on hand. Hold it by the camera, and try to direct their interest in the right direction.  Don’t be afraid to act silly.

The quality of any portrait that any painter creates from a photo that you provide depends on the quality of that photo. If you do your best to make sure the image isn’t blurred by movement and that the image, whether the entire body or just the head, fills the frame, then the portrait that results will be optimal because it won’t require any guesswork on my part.

I would love to create a custom oil painting for you of a beloved companion—fur, feathered or finned. You can either complete this form to order your own painting or contact me via email or call me at (214) 405-1834

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