Pet Portrait Photography Guide

A short guide on taking the very best picture of your pet.

In general terms, the clearer and more detailed your reference image is, the better your portrait will be. However if you are in possession of some old photos and you don’t think they are up to scratch I am always able to improvise so please drop me an email and I will be more than happy to give you my recommendations for a Portrait.

The images below will give you an idea of what would make a good reference for a portrait and what would not. These are all my own photos and not all attempts are successful so it is always a good idea to spend some time taking your pictures over a few days to get that perfect shot.

LIGHT

Natural daylight reflects the best quality colours of your pet, try and get a shot of them in the garden as opposed to indoor lighting as this can leave your pet looking yellow, try and avoid using the flash option on your camera as this can leave red eyes and produce dark shadows. A bright cloudy day makes for best Photography, direct sunlight can also work to your disadvantage leaving dark shadows like a flash so it is always best to work in the shade if you cannot avoid this.

The picture of Spike below (left) is a great example of the above, the picture is good but as he is in direct Sunlight you can see his eyes are covered in shadow, it is always a good idea to get some shots in a shaded stable (right).

light

PERSPECTIVE

As with all animal pictures perspective is something you really need to consider, the best portraits are produced from eye level so if you can get down with them in the garden this works best. The other option would be to pop them on a chair and bring them up to you, if however you are taking a picture of a larger animal your best bet is to stand on a object so you are eye level. 

perspective1

The above picture shows Treacle taken from above not a very good example, she looks much better in the picture below which was taken from eye level which gives a good representation of her features.

perspective2

Although Treacle is not outside she is sitting in her basket next to a large window letting in natural light, this is another good trick if you don’t want to go outside. Always try to take pictures with the light source behind you or slightly from the side taking care not to place a shadow on the subject.

DETAIL

Try to capture enough in focus detail in the photograph and where the animal fills most of the view finder on your camera works best. The Picture of Storm below is an example of a bad picture for a Portrait, the subject is to far away and I am unable to pick out any facial details.

detail2

The photo of Dusty (below left) is taken outside on a bright grey day and is very very clear, this made a fabulous Portrait and I was even able to remove the small reflection in his eyes.

detail