If you are thinking of purchasing a pet portrait painting, then firstly you'll need to find an image to provide your artist. Immortalising your pet in a photograph or painting means capturing a pose & expression you recognise & adore. There's a big difference between painting a good pet portrait & an incredible pet portrait, & that difference lies in your ability to provide the artist with a cracking photograph. (No pressure).
Like the common passport photo, us artists have a similar list of requirements! Not working from real life means we don't have much to go on! Often we paint directly from one photo rather than combining elements of multiple photos, so it's important to get it right. You know your pet better than anyone, so if you want those big bat ears to be the main feature, then make sure they come across well. We are unable to spot if your cat is looking grumpy, so please don't ask us to try & 'paint him a bit happier'! Instead, try & send a happier photo.
We know the love you have for your pet is like no other, & sure, you'll have a ton of photos on your phone or camera, but please try to limit the number you send across. It can be a little bit overwhelming if you bombard us with snaps, so try to keep the cap at around 3.
Below are some pointers, highlighting what to avoid when photographing your pet.
1. avoid distance
Please don't choose/take a photo which has your pet positioned too far away. Yes, you can always zoom & crop but this sacrifices the quality massively - so please don't. Best to choose/take a photo where your pet is positioned within 1m from the camera.
2. no blurriness
Blurred or out of focus shots, will mean that the quality is poor. Keep the camera as still as possible & focus it. An amazing portrait requires crystal clear sharpness, so the artist can paint every tiny detail.
3. Don't crop the face
Don't hold the camera too close so that you are missing vital body parts (like ears/noses). A good artist will be able to make up those missing parts to some extent, but it's really not ideal! We paint the best portraits of the face & chest, so it's ok to crop out from the shoulders down.
4. avoid height
The camera has a funny way of distorting perspectives, & like us humans, animals can be unphotogenic too! Just like we don't enjoy being photographed from below, pets don't look great when you are towering above them. Get low, on their level & position the camera on their eye line.
5. no lounging
Awkwardly positioned pets can make life very hard for an artist! Try not to take/choose a photo where your pet is lying down. Ensure that they are stood, or even better, sat.
6. avoid exhaustion
Exhausted pets aren't exactly the picture of health! Try to capture your pet when he/she is full of spirit, but not worn out. If they're panting profusely with tired eyes then maybe wait for another opportunity to snap their best side.
7. no squinting
Like humans, it's not ideal having the sun burning into your retinas! Squinting at the camera means small, shadowed eyes. You need to aim for big, glossy, alert eyes as they will be the focal point of the painting. Take a photo indoors or where the sun is not blinding your pet.
The perfect photo is crystal clear, sharp & of great resolution. The pet will be close enough to the camera to pick out the fine detail in the eyes & face, with the camera on the eyeline. Their expression will be cute/alert/happy -(whatever you think shows their personality). Posing proudly while sitting makes the best position, & try to capture the head, neck & chest facing forwards or 3/4 forwards.
The most important thing is to relax, & ensure there are no distractions. If you are relaxed, your pet will also be relaxed. Equip yourself with a fully charged camera or good quality phone camera, with edible treats on hand to keep them interested.
Seize the moment as their attention won't last forever!
Putting that extra effort into providing your artist with an image for your pet portrait will make all the difference. Take a look at examples of some great custom pet paintings for inspiration.