Photo "How To" Guide

The quality of your painting will be to a large part determined by the quality of the photos that I have to work from. Below are some tips on getting the best photo that captures your pets coloring, markings and personality.

Lighting:
You best bet for getting a quality photo is to take it outdoors in natural light on a bright day with thin clouds. Avoid harsh, direct sunlight – on a bright sunny day its best to work in open shade. Keep the sun at your back to avoid deep shadows on the face. 

Avoid using the flash unless you are skilled enough to only use the flash as fill light. Photos taken using the flash as the primary light source are harsh and often distort the colors.

Pure black or pure white dogs are the most difficult to photograph. Good lighting is even more important with them than with others.

Put your animal at ease:
Spend some time on this part. Get your subject comfortable with the camera. Their first response is to investigate the camera (and usually get nose prints on the lens…). Give them time to get through that phase.

Have someone help you with the photo shoot with either a squeaky toy or treats. Take plenty of pictures: the more you take the more chance you have of capturing exactly what you want.

Composition Rules of Thumb:
- The biggest mistake most people make when photographing animals is not getting down on the same level!  Avoid standing over your subject and shooting down on him/her.  Kneel down and be at eye level.

- Next, try to stay back and use the zoom to fill the frame. If you are close to the subject the camera may be in a wide angle mode which will distort the subject.

- The “classic” portrait is the three-quarter angle – have your subject with its head at an angle to the camera and looking over your shoulder. It’s helpful to have an assistant off to your side to get the attention of the subject (maybe a squeaky toy will help). Straight on views with the subject staring into the lens are not the best. Pure profile shots can be interesting so include a couple shots like that as well.

- Don’t cut off ears, tails, or paws.

- In addition to the classic portrait shot, get some closeups of the animal’s face. I can’t stress enough that the more detailed shots I have, the better chance I have to capture your pets personality.

Choosing photographs:
While it’s possible to add or delete items from a photo, strive to get the best shot from the beginning. I can remove a collar or leash fairly easily but combining a head from one shot and body from another gets difficult at best. Removing toys from the animals mouth is almost impossible as well.

If your pet is no longer with us and you only have the photos that you have, contact me and we can discuss whether or not the photos are good enough to work from.

On that note:  Even if you don’t chose to commission a painting from me, use this opportunity to go out and take some new photos of your pet.  You’ll be glad you did sometime down the road!

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