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Taking Photos of Your Dog

When you paint from photographs, its so important to get the right photo.  The truth is - the better the photo, the better your portrait will be.
 
I'm no photographer but during my time as a pet portrait artist over the last few years, I saw many pet photos, some great, some terrible.  I thought I'd use my own dog Piper, and a couple of others too, to give examples of what makes a good (and bad) photo for a portrait.

TOO CLOSE!
Above are a couple of unsuccessful examples. Still beautiful as photographs but..
 
Because they're taken so close to the dog's face, the proportions have been distorted, making the nose so much bigger than it is in real life.
 
Sometimes this can translate to a great portrait, but it sometimes looks quite charactacture-ish, rather than a great depiction of your pet.  If thats what you would like, Im more than happy to draw it for you, but I want you to be aware of this 
Piper - Too Close.jpg
Piper - Too Close2.jpg
TAKEN FROM ABOVE

The most common mistake I see is when photos are taken from above the dog.

 

This is because this is how we always take photos of our dog!! Its entirely normal.  BUT..... again, it distorts the features and just doesn't create a great angle for drawing

Piper from above.jpg
GOOD EXAMPLES

 

Above are a couple of good examples for the following reasons.

They have fairly good lighting, (I can always adjust the lighting, so don't worry too much)

They are taken at the level of the dogs head,  and you can see her eyes in both photos.

One photo was taken in the car, but don't worry about the background, as that won't be in the portrait

Piper just right2.jpg
Piper just right.jpg
Jasper - just right.jpg
ANOTHER GOOD EXAMPLE

 

You dont necessarily need the dog to look at the camera, if theyre looking off to the side, like this spaniel, that can also create a great drawing too

 

Notice that you can see the dog's eye/s clearly, and that again, it is taken from the same level as the dog's head

Millie Just right.jpg
BLACK DOGS

A great photo shows your pets face clearly, and shows its eyes too.  This can be really difficult with black dogs, but if you take the photo outside, you can usually see their eyes much clearer than if they were inside.

 

This photo of Mille demonstrates this perfectly, you can see highlights in her fur and you can also see her eyes

 

This photo was also taken down at Millie's height, rather from above, so you get a 'normal' position from her when she is looking at the camera

You can get your dog to look at the camera by holding either their favourite toy or a delicious treat in your hand just behind the camera.  You also can achieve an 'alert' (or at least slightly interested) look on their face by using treats too.
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