As we approach the holidays, we are suddenly asked as pet portrait artists ” Oh! I would love to have a portrait of our dog for my husband/wife for Christmas!” Do you get this every year about this time? Well, it has become so common for me that I have tried to accommodate a client the best that I can, as I understand that people are naturally procrastinators and so I tell them….I can possibly get it done for you but I can’t do it without GOOD high resolution photographs.
Why I need the best photo!
I tell them I will need to approve the photo before taking on the commission. The photo, unlike this one of Fletch, the Golden Retriever, needs to be clear, showing adequate detail and be quite near how you would like the portrait to be.
What customers want!
It can take many extra hours and often days trying to discern details in pets faces, etc from poor photographs. My main concern with each portrait is to have it depict the pet as accurately as possible and to capture his or her personality, so I like to work from photos that best show this side of the pet since I usually don’t get the privilege of meeting the pet in person.
Gift certificates are available!
Time needed depends on how many portraits I have ahead of them but having excellent photos enables time to be on my side. I have created a gift certificate to be given in case I am unable to finish before Christmas or a special occasion.
Here are some basic guidelines to help capture a pet’s true personality in a picture for reference while painting a pet portrait.
1. The best light is an overcast day. Not too many shadows or bright spots.
2. Get down to eye level with the pet so he won’t be distorted by camera angle.
3. If the pet won’t stay, have someone hold him from behind, holding down on the front legs. Be sure the holder doesn’t put his arms around the pet’s neck or any other part that will be in the final portrait.
4. Preferably, take the pet’s photo with his head turned a little, such as 3/4 view, or profile, as opposed to straight on. Although sometimes straight on does work well, depending on the dog.
5. For head shots, fill the frame with the pet’s head and down to the bottom of his chest.
6. In the case of a dog, have some one else throw a small object up in the air, aiming it to land where you want the dog to look. Be ready to snap the photo the second the object hits the ground, as your dog should prick his ears and look alert at that moment.
7. I always ask to see the photos beforehand to see if it will work or not. I need a very detailed photo, as close to the position the portrait will be done in. I want to get as accurate as possible and if I tried to change things too much without a photo, like head position, ears, etc, or if I can’t see all markings and hairs, I run the risk of having it not accurately depict the pet as I won’t have the chance to see the pet in person and get to know him or her. So an excellent photo is essential.
Examples of good photos:
I hope this post has been helpful in providing information about getting the photos from potential clients in order to provide them with the BEST of you as an artist! Have a wonderful first week of December! Paint on my friends!