Taking Good Photos of Your Pets

For my pet portrait art, I work from photographs so it’s important that the photos I use are well-taken, in focus and in good lighting. However, that’s easier said than done as some pets can be camera-shy or very fidgety! Here are some tips to help you get the best results when taking photographs to send to me for your commission.

If your pet has passed away and you don’t have many good photos, you may wish to send a few photos to me anyway so that I can have a look.

I will usually require anywhere between 2-10 photographs from you to work with for the commission. The more, the merrier! Please do be sure to let me know which ones are your favourites out of the selection that you send me.

During your photo shoot

Patience is the key. Try to snap your pet when they are relaxed and content. Both eyes should be open (unless you specifically want a portrait of them sleeping).

Often the best ways to get your pet’s attention is to use a treat or favourite toy to get them to look in the right direction.

Always take photos at the same eye level as your pet and make sure you’re not looking up at them or down on them with the camera.


Try to fill roughly two-thirds of the image with your pet’s head/body so that I can see as much detail as possible. That said, try to ensure when photographing that all of their head and ears are in frame and no parts that are essential to the portrait are being cut off from the picture.

Photos are best taken in natural daylight with light coming from one side of the subject.

For best results I tend to prefer working with photos where your pet’s head is facing slightly to the side, rather than them looking straight at the camera. However this is highly dependent on the subject so don’t be afraid to send me lots of photos from different angles!

Please remove any collars, leads, tacks and rugs if you do not want them in the portrait. If your dog or horse has recently been groomed please also let me know whether or not you want their whiskers included in the portrait.

Multiple Subjects

If you wish to have more than one subject in your commission it is always best to photograph them each individually. This way I can draw them all together in the same image and still be able to see your pets’ markings and important details.

Picture Quality

234234234It is essential that your pictures are in focus and are not blurry. Their face especially should be in focus so I can see all the details.

The lighting in your photos should not be too bright that the details are washed out, and not so dark that it’s hard to see detail.

Never use the flash function on your camera! You can achieve the best lighting effects outdoors in daylight when the sun is shining, or in a room of your house that gets a lot of natural daylight. If photographing indoors make sure all indoor lighting is switched off.

Once you have finished your photo shoot with your pet(s) please email your photos to me at wildlifeportraitartist@gmail.com

Sometimes photographs are too big to send as attachments in emails. If you’re struggling to send large images via email then you can upload to an image hosting website such as imageshack and then email the direct link of the image to me instead.


More examples of good reference photos: