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How to Photograph your Pet


It is very important to work from a clear, up close photograph as a reference to paint from. So much of the pets personality comes from their eyes and expressions. If I can capture their character, then I feel like I have accomplished my task.


Try not to take the pictures with your cell phone. The picture you take with the cell phone may look fine on the cell screen, but when blown up on the computer they often are out of focus and pixelated. If you have a camera with a telephoto lens, try using that to zoom in and use the entire viewfinder to frame the pets head. Try to avoid background distractions. Use a couple of different settings. Automatic and Sports mode. Since animals don’t always sit still, it might be helpful to use the Sports mode (usually indicated by an action figure icon). Do not use the flash. This will result in blown out fur and red eyes that will over power the true color of their eyes.


The best lighting will be outdoors on a bright overcast day. If you attempt to take a picture with your pet in direct sunlight, their eyes will be squinting. If it is sunny, it is best to put the pet in the shade, or wait for a cloud. Always stand with the light source to your back, and be careful not to cast a shadow on the pet. Indoor pictures are best taken by a window with morning light if possible. Do not use the flash (see example of Jasmine the cat).















Get down to eye level with your pet. Taking a picture from your level looking down will distort the pet in the picture. It is a good idea to have a squeaky toy, or a treat to get the animals attention. If you have someone to help you, they should hold the toys at your shoulder level so that you are free to take the picture. I also think that some of the best shots are angle shots where the pet is looking at an angle rather than straight on (see photo of yellow lab).













Take lots of pictures over a period of a couple days so that you and your pet don’t get tired. Send me as many pictures as you can to choose from. And, be sure to reward your pet for being such a good sport.

Good Luck!

Jasmine taken by the light of the window (photo courtesy of Cheryl Morse-Stephenson)

Yellow Lab taken in natural light

(photo courtesy of Sherry Daerr

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