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Taking photographs of animals can be tricky so I’ve put together some pet portrait photography tips to help you take a good quality photo of your pet.


Try to take your photograph outside or near a window using natural light where possible. The ideal photograph has good, even light (and enough of it!). Sometimes too much sun can cause as many difficulties as too little as it can make the image become burnt out. A sunny or mildly overcast day normally offers the best light from which to work.

Try to avoid taking photos using a flash as it can create a strange ‘glowing eyes’ effect. If there isn’t enough light to take the photograph without a flash, consider waiting until the light is better.

Try to make sure the light is behind you when you take the photograph so that it is shining directly on your pet. Backlighting can make an interesting photograph, but can look odd in a painting. There are always exceptions to this rule if the photograph is right though!


Try to get as close to your pet as you can so that they fill the frame. Remember to make sure that everything you want in the portrait is included in the photo (e.g. if you want the ears included, make sure they haven’t been cropped out of the photo). If the photograph is taken at a distance it will mean that the detail isn’t available when I zoom in to paint the finer aspects. 

If you are using a digital camera, using the zoom can be a good way to get a close up without getting too close to your pet and disturbing them. If you are using a mobile phone or tablet, try to avoid using the zoom as this will lower the resolution and make the image grainy or blurred.

Using a mobile phone/tablet

Photograph of Joey taken with mobile phone using zoom
Photograph taken with mobile phone using zoom – image is grainy.

Photos taken on mobile phones and tablets can be okay, but please try to use a digital camera if you can;  the resolution will be higher and there will be much more detail to work from.

If you do use a phone or tablet, try to get as close to your pet as possible, and avoid using the zoom.

See how the image of Joey using a mobile is quite grainy and lacks detail.

Ideally, I will need an image size above 2MB to get a really clear view of your pet.

Eye level

It is natural to want to photograph your pet from where you normally see them (from above for dogs and cats) but this can look odd in a portrait. If you get down to eye level with your pet, you will get a much better view of their face and often their eyes will look much rounder and friendlier.

Joey from above
Joey at eye level with digital camera

Their character

You know your pet better than anyone, so if they have a particular characteristic, look for ways to try to capture that. Try to capture their character – get that glint in their eyes!

File size

Please send me the largest possible size image you have (normally as an attachment rather than embedded in an email). Take care not to compress the files so they are smaller than the original when they arrive.  Ideally the file size should be above 2MB so I can see as much detail as possible.

Other pet portrait photography tips…

Try to make it relaxed and fun. Get lots of treats/toys for your pet so that they are enjoying it too. If they have a favourite toy or game, you might want to use that so their character really shines through. Or if they are naturally lazy or sleepy – you can work with that too! It is sometimes a good idea to get a family member or friend to help so they can put your pet at ease while you take the photos.

People often say never work with children or pets – and the reason is that they can be unpredictable. Remember to be patient and just keep taking lots of photos. Sometimes the ones you weren’t expecting to work or which were taken suddenly are the ones that turn out best.

If you’re not sure about which one to use, please just send me a few examples and I will be happy to advise.

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