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Pet and People Portraits


1) Pet Photos

I will start with pets because in their case photos must almost always be used to do their portraits. Included on this page are some photos that I have used in creating pet portraits for clients, with examples that would be helpful to anyone supplying me with photos to do a portrait.

In our new era of digital photography, it is now quick and easy to take photos that can be quickly sent out via e-mail. This is very convenient for both myself and clients.

The single most important thing in making the photos useful (besides light exposure that is not too dark or too washed out) is to be certain that you are close enough to your pet when you take the photos. If photos can be done without flash, that is much more desirable as shades of light and dark will not be washed out.

For pet portraits it is important that I have a photo that has the animal in the pose that is desired for the portrait. This photo should be marked so that I know it is the chosen pose. Next, it is important to have a close up of the animal's face (without flash so I can see the eyes well; this can be taken outside if there is not enough light inside). Any other photos that help with hair color, markings, etc. are very helpful also.

These are good photos-not too far away with info about the animal's overall appearance.
I still needed a much closer photo of the dog's face which the client later supplied.

These are examples of pose photos, marked by the client. In the photo on the
right the pet is a little too far away and washed out by flash, but I could still use it for the pose information.

These are examples of photos where the animal is getting too far away for the photo to be helpful to me. The one on the left is still somewhat helpful, the middle one is way too far away, and the one on the right is almost completely useless for portrait information.

2) People Photos

All of the above mentioned things that apply to good pet photos also apply to good people photos, so I won't mention them again in this section. In pet portraits, the overall appearance of the animal is as much a feature of the portrait as the face.

With people, the person's face is usually the first and foremost center of interest in a portrait, so getting a good well exposed photo (good light and dark pattern on the features) and a close enough photo of the person's features is absolutely necessary.

I want to add a special note here about the portraits of people that I do from photos, which is often more difficult than from life because photos do not impart the accuracy of form and color that the human eye can. With photos, I often have to draw heavily on my artistic knowledge to fill in lacking information. If you want to insure that your portrait does not give away that it was done from a photo, avoid taking photos that have an open smile, as this gives the portrait an imediate photographic attitude. The photo can still have a pleasant expression, but not to the point of an open smile. If a client prefers the open smile, of course, I paint it that way.

Other photos that help display the person's personality and other physical features of importance such a accurate hair color are also very helpful.