Reference photographs for portraits

The photographs I receive from clients for portraits are the most important part of the portrait painting process. It is inevitable that they are of the best possible quality to ensure I can capture the true likeness of the subject in the portrait, be it a pet or a person. Please, make sure you provide me with the best pictures you have. It is also very helpful to have more than one photo as a reference when painting to allow me to observe the subject in different poses.

Tips on taking photographs of your pets

I know how hard it can be to catch your pet in the right pose and keep them there for a minute while you take the perfect picture. I have put together some tips I collected while practicing my own photographic skills.

It is best to always use natural light - go outside if you can. This allows you to capture the exact colour of you pets fur and the best detail. However, try to avoid really sunny conditions as this will create almost unnatural highlights and thus distort the real colour of your pet.

Try to fill the frame with the subject and make sure your pet isn't moving when taking pictures (I know this is almost impossible) - this is to ensure the image is in focus. When the frame is completely filled with subject, I can see a lot of detail and can produce a much more realistic image of your photograph. The photograph to the left shows an ideal situation.

Try to use a digital camera. Pictures taken with phones are usually quite blurred and simply do not offer enough information for me to work from. However, modern smartphones can produce some really good photographs. If you have a photograph taken with a smartphone, and would like to use them for a portrait, please copy them first onto your computer and email them to me unresized. When emailing a photo from your phone, the photos will be automatically resized and will loose its original quality and clarity.
If you have photographs and are unsure if they are suitable for a portrait, feel free to email me with them and I will be able to advise you.

Chocolate labrador photo - pet portraits from your photographs, IrelandLabrador photograph - tips on taking photographs for pet portraits

Thank you for reading through this page. I hope you found the information provided useful. If you have queries or comments and would like to get in touch, please feel free to email me anytime. My email address is You can also contact me by filling out my Contact Form.