Often when I'm at a craft fair or have an open studio, visitors excitedly brandish their phones and show me photos their beloved fur babies. As I know from photographing my children, it's easy to snap away and end up with hundreds (or even thousands) of photos in the hope of capturing a perfect moment. I've compiled my top tips for taking the perfect pet photo, particularly a photo that would work to be transformed into a pet portrait. I had a chance to work with beautiful Luna today to show some of my photo do's and don't's.
1. Outdoor photos are always best. Here you can hardly see Burt's features partly because he's backlit and partly due to the indoor lighting. Luna is very nicely lit outdoors!
2. Try and take photos with your pet's eyes open, and look out for that twinkle of reflected light. This can really set off a perfect portrait. Missy looks beautiful but sadly her stunning eyes are closed. I also love this cute picture of Luna but it would be wonderful to see her eyes!
3. I love arty angled photos but for portraits front on, or a slight angle to the side is best. This is a fabulous picture but taken from above Luna's face is a bit foreshortened. The portrait of Ronnie shows how well a slight angle can work.
4. Plain backgrounds are not essential but can really help (spot the knees above)
5. Photos in focus are essential for showing every detail. Modern camera phones are very good but even those, and cameras can end up with blurry photos.
6. Try using a tasty treat while someone takes the photo next to you!
7. Take a range of photos because only one will show your pet exactly how you'd like him or her represented.
8. Bright sunlight can bleach out details, overcast but bright days are best.
9. Don't cut off essential features - this photo of Akira would have been perfect if we could see his whole face.
10. Don't worry about getting every aspect perfect! These are only tips and with my expertise and a little computer jiggery pokery I can create the perfect reference photo to use for a portrait. Once I receive a few photos, I choose the best one and once I've cropped it I check you are happy and can create your portrait. I often lighten the photo and zoom in to really see details properly. I managed to take this photo of Luna that's almost spot on, she has a lovely smile, the lighting shows her colours and details on her nose but her eyes are quite dark so I would lighten that area to really see the colours. The final portrait won't be lightened, I only do that to see details better.
I hope these tips have been helpful - please feel free to share any others you might have!