Wildlife paintings, portraits & pet portraits by New Zealand Artist Karen Neal

Tips on Photographing Your Pets


The question is often asked "what is the best way to photograph my pet" or "what sort of photo is best for a painting"?
The answer would be clarity of the photo helps me immensely, and a photo that really captures your pet's personality and character - the better quality the photograph, the more detailing I can see for your painting!

Get down to their Level

It really does help if you get down at ground level (if you can), so you are level with your pets eyes. Or ask someone to hold your pet, or put them on a higher surface such as a table or chair. Here is a photo of myself photographing a client's 2 Welsh Corgi dogs, Bridget & Max, and their cat Ben. It just so happened I was on holiday in the south island, so called in to meet the family in Twizel and took several photographs. You can see the painting here.

Photographing pets

Make it Fun!

Taking a session of photographs of your pets can be a lot of fun, have treats at the ready if necessary or a favourite toy. It is helpful to have one or two people to help you get their attention or hold them still. All pets are different and you will know yourself what it is that makes them relax, or when is the best time to capture them. Cats can be notoriously uncooperative (I have four cats and always trying to photograph them so know how tricky it is) - just take your time and try again another time if not successful.

Photograph of ginger cat


Getting Up Close and Personal

It is very helpful for me to have some detailed photos of your pets, particularly the eyes. This way I can see the colours of their eyes and coats, and the fur direction etc. If you can get quite close, or use the zoom so it doesn't distort being too close, to capture some closeup shots also, such as these Ben (pictured above), or these ones of my own cats Porsche & Koshka.



Choosing the Lighting and Setting

If you can use natural lighting for your photographs, this seems to work best. Taking the photographs outside on a slightly cloudy day is perfect! If it is too sunny the photos will tend to be overexposed because it is just so bright. If you can face your pets towards the light that is helpful for the camera to pick up all correct tones and colouring in their coats.

Take a Lot of Photos!

Take as many photos as you can manage during the one session - it is easy to delete the unecessary photos later (the beauty of digital)! I am guilty of taking many many photos! With the aid of digital cameras these days it's so easy to take many photos to capture that unique shot, so snap away and I'm sure you will get some special photos as a result.


Try to Avoid Using Flash

If it's not possible to take the photographs outside, try to avoid using the flash indoors, as this gives "red eye" and also an unnatural colouring to your pet. Photographing very dark or very light pets is tricky getting much detail if the conditions are too bright, as it will result in patches of undefined white or black with no detail. I find the best way to photograph these coloured pets is on a slightly cloudy day, such as Bleau and Oscar, which I photographed in Marlborough.


The resulting painting composition made in PhotoshopBichon Frise photo for painting


Photoshop Mockups

I will design a Photoshop mock-up of the composition and colour of your painting at actual size. This will be based on your chosen photograph.




The original photographs taken above, and the Photoshop composition below to help you visualise what the painting will look like




Photo composition for pet portrait

Here is another example of a Photoshop mockup of "Al" , with a greeny background colour

I hope this has been of some help to you. Just remember I love seeing photographs of your pets so please feel free to email them through, when we are discussing the possibilities for your painting.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.




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