Why do you need pictures of my pet?
Since it’s unlikely that your pet would pose perfectly for me for several days, I need photos of your pet to use as my subject. Generally I use one to three very good images to work from to capture your pet’s best features.
Start by looking through all your pet’s pictures and find one or two that really speak to your pet’s unique personality; maybe it’s a happy face, or a silly look – or maybe it’s one with that look in their eyes that always melts your heart. While it is important for your photos to reflect your pet’s character, they must also be of good image quality.
Please, unless you absolutely have to, don’t ever mail precious original hard copies of your photos – I would be heartbroken if something happened to them during shipping! Always make a copy to send – this can be a hard copy made using the original negative or the original digital file, or a high-resolution scan of the original photo. Sending digital photos are best for both of us.
I have a photo taken by a professional photographer, can you use that?
Yes, I can, but only if you obtain written permission from the photographer since he or she likely owns the copyrights to that image. Usually, it’s not a problem and most photographers are happy to allow you to use a photograph in this way.
What makes a “good” photo?
In short, the best photos are full-color images that show your pet in a natural pose, have a high-resolution with lots of detail, are in focus, have well-balanced light, and either are a close up of the face or body, or have little background showing.
Black and white photos are also useful, especially for graphite or charcoal portraits. And at times, black and white images can also be used as an added reference to full-color ones used to create pastel portraits.
Please read: Taking Great Pictures.
Below: Notice that in the photo on the left, Parker is only a small part of the overall image and we can’t see her facial features very well. However, her pose is perfectly relaxed and natural – she’s doing what she always does – and the natural lighting is good. But the best thing about this photo is that it was taken with a fairly high-resolution, which allowed me to selectively crop the image to feature just her head while still having enough detail to capture her expressive eyes and characteristic wrinkles.
What kinds of pictures should I avoid?
Avoid old images that are tinted by age, as they do not reflect the true color of your pet’s coat. Also, images that are excessively bright, over exposed, or washed out can blur necessary details. Excessive flash is a photographer’s worst enemy and can cause reflections in the eyes or wash out important details in color and texture. Underexposed pictures are almost as bad as overexposed ones; these type of photos tend to have excess shadows and are often dark, fuzzy or grainy. Also avoid sending low resolution photos in which your pet is a very small portion of the entire image, as this can make it difficult to zoom in on the subject with any clarity. Also, try to avoid pictures where there is excess shading of the face or eyes.
Photos in which objects obstruct any part of the face or body can also be difficult to work with because I rely on the detail within each photo to create a realistic portrait. That being said, if the size or placement of an obstruction is minor and I have other, similar images to work from, we may be able to use them. With that in mind, some poor quality images can still be used as references to better ones.
Below: The photo of my parrot, Clyde, is too blurry to make much of the details and colors of his brilliant feathers. The center photo shows Ali with the sun shining in his eyes, which makes him squint. It also casts excessive shine on his fur, which is difficult to compensate for. In the third photo, Duffy is a tiny portion of the overall picture. And because it is an old photo from the 70’s, the quality is tinted green and the image is grainy – making this a difficult photo to enlarge.
How many pictures do you need?
Usually, two or three good photos is enough to work from, but sometimes, more is better. The more pictures I have to reference, the more options I have for customizing the image. Love the look of the eyes in one photo, but not the pose? I can often work with several different images to find a solution.
Below: None of the three pictures below are “perfect”, but I could use any one of them as the main subject for a portrait, while using the other two as references.
My pet has passed away and I can’t take any new pictures; what do I do?
Don’t worry. If your pet has passed, we’ll work closely together with the photos you do have to create the very best portrait possible.
Below: In this nicely posed photo of Fudge, who passed away shortly after the picture was taken, the eyes are strongly reflected by the flash. But with the help of his owner, we can recreate the correct eye color.
What happens to the pictures that I send you?
If the pictures you send me are hard copies, I will return them to you along with the finished portrait unless you request otherwise. If the pictures you send are digital images, I will keep them on file for six months before deleting them.
Should you have any questions about the photos that you have, please don’t hesitate to ask. In most cases, I can sift through them and let you know which I think will work best.
If you need to take a few new photos, check out Taking Great Pictures.
If you are located in my immediate vicinity, ask about a private photo session.