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How to Get the Best Reference Photos From Clients for Pet Portrait Artists

Getting the best reference photos can give you a huge head start in creating a portrait your client will love. Your clients will really benefit from guidance from you as to what kind of thing you're looking for.

Here's some tips on taking/ finding the best reference photos! Feel free to use this to send to your clients, too, as a guide on how they should be taking their photos to get you the best reference material.

  • Natural light source - outdoor daylight or a bright room.

  • Light source direction - light coming from one direction, highlighting one side of the face while casting the other in shadow can look really effective in a portrait.

  • Step back - If you take the photo too close up to the animal, it can cause distortion. Take a step back from the animal, then take the photo, to keep their proportions correct.

  • Expression - Capture your animal's best expression using a treat, toy, or whatever they love to get them to look at the camera. Nice open, bright eyes will make for the best portrait. Unless the animal is known for a different feature, of course!

  • Get on your pet's level - Photos taken from above, looking down at your pet, can be unflattering. Kneel down to get on your pet's level, and take a photo. Holding a treat slightly off to the side, creating a 3/4 angle of your pet's face, can also be very flattering.

  • Good quality- can you see the fur direction? - All photos above were taken with the same iPhone camera. Good quality photos do not require a high tech camera, but there are things you can do to get the most out of your device, such as getting closer up and taking the photo in natural daylight. As a general rule, if you can see the details in your pet's eyes and the direction of their fur, your photo is of good enough quality to draw from.


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