top of page

Pet Reference Photo Guide 

IMG_2708 2.jpg

What makes a GOOD reference photo?

As a realistic pet portrait artist, I depend on detailed reference photos to accurately capture the essence of your pet. Candid shots that showcase your pet’s personality—silly poses are welcome!—and highlight fine details are crucial for creating a realistic painting. Here are some tips for taking and selecting the ideal reference photo for your pet.
During your photoshoot, be patient; sometimes, it may take 40 or more shots to get the perfect one! You might need to experiment with different locations, lighting, angles, or even attempt on another day. Your patience in adhering to these guidelines will help you capture a flattering reference photo that truly reflects your pet’s unique character, leading to a much better painting.


Photos should be taken at eye level from about 4 feet away. Make sure your pet is either looking at you or just past your shoulder. Ideally you want to be able to see both eyes. Also make sure your pet fills the frame and isn’t cut off or too far away. Bust shots (head and chest) make excellent pet portraits.

Image Quality

You do not need to have a DSLR camera to take a good photograph of your pet! Most iPhones and Androids can take fantastic high resolution photos, if taken in the right lighting. Of course, if you do have access to a DSLR or a friend who has one, use it! 

Detail in the Nose, Fur and Eyes. I love to see textures on the nose, Reflections on the nose, and in the eyes. Fur makes up most of their body its best if I can see even the slightest variance of fur color and direction.




My goal is to paint the tiniest of details, to bring your portrait to life and I can only do that with a high-quality high-resolution photo!


Turn off the flash! A flash will make a photo look flat and oftentimes will give the subject red-eye. Instead, use natural light. Take your photos outside on a cloudy day or at sunrise/sunset. Indoor pets can be photographed in a well-lit room by a window. This works well for cats that like to bird-watch out a window.

bottom of page