A guide to choosing photos for a Pet Portrait


It’s really important to send good quality photos when you’re commissioning a pet portrait - they allow me to see all the detail I need to create a beautiful pet portrait and get a good likeness. 

The photos you send don’t need to be professional quality - photos taken with your mobile phone are totally fine. I ask for a minimum of 5 or 6 photos - this is for me to get a good feel for the pet’s character. At least 1 photo should be something you think would make a good portrait, and should meet the criteria set out below. 

The photos should be:

  • taken in natural light - this means I can see accurate colouring of your pet, and photos taken in natural light generally show more crisp detail.
  • in focus. This really goes without saying, but I do get sent a lot of blurry photos! It’s just impossible to work from them.
  • taken from a front-facing angle, looking at your pet on their level. Pet portraits generally work best using this front-on view. If you are after something more unusual I’m always happy to consider it, as long as the photos translate well into a painting (I’ll figure this out during the sketching stages!).
  • the highest resolution possible. If you are sending photos straight from your phone, you are sometimes asked what file size you want to send. Always choose the largest size - this means I can zoom in to see all the details I need. 
  • original photo files. Please don’t send screenshots of photos - it’s generally really difficult to zoom into these to see enough detail.
  • something you feel would make a good portrait. Have a think about what you’d like the portrait to look like - should it show the pet’s whole body, or just their head & neck? Do you want them to be in a certain position? Is there a certain way they like to sit, or stand? If you’d like your pet to look a certain way in their portrait, I’ll need a photo of the exact pose to ensure I can make it accurate. If you don’t have a photo of the exact pose you’d like, I can sometimes combine a couple of photos into the portrait to make it look how you want it to. Just ask if you’d like me to see if this is going to be possible. If you're not sure what you want your portrait to look like, I'll also be more than happy to advise and have a look at what photos you have available. 

    Here are some other things to consider;

  • Remember there is no such thing as too many photos! I’m always happy to look at lots and lots of photos of pets, and more photos will give me a really good feel for the pet’s character, and to get a good likeness.
  • Do you have Instagram? Are there loads of photos of your pet on there? I’d love to see it - feel free to send me hashtags that you might use for your pet (I have one for mine!), or let me know what your Instagram username is. This is often a really good way for me to see a large amount of photos, and even come across one that would make the very best portrait of your pet that you maybe hadn’t considered. I can also view Instagram on my desktop computer so the photos will always be large enough! 
  • Will the portrait be for a gift? Sometimes it’s hard to get photos of a pet that isn’t yours. Again think about social media - will the recipient have posted photos on Instagram or Facebook? It’s always worth having a look there to see if there’s anything you could use.
  • Struggling to find good photos? I also do gift vouchers for pet portraits. These are a great alternative if you’re not sure what the recipient might like their portrait to look like, or if you just can’t get your hands on the right photos. You can click here to purchase a gift voucher.

I’m always happy to help with any questions you have so please don’t hesitate to get in touch, by e-mailing hello@fionapurves.co.uk.

Here are some photos of my dog, Jeffers. I've chosen a few photos that I would select if I was going to paint a portrait of him.