Best photos for painted portrait of your pet

Peanut’s owner contacted me to paint Peanut so that she too could be displayed along with Miles and Bobby, wood slice portraits that I completed for her last year.

This is the photo I used as a model. The client did not want a Christmas themed painting and asked for a blue background.

The photograph is good for a wood slice portrait. The pose, and the point of view are perfect. Even though the eyes do not "sparkle", I am able to work with this photograph for a small portrait on a wood slice.

Although I am not a photographer, I know that some photos work much better than others for portrait painting.  You don't have to be a professional photographer with expensive equipment to take good shots of your pet for painting purposes.

Easy to remember tips for pet photos for portraits

  • Lighting is very important. If you take the photos at night, I won’t be able to see all the variations in the fur, nor will I see the reflective parts in the eyes. A flash will result in other problems such as red eye and washed out fur colouring. Photograph your pet near a window where natural light is bright yet diffused.
Photograph showing light reflection in eyes, pinks in ears, and fur colouring variations. Photo by Elise Petrovich at Unsplash.


  • Entice your pet with treats. This is the motivation for your pet to stay in position. Your pet will be focused on the treat and you will get a few good shots while the pet is anticipating the next cookie. Never force an animal to sit for long periods of time. Try to take a photo when your pet is relaxed.
  • A headshot is best for wood slices. Take the photo when you are down at your pet’s level. This is point of view positioning. Use a pillow to prop your arms when you take the photograph. A blurred photograph isn’t helpful. If you send me photos taken from afar, I will not be able to see all the characteristic markings specific to your pet…

These simple tips will make it so much easier for me to paint a portrait of your pet.

The better the photo, the more accurate the final result will be, especially for larger sized portraits.

Colouring and light reflection in eyes and variations in fur are excellent for portrait painting in this eye level shot. Photo by Alexandur Rotariu at Unsplash.


Expert advice for photographing your pet

There are excellent tips online for photographing your pet.

You do not need an expensive camera, nor do you need to worry about apertures and so on. A phone will take suitable photos for portrait painting.

If the lighting is good and your pet is photographed in a clear, up close shot, I can usually work with that photograph and a few others to guide me along.

This site provides 87 tips some of which are very technical.

A few other sites such as this one offers simple tips to remember when photographing your pet.

This website considers all the exposure options for pet photography.

Peanut’s story

Peanut's favourite spot in her home was the bathtub. Contrary to most felines, she loved getting her head wet while she drank straight from the faucet.

Peanut's owner says her meow sounded more like a croak. However, she did purr a lot.

After Peanut passed away this summer, the client contacted me to have her memorial portrait done on a wood slice .

The wood slice is ready for display all year long with Miles and Bobby.

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