Reference photos play a crucial role in the commission process! In order to have the best possible finished portrait, the reference photo needs to be a great photo that guides the entire creation. There are many components to consider before choosing the ideal reference photo, so keep reading to help you make a decision for the best photo for your commission!

Natural lighting

Lighting is one of the most important elements that can greatly influence the dynamic of a portrait. Optimal lighting is typically natural and soft light, which can be achieved by taking photos outside on an overcast day or under a shaded area. Your pet's details and features are well visible in this lighting. If you're looking for more of a dramatic flare, sometimes a stronger light source (but still natural lighting) can create this effect. You can achieve this by placing your pet next to a large window, with the light source shining from one side which adds highlight to your pet's face. Try to avoid artificial indoor lighting or poorly lit areas if possible.

At eye level

You can send me multiple photos of your pet from various angles, as this helps me get a general picture of your pet. When choosing the single photo for me to work with, however, a photo at your pet's eye level works best. Photos taken from above or below your pet can often distort your pet's proportions and make for a wonky composition (i.e., a large head and tiny body perspective when a photo is taken from above). Sit or kneel to get on your pet's level for an optimal photo. When at this level, photos taken straight on or when your pet is looking slighly to the side creates a flattering angle.

High quality

Don't let this part intimidate you! You DON'T need a fancy DSLR camera. Most smartphones have the ability to take high quality photos! To use your phone's camera effectively, make sure to get close up (as opposed to taking the photo from afar and zooming in) and snap the photo in natural lighting. Typically, if youre able to see the direction of your pet's fur and details in their eyes, your photo should be sufficient. The more details you can see, the better!

Capturing your pet’s personality

Capturing a certain expression or look your pet often wears is a great way to portray them in a lasting portrait. Think about what features and details you love most about them! Is it your dog's right ear that flops down when he's happy? Or your cat's intense stare when she's scheming to paw at your glass of water the second you leave the room? Whatever it may be, try to capture photos that best reflect your pet's spirit and personality. It may be a challenging task, but this can elevate your portrait and make it that much more meaningful to you. 

Multiple pets in one artwork

If you happen to have a high quality photo of all your pets you wish to include in your commission, congrats! This can be a nearly impossible task, so generally, I ask that you send in separate photos of each individual pet. I will then merge them together and you'll be able to choose which composition you like the most. When sending in individual photos, there's a few things to keep in mind:

Try to make sure all photos have the same perspective. The overall composition will look off if there's a photo taken at ground level of one pet and a photo taken at a bird's eye view of another pet. 

Another aspect to consider is light source. Try to make sure the light is coming from the same direction across all pets. You want the piece to look cohesive, so perspective and lighting must be similar across all photos!

Pets that have crossed the rainbow bridge

If you're looking to create a piece to memorialize a pet that has gone to heaven, it can certainly be done! Please send as many photos as you wish and I will do my best to work with the photos you have on hand. Let me know if you'd like the portrait to be from a certain stage in your pet's life (i.e., a puppy or kitten so you can remember them youthful and full of energy).