Animal Portraits By Wendy Atton

Portraits created from your own photographs of your pets and other animals.

1.  Focus

This is above all the most important thing to get right.  The clearer and more in focus your photograph is - the more accurate your finished portrait will be. This is also probably the trickiest thing to do as it means getting your pet to stay still.  Good luck!

2.  Get down to your pet’s level.

If you can photograph your pet at his or her eye level this will generally give you a better shot than looking down on them from a standing position.  Even if this involves getting a bit muddy by laying on the garden, it’ll be worth it for the perfect shot.

3.  Lighting

I find natural light generally works best for bringing out the colours and details in your pet (especially for ones with black fur).  So I would always advise to photograph your pet outdoors wherever possible or in a room with a lot of natural light and near a window.  It’s also important to make sure your pet is facing towards the light to avoid casting a shadow over itself (also make sure you aren’t casting a shadow over your pet yourself).

4.  Focus on the important bits.

If you are commissioning just a head portrait then try to fill the frame with just the head by getting closer to your pet or zooming in on your camera. Likewise with the background - if you don’t want to include it in the portrait then zoom in so that your pet fills the photo.

5.  Mobile phone photos

Although the technology is pretty good these days I’m afraid I very rarely find a mobile photo that’s of a good enough quality to produce a good portrait.  In order to create the detail used in my portraits I need a very clear image to work from and although a photo may look in focus on a phone, once it’s enlarged it is often too pixilated for me to work from.  So I would advise to use a digital camera or film camera wherever possible.

6.  The pose

This bit is really down to individual preference.  For a head portrait, a traditional pose is for your pet to be almost facing forwards but just looking off to the side slightly.  A good way to do this is by asking someone to stand behind your shoulder and hold up a treat or toy to get your pet’s attention. However, a more relaxed pose can be just as effective.  Think about your pet’s personality and what sort of pose would best represent them.

7.  Finally - take lots!

Digital cameras are wonderful things because they allow us to take a hundred photos and not worry if 99 of them are no good.  I would advise to keep snapping away until you get the perfect shot - it’ll be worth it in the end.  Feel free to send me as many photos as you like.  I usually work directly from one photo but if something is clearer on another photo e.g. markings, colouring etc., then please send that too.  It will all help me build up a clearer image of your pet.

Ultimately, I can work from whatever photo you provide me with but the above tips will help you get the best results from your portrait.  If you’re unsure about the photos you have please email/post them to me and I’ll be happy to advise on what will work best.  (All printed photos will be returned with your finished portrait).

Happy snapping!

Helpful Tips For Photographs

Firstly I should state that I don’t claim to be a professional photographer at all, so there definitely won’t be anything too technical on this page, but I can offer you a few hints on what sort of photographs I find make the best portraits.