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How to photograph your pup for a painting

We all have photos of our pups that we love - maybe it's their expression or a memorable moment or the first time they actually looked at the camera. I have so many wonderful photo memories of my pups, but they don't all make the best paintings.  While certain viewpoints look fresh and fun in a photo, they don't translate to a painting.  

Photographs for a painting don't have to be the most artistic, they just need to be in focus and taken at the best angle. When I'm preparing a composition, I'm looking for photos taken straight-on at eye-level of your pup sitting. Photos don't need to be taken with a professional camera - your phone can take a great photo for a painting. The best photos are taken by a window with soft light, but try to work with your pup where they're comfortable to get the best expression.


In the image below, the girl is kneeling on the ground with her camera lens eye-level with her dog in a sit position. This creates a pleasing angle for a painting.

Getting down on your dog's level puts you and your camera at the correct angle for a photo.

If you have a shorter dog, you may find it necessary to sit or lay on the floor. If you have trouble keeping your pup in place while you back away to take the photo, enlist the help of a friend or family member to sit beside your furry friend to keep them happy and relaxed.

For shorter dogs, it may be easiest to sit on the floor. Make sure to keep you camera level with their face.

Enlist the help of a friend or family member to sit with your pup to keep him calm and happy while you take photos. Treats or a favorite toy are always helpful when trying to get your dog to look at the camera.

If you have trouble bending down to the floor, try setting your furry friend on an ottoman or the sofa. This raises them up and allows you to take a photo while sitting in a chair or just lowering your camera to your waist.

Set your pup on an ottoman or sofa so you don't have to bend down so far.

photos that don't work for a painting

I'm a visual learner, so I understand that also knowing what NOT to do can be extremely helpful. While some of these angles may make adorable instagram moments or help us capture an adorable expression, they don't translate well for a painting.

Avoid standing too tall while your dog is sitting on the ground. While this may create a beautiful view of their eyes, often their mouth or ears aren't as visible and I can't see their chest fluff. 

When the camera is pointed down, mouth and ears aren't as visible and chest fluff is hard to see.

This angle creates a cute instagram moment but doesn't translate well for a painting.

Take it easy on your smart pups and let them do a regular sit for this photo session. No fancy tricks necessary for a painting.

When the camera is pointed down and your pup is looking up, you'll get a pic that is mostly nose and tongue. It's important for the painting to see the proportions of how head meets chest.

perfect pics for portraits

The following photos are examples that translate perfectly to paintings. Some of these photos were provided by pet parents and some where taken by me.

Charlie Oates 1.jpg
Monroe 2.jpg
Roscoe and Boris Taylor 1a.jpg
Scrappy 2b.jpg
Ollie Grace 3.jpg
Drake 1.jpg
Millie 2.jpg
Roo Monfee 4.jpg
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