How To Photograph Pets


I always work from photos provided by my customers. It’s helpful for me to have three or four clear images sent by email including the photo you want done in pastel. The quality and detail of the finished portrait is dependent upon the quality of the photos you send me. Correct fur colours and clear eye colours are critical for a positive outcome. Professional photos are not necessary as today’s cell phones take excellent pictures. I have listed a few basic suggestions below which should help you capture some quality photos of your pet if you need to take new ones. Blankets, pet beds, balls and fluffy toys add interesting textures to the portrait. Try to make sure your pet’s tag with his/her name is visible.

Should you want a memorial portrait, select a few photos from your existing collection specifying the one you want done in pastel.

Levi and Qantas
Take photos while at eye-level
Get down on the floor to achieve eye-level
If taking photos outside, do so on an overcast day, not in direct sunlight or shade. Indoors is absolutely fine as well with natural light (no flash) – near a window for example. I personally have better luck photographing my two dogs indoors. Duck Tollers are easily distracted by anything that moves and it becomes a frustrating experience trying to get decent photos.
Always get down to your pet’s eye level. Having them sit or lie on the chesterfield, a chair or your bed is ideal, or get down on the floor yourself, whatever way makes your pet most comfortable.
Catch your pet’s attention by waving a treat or a squeaky toy near your camera/phone or slightly above your head so the pet is looking towards the camera. A second person can help with this by standing close beside or behind you with a treat or toy in hand. Having a clear view of the eyes or at the very least, one eye, is of utmost importance.
A second person as a pet wrangler may be necessary to hold your pet in place while you set up your shots. Take many photos until you get a few great examples to send me via email. I take dog photos and there are days when pets simply are not in the mood. If they are not co-operating “today”, then try again “tomorrow”. If I do not feel I can do your portrait justice based on the photos you send, I will ask you to try again.

Examples of framing by some of my customers

Rusty and Blue









Framing and Hanging Instructions

A pastel is fragile as long as it remains unframed. It needs to be framed behind glass to avoid smudges and damage. The pastel should never touch the glass as the pastel particles will stick to the glass and can ruin the artwork. Adding a mat or spacer when framing keeps the pastel from touching the glass. Do not use acrylic sheets or plexiglass instead of glass as these alternatives can cause an electric charge (static) that will pull the pastel off the paper. Be sure to tell your framer not to spray fixative on your pastel. In my opinion fixatives will darken the artwork giving it a muddy appearance.

Do not hang pastels in direct sunlight. When under glass, the heat of the sun can create humidity, which could cause moisture damage. Pastel paintings are incredibly sensitive to moisture. Bathrooms and kitchens are never suitable places for pastels.