A great pet portrait starts with a decent photo

I paint my portraits with the visual aid of reference photos sent to me by the client attached to an email, or by regular mail if they are prints. Photo images sent to me can either be from a digital camera or can be scanned images from printed photos (high-resolution scans are best). Emailing a photo is easy. Click here for a quick how-to.

To help you with selecting a photo for my painting reference, I provide some examples below as a guide.

(Note about hard-copy print photos: Since it is a remote possibility that a print photo sent through the regular mail could get lost, I ask that clients send duplicates of their original prints. A high-quality duplicate can be easily made from a print without the need for a negative at most photo processing centers. Any print photos sent to me through regular mail will be returned to the client by the time their portrait is completed.)

If it is preferred by the client, I can travel to photograph the subject myself if the subject for the portrait lives in or near the Portland, Oregon area, or I can travel further at client expense.

Detail required

The photos submitted to me as reference images should provide enough detail for me to work with. If scanning print photos to send via e-mail, please scan them at a high resolution.

Here are some examples of reference photos to use as a guide:

Example of a good reference photo

This photograph would be ideal for a portraitPhotos like this one are ideal for helping me create my best possible pet portraits. In this reference photo, the image of the cat contains enough detail for me to use in creating a beautifully detailed cat portrait, and it's a great pose. It would have been even better had it been shot from a closer distance. Another strong point is that it was shot at the cat's eye-level and not from above the cat.

Example of an OK reference photo

This photograph provides enough basic information for a portrait This photograph provides enough basic detail for me to create a dog portrait in a style that is more interpretive and less photorealistic, a style favored by some.

Example of an unusable reference photo

This image is indistinct and could not be used for a portraitThe two cats in this photo are quite indistinct, and thus I would be unable to accurately depict either of them in a pet portrait.


If you are wondering if your photo is suitable as a basis for a pet portrait, please send it to me with your inquiry. I will let you know whether I can use it.