Ann Jeffree, Wildlife & Pet Portraits
Tips to help you take a great photo of your pet

  • Focus carefully, making sure your pet's best feature is clear and sharp.
  • Use a telephoto lens or maximum zoom if you can, so you can be a good distance from your pet - getting in close can cause a tense facial expression.
  • Keep the background simple and uncomplicated, and contrasting with your pet's colours.
  • Most animals look good in a 3/4 view to the camera, or in profile. A straight-on pose can look distorted.
  • Take several different angles and poses, so you have plenty to choose your favourite from.
  • For a head portrait, get as close as possible without making your pet uncomfortable.
  • Fill the frame with the animal - a "postage-stamp" size photo is really hard to work from!
  • Be patient - some animals are worried at first when you point a camera at them. Give them time to relax and give you the pose
    you're looking for.
Choose a bright, cloudy day rather than bright sunlight, as this creates very harsh contrasts, washes out colours, and makes it hard to get a flattering photo. The light on a bright cloudy day gives more saturated colours, and more moderate shadows and highlights. Position your pet so that no building or tree shadows are falling on them.

Try to avoid using a flash if possible, but if you have no choice, position the camera flash so that it lights up the room, rather than facing it directly at your pet. Use a white umbrella or large piece of card to reflect the light from the flash towards your pet, instead of directly at your pet.

Charcoal Portrait on Art Paper
An example of a photo that makes life a bit difficult - it was taken indoors using a flash. This caused
the eyes to reflect and flare, and made the black coat very flat. But don't despair if you can't obtain a great
professional shot to send me - you'd be amazed what I can still extract from the photo. It's also a great help
to learn more about the dog's personality, as was the case with this portrait.

Charcoal Portrait on Art Paper
This photo made it easier to produce a quality portrait. There's plenty of detail in the light areas, and the dog's
expression is very cute, which suits her personality.

And finally: if your pet has passed away, or if you're surprising a friend, and the
"not the best" photos you have are the best you can get, send them to me anyway,
and I will do my best to produce a quality portrait for you. See below to compare
a typical reference image and the finished portrait.
Pastel Portrait on Art Paper