The beauty of painting from photographic reference (apart from the fact the subject sits still for hours on end) is I can intensify certain areas like the eyes, nose and mouth whilst re-balancing the overall tones and colours to achieve the most expression. This process requires a tremendous amount of detail so your photos need to be of high quality, clear and sharp - the better the quality of the photos, the better the quality of artwork I can produce for you. 


DIGITAL PHOTOS - Photos taken with a digital camera usually provide superior quality images, however, most newer smart-phones have a decent camera and take good enough photos for me to work with. Take your digital photos on the highest quality setting your device provides so that the images retain the finer details of your pet's unique textures and features. 

TRADITIONAL PHOTOS - If your favourite photos are the traditional paper ones, as might be the case for deceased pets or you may only have an analog camera on hand, either case is fine. Simply post your photos to me so I can then scan them at a high resolution for use. Your precious photographs will be well handled with care and returned to you with your completed portrait.

LIGHTING - Natural lighting outside, in the mid-morning or mid-afternoon is ok but a bright overcast day is the best. If you are taking photos on a bright sunny day, try to position your pet in the shade. Natural light away from harsh sunlight gives the most accurate colours without casting dark shadows or bleached highlights that hide detail. If taking photos indoors, try to position your pet near a window where there is natural lighting. Avoid using a flash as this gives your pet "green eye" (same as human "red eye").

POSITIONING - The most flattering angle to take photos is down at your pet's eye level, which could mean crouching or lying down or setting your pet up on a table. Try to take photos as close to your pet as possible, where the head and half the body takes up the entire frame, and whilst the pet is still and sitting upright - this can be difficult I know! 

DETAILS - The most important part of any photographic reference is to make sure the eyes are open, clear and not in shadow as they are generally what portrays the most character and brings your pet portrait to life. 

Don't stress too much about taking the perfect shot. As long as photos are sharp, clear, in focus and the lighting isn't too harsh, I'm sure we can work with them to create a beautiful portrait. If your pet has passed on, or you are commissioning a portrait as a surprise and are unable take any more photos, just send me the photos you have and we can see how best to use them. If you are unsure about the quality of your photographs or are not sure which particular photos would suit best, feel free to send me as many photographs as you can and we can discuss which are the most suitable for the portrait type you have in mind. 


Photo by Kathy Petterson

Photo by Hannah Garrison

Photo by Karen Broemmelsick


Photo by Ron Ford - dark & lacking detail

Photo by Elisa Betrouge - too far away

Photo by Irini Adler - odd angle & blurred


All images © 2018 Kyles Honeyman