One of the most important factors in your commissioned piece will be the reference photo. A good photo can be difficult to take (believe me -- half of the photos I take of my dogs with a cell phone camera are blurry!), so this page will help teach you what qualities a good photo has and what tips may help you in taking those photos of your pet.


This photo is a perfect reference photo for a portrait! WHY?

  • It was taken in natural lighting that is not too bright or too dark. Dwyn’s photo was taken indoors, but facing a bright window with lots of natural light hitting her face.

  • The photo was taken at Dwyn’s level, not looking down at her. This is very important for getting the most flattering angle of an animal for their portrait.

  • This particular photo was taken with a newer cell phone camera that can take high resolution photos.

  • When zooming in on each photo, plenty of detail is visible. Details I need to see include the eyes (and eye reflections), nose, and individual hairs on the animal’s body. If I cannot see these, then the photo may not be sufficient for my needs.


It is very important to avoid cropping photos or zooming in on cell phone cameras to take a closer photo of your pet. Both of these things usually result in a lower resolution photo that looks pixelated and lacks in detail. 



  • The natural lighting is not too bright or too dark. Molly’s photo was taken in the hour before sunset, when the lighting tends to be just right.

  • Molly’s head & chest fill out as much of the camera frame as possible. This means that when trying to take a photo of your pet, you want their head & chest to take up more than half of the space in the photo. They need to be as close as possible, without cutting off any important features like their ears. Instead of using the zoom button on camera phones or point + shoot cameras, try moving closer to your pet and having a friend use treats to keep their attention!



  • It was taken indoors and the poor lighting has created a yellow tint and made parts of Dylan way too dark.

  • The photo was taken from too far away. The details of Dylan’s eyes, nose, and fur are not very visible, even when zooming in digitally.

Sometimes indoor pictures can be edited to have better lighting -- please contact me if you have a photo taken indoors that you want to use and I can see whether it is usable after editing.


If you are local to northern Colorado and are having trouble taking a photo of your pet, please contact me! I am happy to meet you at a park or visit your home and take photos of your pet for you with my camera. If your pet has passed away and your photos are limited, I will always do my best to work with the photos that you have on hand.