fbpx
 

TIPS & TRICKS TO PHOTOGRAPH YOUR PETS

In order to create the best portrait of your pet as possible, I need good reference photographs. Obviously, not everyone has access to a professional pet photographer (although, if you’re in Central Ohio, you have ME!) or a fancy camera. That’s absolutely fine. Here are a couple tips and tricks to get good results.

PHOTOGRAPHING OUTSIDE

If you’re taking your pictures outside, try to stay out of bright sunshine that will cause harsh shadows. An overcast day is the perfect time to take reference photos! Early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is no longer at its peak, is also a great time. If it is sunny, move your subject into the shadows of something solid, like a building or fence. Put the sun behind you so that your subject is well and evenly lit. 

Don’t take photographs under a tree in bright sunshine or you’ll get “dappled” shade and your subject will have bright and dark spots everywhere! That is very hard to edit correctly.

PHOTOGRAPHING INSIDE

Try to find as much natural light as possible, like a big window. Have your subject face the window so that you have your back to it or one shoulder and they get all the light or 3/4s of it on their face. If the light is behind them, it will be difficult to get detail in the shadows.

Don’t take photographs at night, where you rely on indoor lighting. It’s the most difficult lighting ever – cameras struggle to get detail in the shadows, incandescent lighting makes everything a weird yellow. If you can, wait until the next day.

 

GET DOWN

The best portraits create an intimacy between the viewer and the subject. That means you have to get to eye-level.

 

GET BACK

Camera lenses create distortion the closer you are to your subject. That’s how you get some of those “big nose” portraits. Step back a few paces to take your pictures.

 

EYE CONTACT

While seeing your subject’s beautiful eyes is definitely a positive, you don’t necessarily need a portrait of them staring at you all the time. It’s OK if your subject is looking off into the distance. The trick is to make sure it looks deliberate. So that they’re not just looking slightly over your shoulder but really looking off at an angle. My Finch has a very distinctive aquiline nose so I like portraits of him with a ¾ profile.

If you want direct eye contact, choose a toy or a treat and hold it right above the lens of your camera/phone. This works better than calling their names because they usually get up to come see you!

 

MULTIPLE SUBJECTS

If you’d like to have more than one subject in your portrait, please PLEASE take reference photos of them in the same light and from the same angle. They don’t all have to be in the same shot at the same time – we all know how difficult it is to get them all to pose simultaneously! I’m more than happy to composite them into one portrait. But it makes the final result so much better if they have the same lighting and angle.

THE MORE, THE MERRIER

Send me everything. The more pictures, the merrier. Sometimes you have a good pose but their eyes are closed but you have another picture with their eyes open but their tongue out – send them both. Or you have a pose that you like but the color is washed out or has a weird blue cast. But you have another photo that shows the perfect coat color – send them both. Or you have a picture of the scaredy cat but her eyes are super wide open and you like the other one with her eyes partially closed but her chin is missing – send them both. Send them ALL!

PLEASE, NO FILTERS

I am a professional photographer with top of the line software. Please don’t edit or add filters to the image. You’d be amazed what I can do with your image right out of the camera/phone. Send it to me with as few edits as possible.

 

BUT I DON’T HAVE A “GOOD” CAMERA

Cell phone photographs are just fine. Make sure your phone is set to take photographs in as high resolution as the phone is capable. Don’t worry about special settings like “portrait”. We’re just looking for a clear photograph. When you send me the images in email, attach them to the email instead of embedding them (where they pop up in the body of the email – you want to use the little paper clip). I recommend downloading them to your computer and sending them that way. If you send them directly from your phone, many email programs will compress the images to make them a smaller file size. I want as many pixels as I can get!

 

*If you have a professional photograph of your pet that you would like me to paint, you will need to get written permission from the photographer.

** If you live in Central Ohio, I offer a reduced session fee to take reference photographs of your pets for paintings. No big equipment or backdrops – just me, a camera, and my experience.

| THAT DOGGONE CAT |

Last spring we took in a multitude of neighborhood feral kittens and our livestock guardian dog, an Akbash named Piper, took to them like a mama hen. LGDs have a very strong protective and guarding instinct that makes them weak in the knees around baby animals – from goats to sheep to fowl to, apparently, kittens.

I wanted to commemorate Piper’s relationship with the kittens in an image I titled “Protector of the Small” (the title of one of my favorite Tamora Pierce series). The image evolved as I tried to add more personality to it and played around with different kitten poses. I ended up completely overwhelmed by my kitten choices and a massive creative block. While explaining my dilemma to a fellow artist, she looked at the image and said, “The story’s the expression. Forget everything else.”

And she was right.

Protector of the Small
The Unexpected Sitter
Aaack!

| Double Dog Dare |

I was approached to do a custom composition in the style of my personal projects. This isn’t something I do often because it’s very time-consuming and personal. But I was willing to give it a try as it was a gift for a special friend. I was given the general parameters and a choice of multiple photographs, most of which were culled from Facebook. I ran into an unexpected issue when I decided to sketch the dogs’ right side – they’re both show dogs and almost exclusively photographed from their left side! I sketched out the idea while chatting with the client and then sent a final sketch for approval before beginning the composite. We went through a couple edits – changing the background and tweaking some of the details – before the painting was officially done. I call it “Double Dog Dare”. 

Initial sketch while chatting with the client.

Final sketch before beginning compositing.

Final painting.

Painting printed on fine art paper and mounted on 1/4″ styrene.

Bombay | A Digital Painting

A recipient of one of my paintings contacted me asking if I could paint her friend’s puppy as a gift. She had a few photos and wasn’t sure which would be the best one to paint. This is totally normal – I rarely have clients who know exactly what image they want painted! I asked her to send me her favorites and I would help her whittle them down. We ended up picking one and during subsequent conversations, I discovered that this image would hang in her friend’s lake house. I decided to emphasize the lake background that was in one of the other images as well as give the pup a more relaxed open-mouthed smile since this was a happy place.

I painted the image, got approval from the client that it was acceptable (well, technically the response was, “THAT LOOKS AMAZING!!!! She is going to DIE!” and while I don’t particularly want my painting recipients to pass away, I thought that was a positive response.), and sent the file to my vendor to be professionally printed on high quality canvas and stretched.

About Me

I'm an internationally award-winning pet photographer, digital artist, and author. My chili has won a few trophies as well! I live in Grove City, Ohio with a multitude of pets and a very patient school teacher. I love meeting new people and am more than happy to chat about dogs and photography.

Contact me

Social Media

Purchase “Setterly Yours”

Instagram

The Lisping What?

The Lisping What?

If you're curious as to how this blog got its name, check out the Model Spotlight post about Finch. He's The Lisping Dog!

Recent Posts

Let’s Talk About Filters

Anybody with a smartphone has some experience with filters. Instagram has a bevy of different options to change the color tone or contrast of your picture with the touch of a button. There are some phone and computer applications out there that can convert your picture to a painting in seconds! I’m not going to review any of them but there are definitely some good ones on the market.

When people see my digital paintings I occasionally get comments such as, “Oh, I could do that with a filter!” So I decided to do an experiment and compare two filters – one free and readily available, one higher end that’s used frequently in the artist community – with my own digital painting.

The image to the right is the one that I received to paint. This is Angel who recently passed away; her owners wanted a portrait of her. The painting took approximately three hours to complete and was printed on fine art paper and framed. Zero filters were used in the completion of the image – every stroke is done by hand using a tablet and stylus.

There is a time and place for filters and I’ve done some great work with them in the past. But rest assured that every piece of art you receive from me is absolutely unique and cannot be replicated by any filter. Take a look at the examples below. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding!

 

I don’t know who “they” are but I figured I should consult the Wictionary about that odd little proverb…

Etymology
This proverb dates back at least to the 14th century as “Jt is ywrite that euery thing Hymself sheweth in the tastyng”, and William Camden stated it in 1605 in Remaines of a Greater Worke, Concerning Britaine as “All the proofe of a pudding, is in the eating”, per Rogers’ Dictionary of Cliche and the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.

A 1682 translation of Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux Le Lutrin (written between 1672 and 1674) renders it “The proof of th’ pudding’s seen i’ the eating.”

The shorter form “the proof is in the pudding”, which dates back to the 1920s and came into common use in the United States in the 1950s, is becoming increasingly common.

Proverb
You can only say something is a success after it has been tried out or used.
I know you didn’t think it was a very good product, but just look at the fantastic sales figures. That’s the proof of the pudding.

One of the first differences you’ll notice is the background. Unless a specific background is requested for a portrait, I’ll remove any visual distractions and place the dog on a studio-like neutral background. Then I use my editing skills as a professional photographer to bring out contrast and texture in the fur and remove collars and/or leashes. The eyes are key so I spend a lot of time hand-painting detail back into the eyes and adding catchlights. None of this is included in any painting app.

Image painted with the free “one button click” filter.

Image painted with the higher end filter.

Image painted digitally by hand.

The completed painting.

Commemorative Paintings

What is a Commemorative Painting?

As much as our pets mean to us, it’s frequently not until they’ve left us that we realize we don’t have a great image to provide us with comfort. Half of the images aren’t even printed, just languishing on our cell phones. While I would love to provide you with a photographic session, due to distance or time, that’s not always possible. The solution is a commemorative painting. Paintings can provide joy and consolation to those enduring the loss of a loved one, reminding them of good times, smiles, and love.
I can work from reference images, even the ones on your cell phone, to create a painting celebrating your pet that you will cherish and display proudly in your home. I’m also frequently approached by those who want to give a custom painting to a friend or family member. While most of my subjects are pets, I’ve also been commissioned to paint people and even homes. I paint digitally, on a computer, using digital brushes and paints. Some of the benefits of a digital painting is that they can be printed to any size and on any surface and I can make minor changes even after you see your proof. You can also have multiple copies if you’d like. Once painted, the file is provided to a print vendor that works exclusively with photographers and artists to create archival products. If desired, I can also have the image professionally matted and framed so that it’s ready to hang upon arrival. My goal is to provide you with a finished piece of wall art that you absolutely love. I am an internationally award-winning digital artist and was recently named the 2018 Artist of the Year by the Professional Photographers of Ohio. I am constantly working on improving my skills and finding new and better ways to provide my clients with my best possible work. For more information, go to pouka.com/paintings or view my portfolio at pouka.com/portfolio.  And I’m always happy to answer your questions if you email me at info@pouka.com!
People always say to take a lot of pictures and capture memories. That if you don’t you might regret not having moments to look back on. These words fell true when my sweet Hanna became ill and I realized I didn’t have very many “decent” photos of her.  I contacted Danica to see if she could work with any of the photos I had.  Thanks to her amazing talents with digital painting, Danica was able to salvage a mediocre photo of my sweet girl and turn it into a gorgeous piece of art that I will cherish for many years.
Marcie

Painesville, OH

I was so very impressed and happy with Danica’s work on the picture of my English Setter Bucky that I got my mom one of her Golden Retriever for Mothers Day! So much talent! You will not be disappointed! Thank you Danica for making my boy Bucky shine bright!!
Erin

Michigan

About Me

I'm an internationally award-winning pet photographer, digital artist, and author. My chili has won a few trophies as well! I live in Grove City, Ohio with a multitude of pets and a very patient school teacher. I love meeting new people and am more than happy to chat about dogs and photography.

Contact me

Social Media

Purchase “Setterly Yours”

Instagram

The Lisping What?

The Lisping What?

If you're curious as to how this blog got its name, check out the Model Spotlight post about Finch. He's The Lisping Dog!

Recent Posts

Shazier | Model Spotlight

Full Name/Nicknames: Shazier Breed: Labrador Retriever/Australian Cattle Dog mix Age: 9 weeks Gender: Male Favorite Activities: Peeing in the house, chewing on stuff, and playing tug
Shazier is the newest member of my extended family. Named after former Buckeye football player and current Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier, he was my sister’s Christmas present. After recently losing her senior heart-dog, her youngest daughter put out feelers for a new puppy and coincidentally found a litter of Lab mixes just down the street! Shazier joined the family shortly before the holiday and settled right on in! He’s a spunky solid little bundle of fuzz and he’s learning the ropes very quickly. Smart, active, and pretty responsive, he was a bit of a challenge in the studio!! We kept the energy level low and calm and let him discover the space for himself. He’s very food motivated so we managed to get him on the backdrop for a few shots. Thankfully I have fast firing strobes so he didn’t have to sit still too long!!

About Me

I'm an internationally award-winning pet photographer, digital artist, and author. My chili has won a few trophies as well! I live in Grove City, Ohio with a multitude of pets and a very patient school teacher. I love meeting new people and am more than happy to chat about dogs and photography.

Contact me

Social Media

Purchase “Setterly Yours”

Instagram

The Lisping What?

The Lisping What?

If you're curious as to how this blog got its name, check out the Model Spotlight post about Finch. He's The Lisping Dog!

Recent Posts

Fairytails

PRESS RELEASE | Grove City, OH – Photographer Danica Barreau has gone to the dogs. To be fair, she’s a professional pet photographer so that’s nothing surprising. Mrs. Barreau is a certified professional photographer working out of a small home studio in central Ohio who recently started working on a new personal project called “Fairytails”. “I love old fairytales and I wanted to incorporate some of my dog models into the stories,” said the artist. It all started when she was coming up with ideas for a children’s book and took some photographs of her deaf English Setter wearing a spectacular crown. The image, named “My Fairy Dogmother”, was a hit with her fan following and won multiple awards. It’s also been named one of the top ten pet portraits in this year’s Grand Imaging Awards hosted by the Professional Photographers of America. Mrs. Barreau’s latest image is an homage to “The Princess and the Pea” featuring a tower of the eco-friendly Molly Mutt dog beds. She quickly explained that the dog was never in any danger of falling. The image is a composite; the dog was photographed lying on the top two beds and then composited onto a second image with the remaining beds. Mrs. Barreau’s digital artistry skills have earned her several medals in International Print Competition and she doesn’t hesitate to tweak the images to match her imagination.   Keep an eye out for the completed project coming next spring. In the meantime, you can find Mrs. Barreau’s book about English Setters, “Setterly Yours: A Photographic Introduction to The English Setter” on Amazon and at Barnes and Nobles. For more information about her photography and artwork, visit pouka.com.

About Me

I'm an internationally award-winning pet photographer, digital artist, and author. My chili has won a few trophies as well! I live in Grove City, Ohio with a multitude of pets and a very patient school teacher. I love meeting new people and am more than happy to chat about dogs and photography.

Contact me

Social Media

Purchase “Setterly Yours”

Instagram

The Lisping What?

The Lisping What?

If you're curious as to how this blog got its name, check out the Model Spotlight post about Finch. He's The Lisping Dog!

Recent Posts

SHARING IS CARING!

My Fairy Dogmother

“My Fairy Dogmother” is my second International Photographic Competition Loan image . It is another “case filler”, an image not originally intended for competition and stuck into a case to fill it out. I was shooting an image for a children’s book I’m working on called “Finch and The Spot Fairy”. I was trying out various crowns to see how they would photograph and Sparrow was modeling with her typical bored expression. “Yeah, fine. But there had better be treats later.”

This was the final image:

One of the test images turned out pretty well – I loved the way the light fell on her so I tacked on some wings and posted her on my business page.

The post. Blew. Up. The image reached over 48 THOUSAND people and was shared over 2,000 times. That’s… uh… a bit more than my usual reach. So when I was looking for an image to pad out my case for the spring State Print Competition, I figured I would go with my FB followers’ gut and add this one. I took off the wings (no added elements for a portrait submission) and submitted “My Fairy Dogmother.”  It scored an 82 with no challenge. That seemed about right to me so I prepared to submit it to our Northeast District competition. I made a few tweaks, adding a bit of light, taking down some highlights on the crown, toning down the background texture, and fixing some pearls that were damaged.

At District judging “My Fairy Dogmother” scored an 88 and then was challenged. 88 was already the highest score I’d ever received in competition. Imagine my surprise when one of the judges insisted that this image deserved a 100. A ONE HUNDRED. I started crying. Seriously. Ugly sobbing tears. The judges rescored and I ended up with a 97; what we call an auto-loan. Images with 95 and above don’t get rejudged at International. They go straight through. This was officially an IPC Loan Image. I was on cloud nine for a week afterward and I still get a little verklempt thinking about it.  The image then went on to win third place in the overall Grand Imaging Awards, the Oscars of the photography world!

About Me

I'm an internationally award-winning pet photographer, digital artist, and author. My chili has won a few trophies as well! I live in Grove City, Ohio with a multitude of pets and a very patient school teacher. I love meeting new people and am more than happy to chat about dogs and photography.

Contact me

Social Media

Purchase “Setterly Yours”

Instagram

The Lisping What?

The Lisping What?

If you're curious as to how this blog got its name, check out the Model Spotlight post about Finch. He's The Lisping Dog!

Recent Posts

SHARING IS CARING!