I use your own photos as reference for my portrait, so I thought it might be useful to share some basic pet photography tips. If the photo I’m drawing from is of poor quality, the drawing process is much more difficult because I have to guess at what I am seeing. Sometimes there is no way around this, for example if the pet has passed and cannot be re-photographed. So take every opportunity to photograph your pet now and get as many clear images as possible. Take as many as necessary, be experimental, try to get different angles in various lighting until you have more than one successful photograph. It is best if I have more than one photo to draw from.

Here are a few pet photography tips to help you achieve the best [reference] photo of your pet:

1) Get on Their Level. Sit or kneel so you can get low enough for a pet’s-eye view of the world. Aim your camera from different heights, so you’re shooting a portrait and not a snapshot.
2) Get a Good Angle. I think the ideal angle for a pet portrait is a 3/4 front view, somewhere between a frontal view and a profile.
3) Stay Focused. Your pet’s eyes are their most expressive feature, so be sure they — and the whole face — are in focus.
4) Use the Right Light. Outdoor photos on a bright but cloudy day are best since flash photos indoors tend to wash out the details in the shadows (and reflects the back of the eye).
5) Use Contrasting Backgrounds. If your pet has dark hair, photograph them in front of a lighter background, and vice versa.

These two photos demonstrate good lighting, good focus, 3/4 angle and contrasting background. Nice job!
These two photos demonstrate pet photography Steps 1-5. Nice job!

6) Stand Back. Instead of getting physically close to your pet, take the shot from a bit further back. Your pet will tend to act more naturally without having the camera in their space, and your photo won’t be as distorted or out of focus. Avoid using the zoom feature, which can distort details. The photo will hold up better if you crop a photo than if you zoom it.
7) Snap Away. For every great shot, you’re likely to have many more that don’t turn out. So take lots of photos, you can always delete the ones that didn’t turn out.
8) Be Ready, BePatient. Keep your camera close at hand, you never know when that “prize” photo will happen.
9) Steady Now. Camera shake can ruin an otherwise good photo, so try using a tripod mount or stand (or use any stable surface) to diminish motion blur.
10) Fun & Games. Keep photo sessions short and fun. Don’t get discouraged if your pet doesn’t cooperate right away; use a friend to play with them so you can be ready to snap that special shot.