photography for portrait paintings

Photographing a Portrait for Pets or People PortraitsPhotography Tips for Portrait Paintings - Portraits from your Photos

These tips are for the artist to paint from photos and are not a true indication of good photography skills for other uses.


Photographing Portrait Poses- Pets,People

Photography Portrait Tips - Pet Portraits Cats, Dogs,Birds, Rabbits, Horses etc

If you have decided to get a portrait done of your pet, then really think about the pose that best typifies how you will always want to remember them by. Next put aside some time for the photographying of your pet. Have your camera ready, be patient and take your time for that best shot. You can get someone to help you engage your pet into a game or maybe just photograph them in some of their unusual sleeping poses be it Cats or Dogs.

Have a Treat or Toy, Camera, Friend ready
This is helpful to get the attention of your pet. So if you are taking the photo have a friend nearby to assist in positioning the pet. Wave the treat under the nose of your pet and lift it up to the camera.

Location for the Portrait - Garden,home,or on holiday!
Make sure there's contrast - a dark background for a light-coloured animal for example helps me to see your pet more clearly. This photo of a dog portrait was taken again a garden that the owner loved. The stricking play of light made it an interesting portrait.

Pet portrait photo tipsUse natural lighting when possible. Go outside if you can. If taking photos inside, get close to a natural source of light and please do not use a flash so close to drain the colours out of their coat. A flash is necessary for dark coated dogs so you get a sheen on their coat. You could take one photo with the flash for the coat effects and one photo without the flash and using natural light on the face for the correct colour of the eyes etc. Avoid red eye at all costs!

A Reward
Don't forget to have a reward for your pet for letting you take the photo. Your reward will be when you get that portrait exactly as you want

NB. I often make a portrait from several photos of the subject so don't worry how many photos you take to get what you want. I like the photo to be about 5 pixels, clear and in focus and all the pet parts together.


Best Portrait Photos for Painting

Photography Portrait Tips - Portraits Generally

1. Subject should be relaxed, comfortable (I don't like to paint teeth -often ask them to close their mouth but smiles are often part of the character so sometimes must accept the teeth) Especially I don't like portraits taken with a flash so NO FLASH PLEASE ! - This drains the colour out of their face.
2. Head and Shoulder axis - most flattering - shoulders turned at an angle to the camera. If shoulders face camera straight on person looks wider than he or she is. Head turned at different direction to shoulders. Men often have head same direction as shoulders,women the head is usually at an angle that opposes the line of the body.
3. The arms - arms best to project outward to provide sloping line. Men - hands in pockets,women hands to waist providing a slight space between upper arms and torso gives a triangular base in composition making ones eye move upward to face.
4. Weight on back foot - shoulders at right angle to camera,dropping rear shoulder to be lower than front shoulder position.
5. Hands - too close to camera will appear too large. Longer than normal lens helps this. In portrait to paint can focus on face in pose and then more on hands in same pose in next shot (information from both photos will be enough to paint)
6. More on Hands - always photograph fingers slighly separated and photo outer edge of hand. This will create flow on of line from hand to wrist.
7. For head-and-shoulders portraits camera height same as high as the tip of subjects nose.
8. For 3/4 length portraits -have the camera height midway between subject's waist and neck.
9.In full-length portraits, camera same height as subject's waist. Cameras height should divide equally the length of subject stopping a receding effect from occurring.
10. Raising the cameras height lengthens the nose,narrows the chin and jaw and broadens the forehead. Lowering cameras height shortens the nose, lessens the emphasis on the forehead and widens the jaw line and accentuates the chin.
11. Spectacles - move the main light to side and raise it so that the angle of reflection is directed away from the camera.Can ask person to slighly tilt glasses down to stop reflection. Thick glasses record eyes darker than rest of face. Please do not ask the subject to take off their glasses as this is part of their character!
12.Some photographers cluster shapes similar face types together in portrait. Like to move the viewers eye through the photo by viewing repeated shapes (face matches)

Right Portrait Pose

13. The Armchair - posing device for 3 to 8 people. Chair 30 - 45 degrees to camera. Subject seated laterally across the seat cushion and on edge of chair so that weight does not rest on the chair back thus giving good sitting posture and narrow the lines of the waist and hips for both men and women. One person is seated usually man and other person close to or on arm of chair, leaning on far armrest. Faces are best at close proximity but different heights. Can vary this to have woman seated and man standing. If heads far apart then pull back and make the portrait full-length.
14. Couples - one person slightly higher,mouth of lower person even with forehead of higher person.(mouth to eyes stategy best) More dynamic is 2 people at 45degree angle to each other so their shoulders face in toward on another. Another is 2 profiles of each other with one still higher than other. Have frontal planes of subjects faces parallel so you can hold focus on both faces.
15. Third Person = triad. Vary heights, turn shoulders of those at either end toward central person. Look for interplay of lines and shapes inherent in good group design. Can vary height and line etc for variety which makes it more interesting.
16. 4th,5th person -even nos harder to pose than odd. Keep camera plane parallel to plane of faces to keep in focus. With 4 people have one in front and 3 behind. If 5 people in group - break up of 3 and 2 etc - keeping things uneven. Think in terms of triangles,diamonds and curved lines. Think lines,shapes,direction as you build groups.

17. MOST IMPORTANTLY - I think that group portraits are most interest if they are unusual or people are involved in an interesting activity. See this example.

Group example photo Gardening Group Portrait


If in doubt about group photos then take a photo of each person and I will assemble the grouping with your ideas in mind. Click Contact to help your order decisions.


Photography Portrait Tips - Children, Baby, Newborn Portraits


Take photo at eye level (babies or children)or slightly lower. Please do not use a flash as this drains the colour out of their face. If you can use manual focus this is preferred for a more natural colouring. Make sure the photo is in focus and the parts of the child,baby you want painted is in the picture.

Getting on your hands and knees or crouching down before you take a shot of a child takes you into their world and helps you to engage with them through the images you take.

If photographing a baby place them on a rug that you will want painted with props that you want included in your portrait. You may need to lie down next to them with your camera right on the floor to take the shot. In this way you’re looking directly into their beautiful eyes. If the child has the ability to lift it’s head all the better.

Photographing Older Children
The same principle of getting down low applies with older children although you do have a little less lying on the floor with them when they are at an age of walking.

Taking photos of them when they are involved in doing something they enjoy helps alot to get natural portraits. Again - Please do not use a flash as this drains the colour out of their face. See some examples of photos and paintings I have done. Notice I like a shadow on one side of the face. I like to paint highlights on the hair.

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Portrait Artist Cynthia Hargraves


Art Portraits Paintings-Contemporary Canvas oil portraits paintings,pastel portraits,charcoal or watercolour portraits for all occasions

Commissioned Oil Portrait paintings are created on the finest quality materials. Canvas is usually by Fredrix and Winsor & Newton Professional Artists Brand is used. Best quality art materials are standard while the Commissioned Portrait Paintings are fully tailored to the needs of the clients.

Commissioned Pastel,Pencil or Charcoal drawings,sketches or paintings are also created in the finest quality art materials to meet the needs of the clients.

Although I prefer to paint the subjects from life there are many reasons why this is unsuitable and photographs must be used. In these cases the client can either take the photo or I can if visiting my studio. At other times I can catch an aeroplane and fly to your location to take the best photo. If taking the photo yourself please visit my website page on....


If contains alot of valuable information on People and Animal Portraits so you can ensure you get the portrait you will treasure for life.

PRICES: To view prices please click the link at the top of the page. It folds down to reveal different sizes which gives a rough guideline of the cost to the size you require. Please Contact me via PH: 0488 288 512 or click this link: Email me to discuss your painting needs. In the many years as working as a Portrait artist I have painted many difficult requests some of these range from deceased children who have died soon after birth and had to paint them at age 9yrs of age to making subjects younger or even sprouting wings. When painting from photos I usually paint from several photos and arrange them in a family setting. Mock-ups give a client an idea of what they will get.

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adults,babies,children,teenagers and pets.The best childrens or family portrait painter is important to commission as Memorable Gift Portraits mark the milestones in a child's development from babies and children through to teenagers and adults. Birthday parties,weddings,first day at school, graduations, their first pet-dog or cat, sports or academic achievements can be made a momentos occasion with a heirloom portrait that can be kept for posterity. Often times photos fail to capture all that needs to be said about the child as in their hobbies,interests and endearing habits. Where a photo of a family often fails to capture all the children in the best expressions a group portrait easily expresses the loving unity of a family. More information on the Process of Commissioning a Portrait Painting can be viewed on this link>>> How to get a Portrait Painted

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Top Portrait Painters - Personal wedding portraits hold great meaning and are very memorable and sentimental gifts of love in the form of art. Although many of my art portraits are held in private collections many more have received art awards for their appeal. Selecting the right setting for the portrait in the best light and capturing the greatest expression that typifies the subject is often impossible to do in photos. Often the portrait painters subject/subjects must sit for the artist to let the artist understand their nature and do many colour studies and sketches for the painting to be at its best. Then photographs can then be used as a back stop for the collection of ideas and positions. All paintings are done in the highest professional quality materials and whether choosing oils,pastels or charcoal for the commission no painting will be sold unless the client is fully satisfied with the workmanship. Click to View Clients Comments

Portrait Artist Cynthia Hargraves

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Professional Portrait Artist: Cynthia Hargraves provides the best professional custom portraiture for order. Her service is local,experienced, reliable and affordable. She is an Australian Artist who will fly to locations for requests for portraits in remote areas. Please view Clients Testimonials on the service

Personal wedding portraits commissions hold great meaning and are very memorable and sentimental. Although many of my portraits commissions are held in private collections many more have recieved awards for their appeal. Selecting the right setting for the portrait in the best light and capturing the greatest expression that typifies the subject is often impossible to do in photos.

Ring: 0488 288 512

Often the portrait subject/subjects must sit for the artist to let the artist understand their nature and do many colour studies and sketches for the painting to be at its best. Then photos can then be used as a back stop for the collection of ideas and positions. All paintings are done in the highest professional quality materials and whether choosing oils,pastels or charcoal for the commission no painting will be sold unless the client is fully satisfied with the workmanship. So whether you are commissioning a picture for a wedding gift,corporate art,birthday, unique baby shower, family group,pet portrait or simply using it as a collectible or interior decorating idea to decorate your home you will have a portait to keep worthy of any gallery.

The Artist....

Cynthia Hargraves is a successful award winning, published, Master Pastellist and full time Australian Portrait Artist. Cynthia's works are held in many private collections both nationally and internationally. Commissioned portraits extend from Brisbane, Gold Coast and Queensland to Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Tasmania, Adelaide and Perth, other rural areas of Australia as well as Worldwide. For more on Cynthia Hargraves Qualifications, Experience, Art exhibitions and Gallery information .


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