photography for portrait paintings

Photography 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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