Pet Portraits by Amanda Dockerty
Pet portraits by Amanda Dockerty

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Jack russell pet portrait

Spaniel full body pet portrait


Pet Portrait photo tips


You don't have to be a professional photographer to take good photographs!

All animals have their own distinct characteristics and behaviours. Some appear to co-operate when having their photograph taken while others seem to do everything they can to thwart all your efforts - no matter how patient you are! There are however some things you can do to increase your chance of obtaining a good photograph of your pet.

HelpBoxer dog

Firstly, from experience it is easier to photograph pets if you have a helper (or two) to distract the animal while you take the photographs (or vice versa). This is particularly so in the case of lively animals such as dogs. Nobody knows your pet better than you so you will know how to distract him/her while the photographs are taken. Use whatever works for your pet - a favourite toy, a distracting noise etc.

Try to get down to the animals level when taking the photographs.

Don't worry about people being in the photograph. Get photographs of the animal from various angles and if an assistant has to hold onto the animal to enable you to do this, that's fine. The idea is to capture the detail in the animals markings etc. and this often requires several photographs, particularly for a full body portrait.


If possible take the photographs outdoors in daylight. This shows the animal in the best light and is more likely to show it's colouring accurately. By photographing in daylight you also avoid the 'red-eye' effect in flash photography which makes it impossible to see eye detail. It is the eye detail in Amanda's portraits that really bring the subject to life.

Fill the Frame

Try to fill the frame with the subject. Be careful not to crop off bits of the animal though! and don't get too close when using a standard lens on a 'compact' camera as this may distort the animals features in the photograph. It is easier to fill the frame by using a camera with a zoom lens, particularly if the animal is excitable or nervous.

Golden Retriever dog  Golden Retriever dog head photo  Golden Retriever dog  Golden Retriever dog

Toys and accessories

If you want other items in the portrait be sure to include it in the photograph or take a seperate photograph of it and Amanda will incorporate the item in the finished portrait. A favourite toy is a popular item to include in a pet portrait.

If your pet has a particular characteristic, perhaps a coloured patch on one ear or different coloured eyes be sure to include photographs showing these details.

Group portraits

Remember, for a group portrait all the subjects do not have to be on the same photograph. Photographs of each individual subject on it's own will suffice. Amanda will bring all the subjects together in the portrait and arrange them as requested.

Amanda often receives requests for portraits of a deceased pet, by itself or with a new pet. If you do not have sufficient photographs of a deceased pet Amanda will try to achieve a good likeness using any photograph(s) you do have, combining that with her knowledge of the particular type of animal and discussions with you.