Reference Photographs

The combination of a beautifully detailed drawing with excellent photography is what truly sets Becky apart from other talented animal artists.  Her photography works in harmony with her drawing, she includes a photo shoot with all her commissions and her exhibition work is all referenced from her own photographs.  The combination of high quality, insightful photography and highly realistic drawing techniques produces stunning images full of character and fun.  However good the drawing, if done from a poor quality, boring photograph the finished artwork will never “pop”.

Inclusive Photo Shoot

In ideal circumstances Becky likes to meet the animals in person and photograph them herself, this not only allows her to ensure she has good quality photographs to work from but also gives her the chance to get to know the animal and better portray their character through her work.  Becky works very accurately from one or two high quality photographs which are chosen in conjunction with the client from the photo-shoot.  Photo shoots are offered inclusive with your commission at any location within 10 miles of Winslow, Bucks, UK.  She can offer a range of suitable scenic locations for people portraits and for dogs, cats, horses and other large animals within this area.  For locations outside of this area an additional fee will be required to cover the cost of travel and extra time, please contact Becky for a quote in this instance.

Using Photo from Professional Photographers

Becky is happy to work from photographs taken by other people, including professional photographers but in these situations she will require written permission via email from the photographer in order to comply with UK copyright laws.

Memorial Portraits

Becky can also work from client’s own photographs particularly for memorial drawings or mail-order commissions.  In the case of memorial portraits Becky will accept lower quality images where no alternative is available.  Please be advised that in this situation the finished work may not be completed the same level of detail and accuracy as usual.

Have a Go Yourself!

If you are further afield or wish to have a go at photographing your pet yourself Becky has put together some guidance for capturing that perfect shot!

A Word on Light…..

Good lighting is key to obtaining excellent detail in a photo.  I advise against using flash wherever possible as this can cause ugly shadows and “red eye”, the flash may also unsettle any timid pets.

The best place to take photos is outside on a slightly over-cast day.  Strong, direct sunlight can cast shadows which can be unflattering.  If it is very sunny, try to find a patch of solid shade to photograph in (avoid trees as this can cause “spots” of shadow).

Back lit photos (the source of light being behind the subject) can look beautiful in their own right but rarely make good reference photos as the detail in the subject tends to be in shadow.  Try to have the light source shining to the front or at 45 degrees to one side of your subject.

Get Down!

Some of the best photos I’ve drawn from have been taken from the animals’ eye line.  That normally means, for example, getting down low….. very low if you have a Chiwawa or a hamster!  Or perhaps standing on a stool if you’re photographing a horse!  Think about how the animal views the world around them and try to imitate this to see things from their perspective, if they are laying down then copy them!  You doing this usually interests the animal too, they will become curious and it can help with achieving that quirky, curious expression!

Zoom in

In order to make the most out of the quality of the image it’s important to fill the whole picture with your subject.  If you take the photo from a long distance, when you zoom in on the bit with the pet in you lose quality.  Try to get in close to the head and shoulders to capture detail in the face.

The Eyes Have It!

The key to most good images is clear detail in the eye and eye contact to the camera.  It can be incredibly useful to have someone else on hand with a bag of treats!  Get them to hold the treat as close to the camera lens as possible to direct the pet’s gaze, I often balance one on the camera lens itself!

Another vital tool in your armoury is a squeaky toy, save it for the key moment…. Get set up, have the animal in the right place, with the right lighting, frame your photo and JUST before you take the photo give it a quick squeak right from behind the camera then snap the perfect shot!

Character & Context

You know your pet best.  You know their favourite toy…. their favourite spot for a nap….. their favourite game…. their naughtiest trick.  Use this knowledge when you’re taking their photo and try to include these things in the image.

The Technical Bit….. (bear with me)

Because of the level of detail I work to it is important to me that the photograph is a good size and that when I zoom in the eyes, nose and fur texture are visible and as clear as possible.  As a minimum I would advise a 6 megapixel camera (giving an image of around 6 megabytes in size with dimensions of approximately 3000 x 2000 pixels).  To check the quality of a photo I advise opening it on a computer and zooming in, if the image goes “blocky” before it shows detail in the eye it is likely to be too low quality to use for a drawing.  You are always welcome to send me over an image you have in mind and I am happy to check this for you.

I strongly advise against using any photograph that has been uploaded to Facebook, Instagram or other social media or transferred via Facebook Messenger.  The reason for this is that these programs automatically reduce the quality of the image to a level below that required for drawing.  It is possible to obtain good quality images from mobile phone photos (if the phone has a good camera) but the photos must be emailed directly to me, not sent via messenger.

The only exceptions I make to the above guidance on quality is for memorial portraits.  In this situation I will always try my best to work from whatever images the client has available in the understanding that the finished product may include less detail than the majority of my work.

Enjoy It…..

The most important tip is to relax, play, take your time, take A LOT of photos (I sometimes take up to 500 in one shoot!) and enjoy this special time with your pet.  We are only blessed with their company for a very short time so take this opportunity to bond and make special memories that will stay with you forever.

I really look forward to seeing what you capture!

In Summary

To help you on the day, you might want to note down or print out the following summary:

  1. Photograph outside on an overcast day
  2. Get down to eye level with your pet
  3. Fill the frame of the picture with your subject
  4. Use treats or a squeaky toy to get their attention right before taking the shot
  5. Consider including a favourite toy, game, napping spot
  6. +6 megapixel camera
  7. Email photos or send via wetransfer directly to:
  8. Take A LOT of photos
  9. Take your time, relax and enjoy yourself

If you’d like to read more on this subject the following are links to excellent guides on taking photos of your pets.