- Take photos of pets outdoors without a flash to avoid the big "red eye" effect; an overcast day is better than bright sunshine or dark shadows.
- If indoors is necessary, try to position the pet near a window of bright light and take the shots without a flash.
- Watch out for too much lighting contrast, which can "blow out" the whites and make all the darks very black. When I paint an all-white dog or an all black dog, it's the subtle highlights and subtle shading which make the difference.
- It is also best to get at eye-level with the dog, not standing above looking down at his/her face... makes for a much more personal view. You might have to lie belly-down on the ground, but it will be worth it!
- Take loads of photos, since pets don't always give their full attention! You can try several angles, too: side, 3/4 view, head-on, tilted head.
Hope this helps! Shown are my portraits of a white-faced dog "Tom" and a black dog "Davis" (I titled this painting "Single Malt" after his Scottish ancestry). It was a surprise to me how many pale pastel colors I had to use to paint Tom's face and make it look 3-dimensional and realistic.