Photography Tips & Requirements

A good quality reference photo is the foundation of beautiful realistic painting. If you’re interested in what makes a good and bad photo then please carry on reading this article, however as always if you’re concerned please feel free to email me at

Which lighting?

Natural lighting is more suitable for portraiture as artificial lighting can quite often alter the colour of the fur. Photos taken in the dark with a flash can often lead to red eye, unnatural shadows and coat shine this can be removed and altered for the painting but it is preferable if possible to take photos outside.

Get Up Close

Photos that are taken at a distance when you zoom into the photo on the computer there often isn’t enough information in the photo to work from. Digital SLR cameras are fantastic for capturing details no matter the distance however if you’re using a smartphone then I do recommend getting up close, photos taken from smart phones can be fantastic references.

If you’re looking to get a full body portrait done its recommended to fill the photo with as much of the horse as possible, get as close as you can while still seeing the whole of the horse. Then take a couple steps towards the horse for a nice close up picture so the details are easily viewable. This isn’t necessary but highly recommended for full body paintings.

Which Camera?

I’ve created paintings taken from phones, tablets or DSLR cameras. DSLR’s are always preferred, the detail captured is quite often more suitable. That being said photos taken from phones and tablets can be used so long as the photo is clear and close up.


Action Shots!

Action shots can make lovely paintings, they really capture a moment you would like to keep forever. However, they can quite often be quite out of focus, so long as action shots are clear they can make fantastic paintings.

Good action shot. The horse is clear in focus and the lighting is all natural.

 Bad action shot. Some of the horse is cropped, out of focus and partly covered by the fence.

TIP: Animals jumping are often better photographed before or over the fence as this really shows their power and scope. Similarly in trot and canter horses pictured striding off or in the air look a lot more powerful than when they land, so try to picture the horse with its front legs off the ground for a more powerful shot.

But is My Photo Suitable?

If you’re still unsure if your photos can be used then please feel free to email me! I’m quite happy to work from low quality photos, maybe the subject can’t be photographed, however they’re very rarely unusable so please don’t hesitate to ask if you’re unsure. The lower the quality the less details available in the photo so do please keep this in mind, I would recommend a smaller painting, possibly miniature if the quality is very low.

The more photos you have the better so never hesitate to send me as many photos as you possibly can!