What makes a good reference photo for my painting

I paint from high resolution reference photos supplied by email. The best paintings come from the best images. I will review images and let you know if they are acceptable but here are some guidelines for what I am looking for.

1. Expression: Does your pet have an expression that is meaningful to you? Are the eyes bright? Does it truly display your best friend’s personality?

2. Lighting: Flash distorts lighting and destroys eye details. Please do not use flash photography. Is the animal lit well enough that hair texture is visible? Is there good separation between lights and darks? Images with contrast are far more interesting than flat lighting with no dimension.

3. Focus: This point is critical. Is the animal in crisp focus? I paint from an enlargement of the file supplied. If the resolution is low or the focus is soft, it only gets worse when enlarged and I cannot see important details that I need for a nice painting. I cannot paint what I cannot see.

4. Clear definition: Make sure the animal, particularly the head and eyes, is in full view and not cut off or blocked by another object. I cannot extract an animal from a group shot since details will be blocked from view and shadows will be visible from adjacent objects.

This is an example of a nice source image. Expression is good. It’s well lit. Eyes and hair are clearly visible. Taken with Samsung Note 8

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