Naomi completed a portrait of our dog as a surprise for my parents Christmas present. She did an absolutely amazing job and I would thoroughly recommend her to anyone who is looking to have a portrait of their dog done! There is so much detail in the portrait which has truly captured her personality. She took the time to get to know our dog’s character and this has definitely reflected in her portrait. A lot of talent, extremely happy with the portrait from everything to her quick replying to emails and making sure I was truly happy with the final portrait!
If there was an award for a dog breed with the most enthusiasm, I think the Cocker Spaniel would win every time. Their exuberance never seems to fade. They race around with endless amounts of energy, exploring every butterfly and blade of grass with tremendous speed, before erupting into a helter-skelter pursuit of anything that moves. You can’t help but smile when watching!
Cockers have a wonderful sense of adventure and curiosity. But their energy is also perfectly balanced by incredible loyalty and affection. Like when she steals your socks and tears around the house with them, later returning for a loving cuddle, with eyes like butter-wouldn’t-melt. Or when he spends hours out on a game shoot with you, patiently sat by your side, intently watching your body language, and waiting for that moment he can bring back your trophy catch.
Maybe your Cocker has that innate ability to sense when you’re not feeling right, and need a supportive snuggle to cheer you up. Or maybe they just love to be involved in everything you do. Your little shadow.
I want your portrait to capture everything that your Cocker Spaniel means to you. This page will guide you to get the best out of your portrait.
(For some more general dog portrait advice, see my dog portraits page).
SELECTING REFERENCE PHOTOS
The reference photos that you choose for me to work from need to tick three main boxes:
- They need to reflect your cocker spaniel’s unique personality
- They need to be taken in natural daylight, so that I can see the color of his fur.
- They need to be detailed enough so that I can clearly see his eyes and direction of his fur.
The first point is the trickiest of course, so here are a few tips to help.
When photographing your Cocker Spaniel, try to do it in an environment where she’s at her happiest, and most at ease. If she loves being outside, try photographing her in your garden or on a walk. If he’s a big swimmer and you want to capture his adventurous side, try shooting some photos of him fresh from a swim.
If your Cocker is particularly excitable, you might have trouble keeping her still long enough to photograph her. The trick here is to think what motivates her. If she loves food, try holding a tasty treat above the camera. Don’t skimp here - the tastier the better! Similarly, if she’s big into her playtime, hold her favourite toy above the lens to keep her attention.
Perhaps your spaniel is more of a snuggle bug? Try photographing him cosied up in his favourite snuggle spot. Just make sure there is enough natural daylight as dark photos are very difficult to work from.
It’s also worth thinking about whether you’d like to feature them fresh from the groomers and squeaky clean, or whether you love their wavy wayward fur, mop-top and all!
For some further photography tips, visit my photo guide.
DECIDING ON THE RIGHT POSE
Choosing a pose largely goes hand in hand with the points above, but there are a few extra things to consider.
There are likely to be certain aspects of your dog that you adore, and are keen to bring out in your portrait. For example, if you’d love to feature her beautiful soft feathery chest fur, choose a pose where she’s sitting up or standing, rather than lying down. To show off those gorgeous long fluffy ears, you might want to photograph him side on. Or if you’d love to capture that heart melting expression when she looks into your eyes, photograph her face on looking into the camera.
Whichever pose you decide on, try to photograph your dog down at her eye level. This will make for a more natural perspective.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT PORTRAIT SIZE
Now you have your photos sorted, you need to decide on your portrait size.
Cocker Spaniels have a lot going on. Their long wavy ears, the curls and swirls in their fur coat, their different colour markings. And, of course, their huge personalities! Keep this in mind when choosing the size of your portrait, as the larger sizes will allow for a lot more detail, realism and character to come across.
To give you a reference point, the two largest sizes I offer (16 x 20 inches, and 18 x 24 inches) allow for a life-sized portrait. These have the advantage of really lighting up a room and creating a visually stunning centre piece. They work especially well in a setting such as a living room. They also make for a breath-taking reaction when gifted to a loved one.
My size guide has some further information to help you decide.
CHOOSING A BACKGROUND COLOUR
Choosing the background colour is fairly straight forward. We want to choose something that compliments your dog’s fur colour nicely, but we also want to bring out their personality too.
If you photographed your adventurous companion with dripping wet fur, fresh from the lake, then a lovely light blue would work nicely. Or if she’s an expert gun-dog, always out in the field, consider a mottled green.
For a cosier feel, warm tones such as cream, stone, or warm greys work well. If your Cocker is liver, red or golden coloured, then a warm background can really complement their fur colour.
The examples below should give you some ideas about your own Cocker Spaniel portrait.