The simple answerr is YES!
The quality and clarity of reference photos is the most important aspect of pet portraiture. I can only draw what I see, with minimal improvisation/deviation from the reference. Improvisation or guesswork can alter the likeness and result in a portrait that only barely resembles the subject.
Physical photographs and digital photos which cannot be enlarged without blurring (low resolution) are extremely difficult to work from. If this is all you have I will look at them to assess their suitability and if I cannot work with them I will be honest and let you know. If they are only suitable for producing a less detailed portrait, I will also let you know, so you can decide if you want to go ahead. I dislike having to say a photo isn't suitable, but when you are paying a significant sum of money for a bespoke portrait, it's important that you know what to expect and don't end up disappointed.
As a rule of thumb, if you open your photo on a computer (laptop or larger screen size) and enlarge it so it fills the screen, if it looks very blurred, it's unlikely that I could use it as a reference.
HOWEVER, I have produced a number of portraits from very old photos which were poor quality and my clients were very happy with the results. In every case I was clear about what could and couldn't be achieved and why. They knew what to expect and they weren't disappointed. If in doubt, please just ring me, as a conversation can make all the difference. Click here for more information about choosing reference photos.