Using Photos as Reference for Portraits

Welcome to my section about portraits or any other subject from photographs whith tips, requirements and information. The camara image I receive and use as references for my artwork is the absolutely most significant part of the painting process. Since I work from digital images, the completed portrait depends on the quality of the image you send me.

The image is key, so please provide with the best image you have and try to send as many images as possible. If you would like take pictures specifically for a portrait or any other subject you may find the information below even more helpful. Any questions? You are more than welcome to contact me at any time.

Ideal image for a Portrait...
Mobile Phone, Digital Camera or Old Paper-based Photos?

Increasingly popular are mobile phones and tablets which most of us have accessible and bring along everywhere. However, most mobile devices do not produce an image good enough to use as reference for a portrait. There are some exceptions depending on lighting conditions and how close you are to the subject you are capturing, however from an artists perspective it's easy to see a big clarity difference between an image taken by a mobile device or a high quality digital camera, with 24 megapixel and up.

But understandably, many memories remain in the old photos we cherish taken by film cameras. Many of these paper photos sadly aren't clear enough for a portrait, but even with old photos there are exceptions. You will have to send them with snail mail to my studio for a review. If they can be used, I scan them into high-resolution images. You will get the original photo back with the completed painting or drawing.

After reading the information provided on this page and if your love one is still alive, please consider taking new photos with a digital camera. If you don't own one yourself, borrow from family or friends or ask someone for help.

Using a digital camera instead of a mobile device

Unless you explicitly want your image's point of view to be from the top, try taking the image from eye level, even though it might not feel natural to do so. Please note, your portrait will hang on your wall at eye level. But in the end it is you who will view the painting or drawing and the point of view you choice will be the one that brings you the most joy. Enough said :)

Another good practise is to take the image when your subject is looking slightly to the left or right of the camera. Straight on shots or directly from the side can make the face look flat. Don't leave your subject with only one eye, its always better to see both of them. Take your image from Natural Lighting Whenever possible, try to capture images outside in natural lighting rather than inside with flash. Even though it is often preferred to take images on a sunny day, try to avoid strong sunlight which can bleach out color or too dark shadows which would fade color.
If you are unable to take images outside, capture indoors close to a window without flash. Some natural daylight will help you take a better image and will be perfectly suitable for a portrait.

Fill The Entire Frame

If you would like to commission a full-body painting or drawing, try not to stand too far away from your subject. Fill the frame with a little background with your subject as the most important part of the image.

An image with the subject too small in the frame won't make a clear and sharp subject. For a head and chest portrait, capture filling the entire frame without cropping parts (ears, part of neck and so on) which you would like to include in the portrait. If you would like a head and chest portrait and only have a full-body image, I can't zoom into the head and see more details.

More zoom doesn't mean more detail or information within the image. Actually, if I zoom in a small part in a large image that part is usually quite blurry. I can only paint what I see, so I would like to have room for excluding details rather than making things up.

Photo Size

Try to email me your images in original size, downloaded directly from your camera. If images are reduced in size they are less clear, sharp and much important information is lost. The amount of pixels can vary depending on which digital you were using, my own camera creates 5472 x 3648 pixel images.

I can accept any large size image though email, so please send them at their original size. If you don't have the original sized photo and your are unsure if I can use it as reference, send me an email for review.

Be Patient and Have Fun

You don't need to wake up with the idea that you will capture the perfect moment that particular day. Capturing images takes time, patience and preparation. You probably want to capture your subjects personality and character which can be very hard if you pressure your model with rushing into things.

Use your natural environment where all can feel comfortable. The model needs to be comfortable in the situation at the moment you take the image. So for your pet use treats or toys which your pet loves and carry your digital camera with you at all times. And for a love one positive words can give you an ease in the direction of your shot.

A happy face is beautiful face! Keep taking images and be creative about it, capture the moments. Look for those wow moments in everyday life. If you read this and are unable to take new image because your loved one sadly passed away, I'm still more than happy to see your images/photos even if you are unsure about their quality for a portrait.

Perhaps you will be unable to get a large oil painting done based on your images/photos, but there are plenty of other options available for you. I would love to see your photographs, you are welcome to email them for review at any time.