Selecting Reference Materials

If you are providing digital images, the easiest way to send them is electronically via email. If you are using photographic prints you can easily convert them to digital images with the use of a scanner, which can import your photos to your computer and create a ".jpg" or ".tiff" file for each photo. You should scan at maximum color depth with a resolution of 300 to 600 dpi (dots per inch). This dpi is based on an image size of at least 4 x 6 inches, a standard image size. Your scanning software will have details on how to adjust these import settings. If you are saving your photos as a ".jpg" file, if necessary, use a light compression factor or the highest possible quality setting. The resulting file should be between 350KB to 700 KB.

 If you do not have a computer or scanner of your own, take your photographs to a print shop such as Kinko’s. For a fee, they can either scan these photos for you or rent you a computer with a scanner installed. They will include one or more floppy disks that contain your scanned images in the form of .jpg files. Some photo labs or drop-off bins will also offer the service of saving your images to CDs with a description of the contents.

Creating the Portrait Image

Along with well-detailed photos in the actual pose you want for the painting of your subject, include other images that show details you want added or emphasized. Your subject's head must be at least 2" tall in the photograph you send for optimal accuracy.

The eyes are a crucial part of the portrait and are what bring personality and realism to the painting. The photos you provide should show the eyes clearly with accurate color and no “red eye”.
If you are taking a picture specifically for the painting, take it outside if possible and down at or near your subject’s eye level. The sun should be directly in front of the subject, or at a slight angle to the face, not behind or it will cause the subject to be in a shadow. Take several with the flash on and off to bring out the details in the eyes. Send several images. It’s always good to have a choice.

Creating the Portrait Image

I can also receive "snail" mail at my home address, which I will give on request, but if you are enquiring about a portrait, please do not send photographs without first confirming with me by e-mail or telephone.

Since I generally work from the reference visuals I’m supplied with, clear and detailed photographs are critical to the creation of an accurate likeness.

I need at least one photograph of the subject in the desired pose for the final portrait. If this photo needs cropping or composition and color adjustments, just let me know. While I can make changes to existing images and omit unwanted features, it’s difficult to add elements that weren’t originally present.

I also recommend that you provide 2 to 3 supporting photos, which provide additional images. These will give me a better idea of the appearance and the 3-dimensional qualities of your subject. They should be of similar lighting and setting of the subject, yet in different positions and at different facial angles, to provide other views. You may also provide preferred background photography for your subject. Please send along your additional specifications in writing along with your photography.

Whether the photos are taken specifically for the commission or not, at least some of the photographs should contain close-ups of your subject, which show details of features and “the whites of their eyes."

I want your business, but I also want you to be happy with your portrait. If I do not believe that I can produce a quality portrait from your photos, you may be asked to provide additional or alternate photos.

There are 3 ways to provide effective photographs:

• Take new photographs specifically for your portrait
• Have professional photos taken at a studio
• Choose existing photos

Types of Images To Send

Digital images, matte or glossy photos, printed photographs, diskettes, or CDs are all acceptable, although I prefer photos if they are available. If your photographs are one-of-a-kind heirlooms and priceless or irreplaceable, I recommend that you have these scanned and send only the digital images. If you do send photos, have them laminated or provide a plastic sleeve for them. Although I will try to be very careful of your original photographs, I cannot be responsible for their damage or loss.