For me to create an excellent portrait commission, the quality of the reference photo is of utmost importance.  The more details I can see, the better is the quality of the drawing.  It is especially important that I need to be able to distinquish the eye’s pupil and other details.

In the case when you only have an old photograph or the subject matter is no longer on earth, I can work with what I get.  My suggestion is that you have the photograph scanned (minimum 300DPI) or if you still have the original film you can have it converted to digital format.

However, if you want a portrait of yourself or a loved one as he/she looks right now, see below some general tips on how to get the best portrait reference photo.

Get Professional Help

A professional photographer has the right experience and equipment to take a quality portrait photo.  Try to find someone that specializes in portraits.

If you are in Bloemfontein, my pricing includes a mini shoot of 15 – 30minutes (edit of one 1 photo).

If you have found the right photographer that suits your budget and taste, please send me their contact details so that I can discuss the composition and my basic needs with the photographer.  For example a few closeup’s of the subject matter’s face will help tremendously with details.

How to take your own perfect portrait photo?

See below just a few tips on how to take a good quality portrait reference photograph…

Cellphone Camera’s technology has improved tremendously over the years, but they are not yet able to pass a proper SLR Camera.
SLR Camera’s photo is just generally sharper, brighter, and higher resolution than a cellphone camera.

A good tip is to take your subject matter in natural daylight that is diffused/softened.  The best time is on a bright overcast day but not in direct sunlight as this can wash out details and colours and create unflattering shadows.  For the same reason, it is also important to never use flash.

Take your photograph close to a window frame that brings in light, but not direct sunlight.  You can soften it slightly by placing a white cloth over the window space.

Everybody has a perfect angle, whether it is a profile, frontal or slight 3-quarter.  Most people look better if the photo is taken from a slightly higher angle and not fully frontal.

Also, consider your pose and facial expression.  Some people look better with a smile and others don’t 🙂

See Angles & Poses for some inspiration

Luckily the days of doing standard sitting or standing portraits are long past.  Consider maybe doing something visually interesting.

See below just a few visual ideas:

Cool Prop Ideas (stick to one):

  • Flowers
  • Glitter, Confetti, Powder, Rose Petals
  • Light Effects like Disco Balls, Lace, Fairylights, Candle, etc
  • Balloons
  • Umbrella
  • Bubbles
  • Paper Origami Backgrounds and more
  • Crowns and other Hair Accessories

Backdrop Ideas:

  • Nature is the best canvas, whether it is the beach, forest, flower bush etc
  • Street Photo with a backdrop of a cool door, window, graffiti wall, or more
  • Cool Wallpaper or other textures

Adding an activity:

  • Playing an instrument (if the person love music)
  • Riding a bicycle
  • Playing
  • Looking out a window (perfect lightbox)

See below various Pinterest boards with loads of idea, if you still feel stuck: