The perfect portrait photo

The perfect

Portrait Photo

What to look for in a quality photo reference for a portrait commission?


High Quality Image

For me to create an excellent portrait commission, the quality of the reference photo is of utmost importance.  I can only draw what I can see.  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 living, 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.

But in the case you want to capture your loved one as he/she is right now, I would suggest you get a professional photograph done with the 3 other principles in mind.

Great angle or lighting

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.  3-Quarter for example can help to make an artwork look more 3-dimensional.

Excellent lighting is a beautiful way to make a photo/artwork more interesting.  In the example on your right/bottom – there is a definitive light source from the left.  This helps to highlight features like the model’s delicate nose while shading the other parts that it less important.

This example also has a nice example of rim ligting in the nose, which again helps to emphasize 3-dimensional quality,

Click here to see more examples…

Memory or Emotion

Images that capture a certain memory or emotion, will always be more memorable then just a normal picture.  So when you select an image to commission, do take that into consideration.

Emotion can be anything like feelings of freedom, happiness, sad but brave, love, hopeful and more…

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Visually interesting

As an artist, we are always on the look out for visually pleasing images.  Especially those that has that certain “je ne sais quois”.

There is many things you can do to make an image more visually interesting.  For example adding props, reflections, beautiful backdrops and more.

Props can be anything from life animals, headpieces, jewellery, costume/clothing, balloons, sparkles and more.

Reflections like water, mirror, shadows can also add interesting elements.

Backdrops like beautiful landscapes, wallpaper to origami curtains can also make an image more visually appealing.

Talk to me

Although I always take my customer’s choice into consideration.  I do find where customers give me a little bit more choice in photograph options or where we collab to get a better reference photo.  That those type of commissions always end up better quality than normal commissions.

If possible, I will always suggest that if you are in Bloem, we can do a mini photoshoot.  Alternatively, we can work with a professional photographer in your area.

Whatever you decide, always welcome to talk to me about what you would like to do.