What makes a good photo for a portrait painting?
- A photo in focus.
- The face is well lit, by natural light.
- For a head and shoulders portrait, the person’s face and shoulders fill the frame.
- For a full body portrait, the person fills the frame, with no head or feet cropped out.
Taking photos for an adult or child portrait painting
- Consider if you want a formal or casual portrait for the person.
- Think about the background for a full body portrait, do you want it to reflect the person’s personality. Perhaps a photo of them in their favourite chair, or showing them doing a hobby, such as in their workshop or in their greenhouse. There are lots of ideas, but you can also keep it simple if you prefer.
- A digital camera photo is better than a mobile phone camera or an iPad camera photo. A digital camera creates a larger file photo, which will have more detail.
- Make sure the person’s face is not completely in shadow, all definition will be lost in the image.
- Don’t worry if there are items in the background you don’t want in the final painting, I can remove these.
- Don’t worry if there is a facial blemish, child eczema or overly ruddy cheeks, I can remove these for the painting.
- Try to photograph when the person is more relaxed, it helps their personality to shine through. Taking several (20-40) photos might help. By the last few photos they might have become used to it and finally relaxed. Most of us don’t like having our photo taken, but we soon adapt.
- Think about how you want the person to pose, standing, sitting, looking at the camera, a side profile, are they focusing on something i.e needlework, weeding, woodwork or are they a child sitting in the garden making daisy chains, climbing trees. The choice is endless, you have to decide what type of pose best reflects the person. You can always contact me to discuss different ideas.
- When we take a photo, we usually ask the person to smile, but for a portrait the person doesn’t have to smile. We’re trying to capture their overall personality, not how they’re feeling at that moment.
- Think about the lighting of your photograph, the best light is natural light, from the north. North light is more stable, so a photo from a northern lit window should be good. You might choose a photo that has dark shadows across it, for a more arty style portrait, again you decide.
- If you have photos of the person in a pose you like, but they’re squinting, as long as you have other photos where they are not squinting, I can combine the photos to create a lovely portrait painting.
- If you’d like a group or family portrait, but you can’t get everyone together, don’t worry. I can combine individual photos together for a group portrait.
- Choose one photo you like the best to be the main photo to use for the portrait painting and send several others too. This will help me get a better understanding of the personality behind the face.
Using existing photos for a portrait painting
- You can send me a selection of photos to look through and we can discuss which will work best, for a portrait painting. We can have a chat over the phone or by email about the photos, about the personality of the person who the portrait will be of and what type of portrait you would like to create.
- Additionally, we can have a chat by phone or email about the adjustments I can make to your photos to create a watercolour portrait painting. Also, whether you want to combine a few photos together for an individual portrait or a group portrait painting.
A memorial portrait
- You may have old, faded, damaged printed photos that you would like to create a portrait painting from. Please get in touch, I have the facility to scan your old photos and make adjustments to them, for creating a wonderful watercolour portrait painting. Alternatively, you can get them scanned yourself, it is your choice.
A joint portrait of pet and family member or the whole family
There is always the option of having a pet portrait with an adult or child, or even the whole family, the choice is up to you. Again, I can work from several individual photos to create a group portrait painting. If you have an idea, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch, let’s make your lovely idea a reality!
Creating the best image with a mobile phone
Mobile phones are not ideal, but I appreciate most people take their photos with a mobile phone these days. Therefore, I’ve put a few things together that will help;
Firstly bear in mind a mobile image is already a small photo that we’ll be enlarging to create your portrait watercolour painting.
So don’t use a zoomed in, cropped image, you’ll have made the image even smaller.
Use your mobile camera as close as you can, so you’re not wasting any space in the photo.
Don’t use any filters, these also affect the quality of image for enlarging.
Don’t use a screen capture image of your mobile photo, this creates a lower grade image, with less sharp detail.
Don’t resize the image, use original size ONLY.
Don’t send Facebook photos, these have been downgraded by Facebook, so they load quickly on the platform. Sadly, all the fine details are lost.
I hope this information helps with taking and choosing photos for your portrait commission. Please enquire if you have any more questions.