Photo Requirements and Tips

I work primarily from one photo for the face. Choose the photo you feel best describes the subject's looks and personality. If you can't decide on one, you may submit more than one photo, and we can discuss them.

If the photo you wish me to use is from a professional photographer's studio, you must obtain a copyright release form from the photographer or studio!

For a portrait of more than one person, I can use separate photos. However, I recommend that the photos have similar lighting and viewpoints. (You would not want one photo outside, back or side-lit, and the other photo indoors with flash.) The drawing will look more unified if the light comes from the same direction in all photos.

If your photo is digital:

  1. A standard head shot (from just above the head to mid-chest) should be no less than 500 pixel width. Do not resize a smaller file to fit these dimensions. If your only photo is smaller than this, send to me as is, and I’ll make a judgement.
  2. For the less computer-savvy, an easy way for you to test photo clarity is to open the photo with your photo viewer and zoom in until the face fills your monitor (about an 8x10” size). If you can distinguish small, important details clearly – such as the eyelid fold – without the image becoming blurred, then it is likely a good photo.
  3. Email the original photo file whenever possible. Avoid photos that have been reformatted or saved for web-viewing. (Forwarded or downloaded photos from social media sites, etc.) These will usually not be of sufficient resolution for printing with good detail.
  4. If sending from a device that lets you choose different sizes of attachments, attach at "full size" or "original size".


If you are Mailing a Photo Print:

The face in the photo (forehead to chin) should be at least one inch, or larger, and very clear (not blurred or grainy). A 4x6 close-up is ideal. THE EXCEPTION: Most antique photos are extremely clear even if they are small, and are my specialty!

All photo prints are handled and returned with TLC!

Scanning Photo Prints:

If you’d like to scan your valuable photo print so that you can email it rather than mail it, here are some guidelines:

  • If the face in the photo is larger than 2 inches, scan at 200 dpi.

  • If the face is between 1 and 2 inches, scan at 300 dpi.

  • If the face is between ½ and 1 inch, scan at 600 dpi.

  • If the face is less than ½ inch, it may be too small to work with. THE EXCEPTION: Some antique photos are very crisp even in small details. If this is true of yours, scan faces this small at 1200 dpi. You may want to crop the image in the scanner's preview window to just around the head and chest before scanning, to reduce the file size.

Photographing Photo Prints:

If you don't have a scanner, these days it can be easier to take a photo of your photo print using your phone or camera. Follow these guidelines:

  1. place the photo on a flat surface with bright, indirect side light, like a windowsill or the floor next to a patio door. Try to avoid direct sunlight, it might create odd reflections.
  2. Hold your phone camera directly above the photo, making sure there are no shadows falling on the photo.
  3. Line up the edges of the photo as straight as possible with the sides of the camera view screen. This will make sure you avoid the distortion that can happen when the camera is not seeing the photo straight.
  4. Hold still, allow the camera to focus, and snap the shot!
  5. Check to make sure the shot was in focus. Some cameras cannot focus at too close a distance, and you may need to back up a few inches and try again.
  6. If emailing directly from your phone, be sure to attach at "full size" or "original size".