Your photos don't have to be professional; in fact, a few quick smartphone photos will more than likely do the trick. If you're commissioning a gift, you can probably stalk their social media accounts for photos without ruining the surprise. However, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind when gathering photos for your custom order. Remember that I can't see you in person, so I rely on the reference photos you send. For a portrait that you'll love, it's very important that you send good reference photos and clear explanations.
Here are some tips for great photos:
1. I'll need at least 2-3 good photos of each person (and/or pet). Ideally, I would love to have a family photo of everyone standing up together (so I can see heights, etc), but we don't live in a perfect world, so I will settle for separate good photos too. What makes a "good photo"? Read on, my friend.
2. At least two of the photos should be close up. They don't have to be so close that I can count every hair and freckle, but I should be able to see your facial features (eyes/nose/mouth) clearly. Think headshot rather than group photo. Photos should be large enough that I can see your face without pixelation.
3. I also need one full body picture of each person so I can see their height, weight, and most importantly their outfits!
4. If photos are from different time periods and they show the same person with multiple hairstyles, different glasses, changes in facial hair, etc., be sure to clarify which look is current. Also note any particular details I should be sure to include (i.e. her red lipstick, his dimples, tattoos, etc). I will send you a quick questionaire after your order comes through that will help you provide all the info I will need (eye color, hair color, tattoos, etc)
6. I will work off of my favorite outfits from the photos, unless you tell me otherwise. If you like, you can choose an outfit for each person. This is where full-body photos can be very helpful. If you don't have a photo of each person wearing their outfit, that's okay! You can send a photo of the clothing laid out your bed/floor, or find a photo of a similar outfit online (online shops are great for clothing references). Outfits are an important part of the personality of the illustrations, so err on the side of too much detail and I'll simplify as needed.
7. For your pets, I'll need a couple of full-body photos to show their color and markings. Make sure you note any important details (i.e., relative sizes, a spot on the nose, or a tail with a white tip).
8. After placing a custom portrait order, expect a message in 1-2 business days. It will be sent to your email or via Etsy Conversation if you ordered from my Etsy shop. I'll send you a quick questionnaire to fill in and let you know how to send me the photos.
9. Please do not compile photos in a Word Document, PDF, or photo collage. Individual .jpgs or .pngs are preferred. If you have a large order with a lot of people, it can be helpful to organize the photos in a Zip file (with one subfolder per person), so that I can easily understand who's who. It's also helpful to include names and important info in the file names (ex. "Jenny outfit.jpg" or "Sasha current glasses.jpg").