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how to choose a photo for a portrait


make sure photos include

  • Good sources of light! Notice if there is a clear light source & shadows on one side of the face

  • Clarity (no blurry ones - the ones on your phone usually work great!)

  • OPTIONS (please send at least 2-5 options for Katie to choose from) 

  • Close-ups

  • Flattering poses

  • Non-copyrighted photos (that have a legal owner other than you)



Poor Photo Choice

Notice the lack of shadows in this photo. Photos with direct light source or a flash look like outlines in a painting & charcoal with no real depth or contrast because my work focus on shadows and light.



Excellent Photo Choice

Notice the excellent shadows in this photo. Photos with a strong, but indirect, light source make excellent paintings and charcoals because my work focuses on shadows and light.


example painting

Pictured left is an oil painting done exclusively with palette knives. 

what works:

The facial expressions are flattering of all three subjects.

what could be better:

The subjects have a window directly in front of them, so some of their features don't have a lot of depth. You can mainly see eyes, nostrils, and lips without any shadows.


things to consider

  • STYLE! Katie's style is "modern impressionism" which means she focuses on light and shadows as opposed to realism. 

  • Charcoal is way more like chalk than pencil, so the more people are in a photo - the fewer details will show

  • Charcoal portraits are more detailed with 1-2 subjects

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