Poorly cropped photograph
Properly cropped photograph
I understand that many times the original photograph does not allow the ideal cropping as in the above photograph. In these cases always crop the photo leaving as much as you can of the subject or, better yet, send the entire photograph.  Also,  if the subject is very small in the photograph (less than 25% of the entire photo) then that photo will generally not yield very good results as the subject will be too small and too far away to show any usable detail. In this case I would recommend finding a photo where the subject is more close up.

Whether using a photograph you scanned yourself or one that was sent digitally to you, the absolute bare minimum file size should be at least 100kb. Anything below that is usually unusable.  

To summarize, please keep these tips in mind when scanning your photographs:

  - Scan most photographs at 600 dpi.
  - Higher resolution is always better, just careful exceeding 10 mb.
  - Most properly scanned photographs should be around 1-3 mb.
  - When cropping leave as much of the subject as possible.
  - If subject is very small in photo it might not be usable.
  - All pictures must be at least 100kb.

I can use almost any photograph to create a portrait.  Following these few tips will allow me to design the best possible portrait using whatever photograph you choose.  
The best portraits start with the best scans.  Here are some tips that can help you get the best scans from your physical photographs.  First off is the resolution.  The higher the resolution, the better the scan.  I always recommend that your photographs be scanned at 600 dpi.  This is a pretty high setting.  You can go higher.  But anything more is usually overkill.  The average, high-quality scan is usually around 1mb - 3mb.  Be careful with scans that are over 10mb as some email providers will not allow transfer of files that large.

Next is cropping.  I prefer that you send the scans of the entire photographs.  So, cropping is generally not necessary. However, if you do need to crop the photo please see the 2 examples below.  The top shows the proper way to crop a photo for a portrait.  The full upper half of the body, from the waist up, is showing.  Also, both arms and shoulders are in full view.  The bottom photo shows a poorly cropped photo.  The cropping eliminated items that were necessary for the portrait.  As in the resolution where bigger is better, in cropping you can say the more the merrier.  I can always easily remove things I don't need.  It is much more difficult to recreate things that were cropped out.
Scan Tips