taking photographs for portraits

Of course for most artists, nothing beats working from life, and having your subject just in front of you to pose as you wish!  However, that's not often possible or convenient, and you can make a wonderful portrait from photographs too, providing that the source photographs are clear.  Here are some things to consider if you want to take a photo for your portrait:

It's a striking photograph but the subject is facing the light and the facial features are 'flattened'

Try to use a photograph that has a good single light source from one angle - preferably natural light.  For great results, turn the lights off inside and take a photograph next to the window.  

Try to avoid photographs that have been (a) taken under an overhead fluorescent light (b) with a camera flash or (c) outside under a dull, flat grey sky.  All these will 'flatten' the features.

Shadows are important, but no more than 1/4 - 1/3 of the face should be in shadow

Don't crop the photo so that the subject is too far away!  

Perfect for a portrait: dark interior, soft but strong light from the window, and face about a quarter in shadow

Don't worry if you can't pose your subject especially for a portrait - sometimes it's just a particular photograph you want recreated in oil, and that's fine.