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Why Is a Hand-Drawn Pencil Portrait Better Than a Photograph?

For hundreds of years men, women, historical figures, and families alike have had their portraits drawn, painted, and later photographed. Their wish to be immortalized through various mediums can still be seen today, and continues to be a prominent--if somewhat novel--trend around the world. We may live in an era where an image can be captured and shared in a matter of seconds, but therein lies the disconnect between ourselves and our ancestors: a photo may be a convenient memento, but a custom portrait is a work of art.

I often get asked about the value of a drawing over a photo, and why a hand-drawn portrait from a selected photograph is the superior choice. While the answer depends entirely on the individual, here are a few of my insights.

Art In The Age Of Instant Gratification

I will be the first to admit that we live in extraordinarily convenient times, thanks in no small part to the readily available tools and technology that vastly improve the quality of our lives. Our devices not only allow us to be in and of the moment, but document it in an instant. However, the flip-side to this is that memories can quickly become lost or lumped together. Rather than making their way into picture frames, all too often our snapshots are relegated to the short-lived memory of social media.

The artist of the past took years to hone his or her craft and perfect their individual style. Because they did not have an automated camera at their disposal or wide-reaching media platform, their reputations depended solely on their talent and word-of-mouth connections. As a result, their patience and dedication were richly rewarded by patrons. Royalty, celebrities of the day, members of the aristocracy, decorated leaders, and even everyday citizens beheld their portraits as valuable keepsakes and testaments. There was certainly nothing disposable about a hand-drawn portrait, as such a piece would have been considered extremely precious.

We may have moved past such times, but art is nothing if not innovative. By rendering a portrait from your photo, I can help turn your most cherished memories into a work of art. My process honors those who first laid graphite to paper, and earned their recognition through talent and care.

Customization vs Photoshop

These days it’s extremely easy to manipulate a photo in order to conceal or highlight one’s features, add or subtract less desirable components, and even feign an entirely different backdrop. The problem is, even in the hands of the most skilled photoshop pros, these alterations are glaringly obvious, and ultimately detract from the uniqueness of the subject. While it's perfectly reasonable to want to be portrayed at your best, there's a fine line between touching up and altering a subject beyond recognition.

For centuries portrait artists have gracefully emphasized their subjects’ most attractive features while simultaneously downplaying any sources of insecurity. Subtlety was key, as was creativity. Scenes that evoked the spirit of events and emotions were skillfully rendered, enabling the viewer to fully immerse themselves in the visual depiction. From the ballroom to the battlefield, many of our most admired works of art placed our heroes and heroines against the backdrops that best represented them.

The ideal custom portrait is more than just an authentic likeness, but an inspirational experience. With my drawings you have the freedom to eliminate or substitute what doesn’t serve the spirit of the moment, and replace it with more ideal elements, be they a much-missed person or longed-for setting. Perhaps you wish to see your pet frolicking among some inviting flora & fauna, or a loved one smiling from a city they dreamed of visiting. As art brings to light time and again, we contain multitudes, all of which can be expressed through my hand-drawn works.

A Portrait Is The Ideal Gift And Heirloom

When we think of what families pass down through the generations, ancestral portraits often come to mind. Material possessions may come and go, but images of loved ones, idols, and impressions live on. A pencil-drawn portrait may seem like a personalized token in the moment, but will no doubt come to be cherished and displayed by future friends and relations. A framed drawing of a beloved pet, group gathering, or joyous event is an heirloom of the utmost quality, and a genuinely thoughtful gift for any special occasion.

Unlike a photo, a custom portrait lets your loved ones know that you truly value them, as well as what they hold dear. With each and every one of my pencil-drawn portraits I take both time and consideration for the subject, so that the finished piece will be remembered for years to come.

The Assurance Of A Comfortable Experience

In times prior a portrait sitting could last anywhere from days to months, with early photography methods proving just as tricky. (There is a good reason why our ancestors looked somewhat dour in so many of their photos, as it was likely that they had to hold their poses for up to twenty minutes without moving!) Modern day photography sessions can be exhausting affairs in their own right, and the results can be hit-or-miss. The disappointment that follows a lackluster photo op is one we can all probably relate to in some form or another.

Your favorite photos were likely taken in moments of pure, unselfconscious jubilation and spontaneity. From playful pets to a grinning partner, the best photos happen organically and with minimal duress. The beauty of a portrait drawn from your chosen photo is that it requires little on your part but patience with and trust in the artist. No dressing up or corralling the family into a studio, nor placing your faith (and funds) in a one-time sitting; your half of the task is already done by the time I pick up my pencil.

There's a lot to be said for not having to stress over finding a reliable photographer and worrying about wardrobe, make-up, and location scouting. Rather than invest in an experience that may or may not produce the desired results, why not peruse your own collection of photos and allow me to elevate them to something worth showing off?

The Timelessness Of A Hand-Drawn Portrait

Photos become dated over time, which is admittedly what makes them so much fun to look back over. The styles, fashions, and technical aspects of period photography make for fascinating archival viewing, but may not age so well in your home. A decidedly dated photo can transform an otherwise well-designed space into something unintentionally sad and nostalgic, whereas a hand-drawn portrait from your photo can lend an eye-catching contemporary touch.

My graphite portraits employ a style that feels both timeless and of the moment, that celebrates the uniqueness of the subject. Just as my favorite pieces of art feel untethered to any specific epoch, I believe in creating portraits with similar sensibilities. Your photo-inspired portrait can be placed front and center in your home without looking out of place, and will no doubt incite both admiration and conversation.

When it comes to commemorating a person or pet it is only natural to want their likeness rendered in a way that will outlast the decades. Just as we never stop caring and thinking about our loved ones, we want them to remain relevant to our surroundings. Wherever you move in the world, your hand-drawn portrait will always deserve its place on the wall.

A Note On The Misconception About Drawing From Photos

There's a great deal of criticism concerning art rendered from photographs rather than real-life persons, objects, and settings. To draw or paint from anything other than a tangible subject has long been a topic of controversy, but the simple truth is that it all comes down to the artist in question. To put in another way, a poor artist will draw poorly no matter the format, just as a competent one will embrace the challenge as a means to showcase their strengths. I have drawn from photographs featuring everything from rock icons to exotic animals, and the finished pieces certainly prove the naysayers wrong.

Moreover, I find this aforementioned ideology somewhat problematic in regards to those who wish to have a loved one memorialized after passing on. Your beloved pet or deeply mourned family member may no longer be with you, but that should hardly exclude them from the realm of portraiture. To assume that one must be present to be committed to paper is as unimaginative as it is callous.

I take great pride in the attention paid to every photo I draw from, regardless of the subject matter. I savor the time spent with my subjects, and diligently study every detail in order to commemorate them in a way that transcends the so-called norm. We are so much more than our physical forms, and our spirits deserve to live on past those limitations.


While there is certainly a place for photography in the art world, as well as our daily lives, nothing compares to a hand-drawn portrait from your favorite photo.

As a daughter and student of celebrated artists, I have long believed in the power and poetry of a lovingly rendered composition. Using only the highest quality materials and applying a keen eye to every nuance, it is my greatest joy to prove that art is truly a limitless medium. I have devoted many years to bringing people's most treasured photographs to life, and wholeheartedly believe that no subject is off-limits. Whether it's a pet or partner, role model or family portrait, I look forward to bringing your photos to life!

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