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Sometimes people choose images from the internet or cut out of a magazine. If you do this, you must be sure the image is copyright-free; if it is not, you must get permission from the copyright holder before we can use it on your order. The copyright holder can be the photographer or artist, the company that hired the photographer or artist, or in the case of celebrities, it is often the celebrity who holds the copyright.
Send us a notice of "permission to use" from the copyright holder, or confirm that the image is copyright-free, or choose another image which is copyright-free (when in doubt, it is best to choose an image that has no copyright). Once we have this information we will be able to proceed with your order.
In any case, you are wholly responsible for obtaining "permission to use" from the copyright holder, and if you do not, you are wholly liable for any lawsuits. When you use a copyrighted image, you take full responsibility for obtaining permission, and you hold us harmless from any legal damages or lawsuits.
Set your camera to the highest resolution. This is the most important thing you can do to ensure a good quality photo. Also set your camera for the correct lighting - cloudy day, sunny day, incandescent light, fluorescent light, or flash. If you use the wrong setting, the photo can turn out greenish, or bluish, or low-contrast.
Be sure there is plenty of light. Shooting in low light produces poor quality images that are blurred and/or low-contrast. Outdoors, do not shoot pictures in direct sunlight - this creates harsh shadows. Outdoor shooting is best in the shade or on an overcast day.
Indoors, place your subjects where there will be good natural light - for example, place them next to a window so the light coming in the window falls on them. Indoors or outdoors, choose a background that is darker than your subject, or the camera will adjust for the light background and your subject will be dark.
If using flash, take the picture from 3 to 4 feet away from your subject. This helps to prevent blowout or glare.
Indoors or outdoors, be sure there are no shadows (tree branches, window blinds, etc) across the face or torso of your subject.
Photos of people wearing baseball hats generally come out poorly. The bill of the hat puts the person's face in a dark shadow. If it's the best photo you can come up with, we will do our best to make it look good. But if you are getting ready to take the picture, follow these guidelines: ask the person to remove their hat; if they don't want to, then tip the hat up slightly and ask the person to lift their head a little. This allows more light to fall on their face which will help even out the light and dark areas.
If you want the focus to be on the subject, use a neutral background that will not compete, such as: a solid hedge or large bush, a solid-colored wall, all sky, a grassy hill, a curtained window (solid-colored fabric or low-contrast-patterned fabric).
If you want the background to tell a story - for example, if you are in Hawaii and want to show that in your image - choose a background that creates the setting but still does not take away from the subject. Good examples of complementing backgrounds are: the ocean, snow-covered trees, a sandy beach, mountains, palm trees, etc. Poor background choices are those that are distracting: people doing strange things ("what are those people doing behind him?"), a very busy scene like a carnival ("I can't see them - oh, there they are") or something that gets in the way of the subject ("that tree branch looks like it is growing out of her ear"). You can still have busy settings work as backgrounds if you choose carefully. For example, a construction scene can be depicted by having the subject stand in front of a large truck, or at a carnival, in front of a large sign - with activity on the edges of the image and not directly behind the subjects.