a cutout of a house with a door and window


My background is in sculpture, not architecture, which is why I rely on photographs to create my custom house portraits. I find everyone is much happier if I rely on real-world perspectives and angles than if I try to fudge it myself! The tips below apply to both 3D House Portraits and House Portrait Silhouettes.

To that end, to commission a custom paper house portrait from me, you will need a clear photograph of the house you want me to create. A clear photo is something like these images:

The view of this house was totally unobscured, making it easy to transform into a portrait!

For this house I asked the client to confirm that there was nothing hidden behind that large bush!
This photo works well even though the lighting is crazy, because there are no actual obstructions to viewing the house.

These are examples of actual photos used to create house portraits! Everyone’s situation is different, but in over 70 house portraits created so far this photo-based process has worked every time. If you don’t think you can get a clear photo of the house you’d like a portrait of, please contact me before placing your order.

To break it down, here’s what makes for a good photo for this process:

The entire structure of the house is visible. 

This means every part of the house fits in the frame of the photograph all at once, and most of the house is visible, not blocked by trees or shrubs. My house portraits are architectural portraits, not environmental – In some limited cases I’ve been able to incorporate aspects of landscaping as necessary, but that isn’t part of the standard house portrait fee. If there are areas that are blocked by a tree or plant, I’ll need additional photographs or sketches that show any significant architectural features.

The house is photographed at an angle.

The shadowboxes I frame my finished pieces in are just under an inch deep. In order to get the illusion of so much depth in my finished 3D House Portraits, starting with some strong perspective lines/angles is really important.

For House Portrait Silhouettes, the angle is less important, and photographs that show your home from the front or “straight on” view work just as well as photos taken from an angle.

The image is high quality/high resolution.

In order to capture little details, I have to be able to see them! A high-resolution, high-quality digital image is much more important than a well-lit one – as long as I can see the details, an image that is dark or has a sky that is blown out is much easier to work with than one that is tiny!

If your photo has very dark recessed areas I may request additional photographs that show details like a front entryway from a closer view.

Is there an angle/view of your home that is most memorable or distinctive?

If everyone enters through the garage, maybe that’s a more prominent feature in the finished portrait. If you love the view from the back yard, you can absolutely photograph that angle. 

Is your home something other than a stand-alone single-family structure? 

Fortunately, all of my work is totally custom, so if you want to include only part of a townhouse or a chunk of an apartment building, we can absolutely work that out. I can provide examples if you’re interested, just get in touch.

Is your home very wide or otherwise non-standard dimensions?

If your home has special dimensions or other features that make it not fit into an 11″x14″ frame very well, we can also talk about sourcing a custom frame size for your finished piece (additional costs will apply).

How to source photos

If you live in the house you want to commission a portrait of, hopefully it’s easy enough to get photographs that meet these requirements! If you’re commissioning a portrait as a gift, I can often work from real estate listing photos or from images available on Google Maps “Street View”. I’ve also heard stories of crafty clients tricking their family members into providing photos of their home in order for a house portrait to be gifted to them! “Hey mom, we’re thinking of doing some work on our windows, I remember liking the way the windows at my childhood home looked, do you happen to have a photo I could show my contractor?” works like a charm!

You will need to have your photo(s) ready in order to place an order for a House Portrait Silhouette or to complete the 3D House Portrait application. I’m also happy to look at photos in advance, to make sure that they’ll work for my process or answer any questions about specific details of your home.