Here's a custom pencil portrait I did a few weeks ago for an Etsy customer. The customer did not provide the story behind this photo, but you can definitely sense a lot of warmth between the two people in the picture.
I cropped the photo in order to get the maximum amount of detail in the faces. Sometimes customers ask me to leave out the background or leave out certain details like the logo on the baseball cap. I try to leave out any detail that I feel would distract from the faces of the subjects.
But sometimes details can hold important sentimental value. I learned that lesson with this anniversary portrait I completed back in 2009:
In the original photo, the man's tie had a very...um...bright pattern on it, so I decided to leave the tie blank. When I showed the drawing to the customer, she asked me to include the tie pattern. "I know it's a little wild and swirly," she said, "but it's my dad's favorite (designed by Jerry Garcia) and he was quite proud of
how well it matched my mom's dress that day." So I took an extra 5 minutes and drew in the pattern.
The customer loved it. So ever since then I've tried to be aware of what details should be left in or left out. You never know when a necklace or t-shirt might hold special memories.