Commission Art of Your Ancestors

By Maureen A. Taylor Premium

If you commission a family hstory-related work, you might request a portrait of an ancestor, drawing of your family homestead, decorative pedigree chart or map showing where everybody lived.

Rates for photography and artwork vary depending on the subject matter and where you live. For referrals, check with the member directories and portfolios on the Web sites of groups such as the Society of Illustrators (128 E. 63rd St., New York, NY 10021, 212-838-2560) and the Graphics Artists Guild (90 John St., Suite 403, New York, NY 10038, 212-791-3400).

Explore less expensive avenues by contacting local art schools and asking about students who would be willing to do the work. Give clear explanations of what you’re looking for, and supply examples of works you like in other family histories and scrapbooks. Ask to see examples of the person’s work and make sure the style meets your needs.

A professional picture researcher can locate hard-to-find photos for you. You’ll find a list of American Society of Picture Professionals members on the group’s Web site under Member Links. Before hiring a professional, though, ask for a list of references and publications they’ve worked on.

You’ll be asked to sign a contract for services. Read it twice to ensure the terms are agreeable to you and fit your project. State clearly how you’ll use the image (in a scrapbook? an inside page of a book? on the front cover? for advertisements promoting the book?). Also specify what will happen if you’re not happy with the work and want modifications. Photographers will charge an extra fee to reshoot material.