Friday, April 18, 2014

Photographic References


 Generally, I don't use photographs as references.  I use them as idea generators or sketch material.  I will look at photo I've taken long and carefully, put it down and then sketch it from memory, changing the composition as suits the need for incorporating design principals. 

     Unless you are using a photo taken by a potential buyer who has specifically given you permission , it is highly unethical to use a photo taken by someone other than you, especially if you are relying on their composition.  Copying photos from calendars, guide books, magazines or other copyrighted material could also land you in hot water legally if you display your work outside your home.  You may use objects or people as references if you build the majority of your composition independent of the photograph. 

     I have juried and judged shows, and though I might not explain it to the individual, I nearly always reject paintings of lions, tigers, and other exotic animals, especially if they are placed in their native habitat  because I am dubious that the artist went to Africa or India and took the shot themselves. 
If an artist goes to their local zoo and photographs the animals, that would be acceptable.

     That said, here's a rare choice to paint from a friend's travel photo.  She's in Italy right now, and wants the painting as a reminder of her trip.  It is a private transaction between two people, and other than illustrating my point, I would not have shown it in a competition or gallery. 

      Just be mindful when using photos that you don't borrow other people's creative work.

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