It's In The Photograph

Why Use Reference Photos?

My memory is terrible. Yours probably is, too. Human memory is so bad we have a term for people who are good at remembering things: we say they have photographic memory. The vast majority of people do not have photographic memory. Do yourself a favor & just use actual photographs!

SM last dregs of sunset Could I paint this without a photo? Yes. Will it be better with my reference? Also yes!

It's In The Photograph Of Love

Few things are more frustrating to me than spending hours looking for reference photos & coming up with nothing, or nothing I really like. If you take your own reference photos, you don’t have to rely on others’ views. You can get the angles, the shadows, & the framing you want! Best of all: you don’t need a fancy camera! The odds are very good that, if your cell phone has a camera in it, that camera is good enough to take reference photos. All my reference photos are taken with a Samsung Note 8 that’s at least four years old & it does a great job!

Lagoon Jelly Last time I painted jellies I lacked a clear pic of lagoon jelly tentacles. Never again!

Rule One

Take many photos from many angles & at many distances. I watched a man taking pictures of a corinthian column once. He started out very far away & slowly worked his way towards it while walking back & forth, taking at least one hundred photos from dozens of angles. He probably ended up with some amazing reference photos!

Also pretty important

Long Beach LighthouseWide Strong shadows & basic shapes make this a good reference photo for beginner artists.

If A Photo Is Good, 24 Photos Per Second Is Better, Right?

Don’t get me wrong – nothing beats a lot of good reference photos. However, one of my favorite things to do while painting animals is to put on a nature documentary about that animal. I get to see where it lives, how it moves around in its environment, & learn some bonus nature facts! I’ve found some artists who shun reference videos entirely, but I disagree. I believe they can enhance – but do NOT replace – reference photos.

Incoming Reference Photos Alert!

I’m traveling to see family right now. I’m taking a ton of pics using all these tips & tricks! Keep an eye out on Ko-Fi & mastodon.Art for a superfluity of super photography!

See you on Tuesday!

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