photo references
Art Tips

Using Photo References – A Moral Dilemma

I had a moral dilemma today.

It tested the core of my personal beliefs.

I needed two photo references for some art kits I’m developing, normally I always use my own photo references to avoid any copyright issues – as I’m sure many other artists do – however I simply didn’t have any that were good enough.

They were all slightly blurred, something that doesn’t worry me too much when I’m creating my paintings but definitely not good enough to send out to the people buying my art kits! (example of my squirrel – great for me but slightly out of focus, I’m a perfectionist!)

So I sent a plea out for copyright free photos to a wildlife photography Facebook group… I was inundated with the most beautiful and perfect photo references!!!

photo references

Beautiful Photographs

One lady was turning professional – her work is stunning and she was happy to have the credit on the box.Great! Was my initial thought… but then my conscience piped up. I have a passion to enable creatives to know and charge their worth, to enable them to make a business from doing the one thing they love, if they want to.Could I, in all honesty, use an image and not pay for it. Even if money was not asked for? Would I be comfortable knowing I was going to make a profit using an image that simply has the photographers name against? Even when the photographer was perfectly happy with that? The answer was a resounding NO!

What To Do?

But I’m a fledgling business with little to zero cashflow and no idea if my Art Kits are going to be as popular as I think they will be… So I put my thinking cap on. You see I need to live by my principles (but, I also need to pay rent) so I asked whether a royalty payment would be acceptable where she would get an amount per kit sold.

She was delighted!

This is now collaborative – she has an interest in the number of kits I sell and I love to promote artists work, it’s a win-win situation!! I had a different response from another amazing photographer who wanted his photography to firmly remain a hobby and the credit was all he wanted. I’m fine with this but felt it wasn’t fair – another one of my principals.

The answer?

He has nominated a charity close to his heart and the royalty payment will go directly to them.
I now have the photographer and the charity wanting my kit sales to do well.

A Win-Win Situation!!

The result of all this is that collaboration works! Supporting other creatives works!

Know your worth and be mindful of the worth of others, even when they can’t articulate it themselves. Spread the value and appreciation of the work all you amazing creatives do.


p.s. Buy your Red Squirrel Kit and Robin Kit here!

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