Reference Photographs

If you're looking to book a commission with an artist, one of the first things you'll be asked is "have you got some good reference photos you can send me?" What you respond with is surprisingly important.

People often think that all artists draw from their minds eye, and can conjure up images from thin air. In reality, the opposite is true. The  use of reference imagery has been an essential part of the artistic process since the dawn of time. A reference image informs the colours, likeness and overall quality of a piece an artist produces. I myself know the importance of a reference photo more than most. As someone with aphantasia (meaning I don't have any visual imagery in my head) having the right reference photo is crucial. Us artists might be very skilled, and have creative minds, but we are only human.

Every artists reference photo requirements will differ, but for me it's imperative the photos I use are a high resolution and have a good level of detail. Taking your photos in even, natural lighting, and getting close up to and down to the level of the animal always makes a much more flattering photo too. I particularly like the eyes to be clear and well lit, so I can really capture the essence of the animal. If you're struggling to get a decent photo of your pet, then try waving their favourite toy behind the camera, making them look towards the light source!


Perfect Reference Photos

You might find yourself asking "Is every artist expecting me to be a pro photographer?!" - absolutely not! You can get some cracking photos on your phone these days; the first two images here were taken by me on a phone. Things get a little trickier with memorial portraits, where there's a limited number of photos, but compromises can often be found when absolutely necessary.

The kinds of photos I'm sent regularly that really aren't much use to me are usually poorly lit, out of focus, and taken too far away for me to see any details. Photographs taken with a harsh flash, or at a poor angle are frequently sent across too. It's always important for me to see the personality of the animals I'm painting, but these aren't the kind of photos I can paint from.


Bad Reference Photos

If you need any advice on taking, sourcing, or finding the best reference photos possible, either for a commission you're booking with myself or a piece of art your creating for yourself then get in touch here.