Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Lesson Learned- a warning to other artists.

Well, I got a HUGE lesson in what one should and should not to do when looking for human subjects to paint recently. Most definitely get a written agreement up front, and do not for any reason trust a stranger with your photos, even if you feel sorry for them. I thought I was very fortunate to be able-with verbal permission-to photograph a woman and her 2 daughters in a lovely setting that would have made a beautiful painting. I did not have any written permission slips for the use of my photos to paint from as reference. She asked for my information, and called me that night "interested" in a painting. Her youngest had fallen into the pond right after I had taken the photos (they were actually there to be photographed by someone else it turned out which I hadn't known and so got no photos themselves). I felt sorry for her and sent her some of my photos, believing since she had indicated that I could use them as reference that I would be allowed to paint a lovely picture from them- whether or not she wanted the painting herself. I would have gladly sent her every photograph I had taken, along with several another friend had also taken for that permission. Once she had the photographs she tried to manipulate me into painting something for her at a cut rate if I wanted the use of the images. When I told her that was not possible but that I would be happy to do it on a payment plan, I didn't hear back from her. So after a reasonable amount of time waiting for a response I again contacted her asking for permission. I did tell her that if I did not have that permission I would delete the photos from my files, but that she also did not have my permission to use my copyrighted photos. I got an immediate and VERY NASTY response. Threats of police and lawsuits if I were to use those photos for a painting, and that she had already contacted attourneys. Needless to say, I have already deleted the photos, (can you imagine trying to paint from them at this point?!) I am very fortunate not to have any further dealings with this person- I can't imagine trying to do a painting and working with someone like that. But I thought I would remind any artists out there to be sure to get written permission- and do it immediately. I don't like to be manipulated and I doubt you do either. I will continue to look for opportunities to paint people, but it certainly reminded me of why I love to paint animals!

7 comments:

Tracy Hall: said...

Oh shame, Carol, what a nasty way to find this out. Even with the best intentions on your part. You even have to be careful with animals sometimes (particularly in a show environment)...its a minefield! But at least its done now and you can move on, wiser if not happier. Her loss anyway - your painting would have been so much better than a photo!!!

James F. Smith said...

So sorry about the photos and the challenge. We try to trust people and it never turns out the way we plan it. Some times it turns out better and some times not so great. Cover bases I guess. Thanks for sharing.
Jim

Carol Andre' said...

Thanks Tracy and Jim. Not to worry- it really isn't a big deal. Just always a surprise when someone is so self-serving and nasty. I will say it's too bad- I won't be so generous for another person in the future- who may be much more deserving. Nasty people make you a bit cynical which is too bad. But there are no limits to what's out there to paint- and I happen to have 2 daughters and 2 granddaughters who just happen to be alot prettier than the ones I don't get to paint!!! VBG. I'll just make my own opportunity. Just wanted to give other artists that may happen to see this a heads up on my experience.
Tracy- you're too kind! :-)

by Artist Terry Howell Stanley, PSA said...

I ALWAYS ask permission to take someone's photo- particularly in the case of taking photos of kids I am religious about it - and I carry standard model releases in my plein air kit...but I tell the people that I am doing figurative work, not portraiture with the images as reference. I alter features and coloring enough that there would be no way anyone would be able to positively identify the subjects. Never had a problem like this in 25 years and hope I never run into it - jeez!

Carol Andre' said...

Yes, I have always asked permission- would never NOT ask, but didn't have any written things with me. Just started doing people- have been an animal person up to now. I will never ever take another photo without written permission- which will mean I will loose out on the best shots- the ones where they aren't aware of me... such is life. At least I had verbal permission- and a witness- or who knows what she would have been like!

Barbara A. Freeman said...

Yiikes Carol! Better to find this out now BEFORE you did a painting! This person sounds like they would have been nothing but trouble!

Carol Andre' said...

My feelings exactly Barbara!