Painter Riding on the Back of Photographer?

A photographer recently asked an interesting question on an old post called Painting from Photographs.

He asks..

What should a photographer do after receiving a request from a painter who wants to paint loads of his images?

- a fee per image?
- % when painter sells this painting?
- just agreement about a credit line for the photographer?

I consider my photography as art on its own and somebody would like to do his/her art with my art.
Any suggestions?
I have no problem with 1-3 images painted and a credit line but more than 20???

About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.


  1. A big question is what’s the specific usage of the images? Is the painter selling the work? That’s usually a factor in any compensation.
    At the other extreme, if it’s say for practice then there’s nothing wrong with using them in a personal, educational way; I used to try and copy Ansel Adams photographs using pen & ink techniques for an assignment. Came nowhere near his mastery, but I did learn a lot about composition and value.
    That said, someone in our community recently got sued for doing a painting of a sculpture, which was in turn used as an illustration, so it can be a legal gray area (and headache).

  2. As a photographer turned painter, though admittedly a near abstract and modern phtographer ala Brett Weston, I would think context, a word in art I hate, actually has meaning here.

    If the painter has a theme based on your works, you deserve some money, I would take a percentage. If his work relys on yours for its affect, then it is plagiarism, unless you get paid and at a higher rate, as do those in music who cover the works of others.

    If it is just random stuff, using a pose of a model, then I dont think you are owed squat unless a photorealism style. Artists, real ones anyway, always adapt and mutate to the emotional and compositional needs of the work. In my more abstrated works, its probably impossible to sepearate the painting from the orginal work of art, my photograph.

    If one of musicians like my old jazz shots, then I would probably just take a honorable mention. Thats basically photo journalism, and other could have taken similar shots easily, though perhaps not with my skill, and so deserving of credit. If landscape in the Ansel vein, I would also just take credit, It is something anyone could do for a view, but not in how it is done, so unless photorealism, credit would be fine. And so perhaps get some sales myself. Good promotion.

    Really does depend in this case, but his wanting a whole series, means he is relying on your work for impact, how much you get would depend on how much that depending is, and would take honest negortiation, hopefuly to profit you both.

    But a mutually beneficial resolution would be best, its better than nothing. Good luck.

  3. If photography is art, then it’s an art piece done by the camera and the human is the assistant. The camera renders everything for you. The camera has a unique way of defining light and shadows. All the human does is aim and click one button. Photography is photography not art, sorry folks. Photography was meant to document life only, so to the people calling their photos art, please stop, thanks.

  4. I would charge a fee per photograph whether the painter sells or not. The painter could sell next month or in 5 years. I would also stipulate attribution wherever an image of the painting or the painting itself is on public view.
    Your photographs are most definitely art (if you choose to label them as such) and you should be compensated for there use.
    good luck

  5. You obviously havent seen a lot of photography. Is it limited? Yes, thats why I left it, though with photoshop, one can now create works dervied fromm photography, and if both are done by the artist, they can be planned and layered, structured and emotional. My wife uses photoshop like a brush for her graphic design, and there is far better design than art out there these days, more technical, and emotional.

    I did BW photgraphy because one had more control, could increase contrast, use different filters to create a different tonal range. explore nature, something art has forgotten how to do, and find meaning and purpose in the physical world. Order among the chaos, at least what appears to be chaos to the non artist, but in the hands of a true creative type, one can find and create prints. One learns to see, in a way that finds form, and meaning in what to you would be nothingness. My stuff had nothing to do with todays insipid post modern photography, which is just stupid kids tricks. Go to my blog, then my website, and learn.

    Photographers, in my line anyway like Paul Strand, Edward and Brett Weston, even Ansel Adams, made prints, works of art, no less true than any other form of reproductive art, linocuts, woodblock prints, etchings. You need to get out more. Now, what you see in most photo galleries now is either old school stuff, no new guys, or contemporary nonsense. It seems frozen in time, or just childish nonsense. Egotistical academic games. Illustrations of master thesis.

    But then, thats what painters have done too. No difference. Photography CAN be art, just as being an oil painting doesnt make it creative art, often just as illustrative, of things or personal emotional states. Not mankinds definition, natures study, or gods longing for, that is true art.

    There is no one way to make art. It can be made with anything, or then Kurt Schwitters was not an artist. Photographers often set things up, I did sometimes, like moving a sea lion carcass, shells, kelp, rocks, iron and flowers. We paint with light.

    Just like anything else in life, 90% is crap, and 90% of the rest only derivative, another 90% not fulfilled. Whats left is what drives man onward, what gives life meaning. That is Arts Purpose. That is what defines art, not what it is made of.

    That is all that matters. Open your mind, lose preconceptions, and see. Let it hit your brain directly, your emotions, your spirt. Art is mind, body and soul. Ideas and words are meaningless attempts to gather in and comprehend truth, when they are only forms of vivisection, analysis, data storage. Not art, but manmade constructs, illusion, lacking meaning itself. Creative Art is pure, and bypasses mans need for control and mastering. It is being one with mankind, nature and god. Letting go of ones indivudality. And feeling more.

    art collegia delenda est

  6. The couple of times I used photos I asked permission and offered a percentage if my painted versions sold. Both cases I got permission.

  7. Use Flickr Creative Commons w/ attribution license. Lots of photographs available for painters to use without restriction – only requirement is that you give credit to the photographer.

  8. For the individual who said that Photography is not an art. I say get a clue.
    The camera is a tool tool for the photographer in much the same way the brush is a tool for a painter, or an violin is to a violinist.
    After all, can’t anyone pick up a brush and slap paint on canvas? Would I then be classified as an artist? Can’t anyone pick up a violin and rake the bow across it? Would I then be a violinist?

    A breathtaking image is not taken, it’s made.

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