10 Places to find reference photos for portraits and figures

woman with blonde and red hat in striped shirt and white skirt painting done with a palette knife by Jennifer Beaudet-Zondervan
This painting came from a blogger that I contacted and asked for permission

 A question I'm asked, and sometimes I'm the one asking...Where can you find good reference photos for paintings of figures and portraits? I've searched and taken notes and came up with this list, which I'm sure is not complete. One thing needs to be said, the best photos are your own, but sometimes that's not enough. 

1. DeviantArt There are some restrictions so read carefully for use. 

2. I like AdorkaStock (formerly known as SenshiStock)

3. You can also contact a photographer who may grant you permission to use their photo for a painting. I've done this several times, but I'd rather use my own. 

4. Facebook groups where other artists share their photos. 

5. Paint My Photo

6. Unsplash

7. Museum by Sktchy - an app for iPhone users. I haven't used it yet but it looks good.

8. Sketch Daily References  - Great for loosening up with quick poses

9. Croquis Cafe on YouTube 

10. Proko 

There are some restrictions so read carefully for use. 

Young woman in red dress holding a rose with lace on the table
This painting came from a photo of my daughter

woman in green dress with a straw had with flowers
The reference photo for this pose cam from SenshiStock. I added everything but the pose 

Like I mentioned, ideally it's best to use your own photos so you don't see another artist that used the same reference photo. That has happened to me at least three times now. Two of them are well known artists. All of the artists painted them years after mine, I'm sure without knowledge that mine existed. The problem now is that someone might think I copied the other artists because I'm not as well known. So in order for that to not happen to me again I'm being careful to find unique poses and use my own. 

Even better yet, the results from painting from a life model can't be matched. I did this in college for 2 semesters and there's no substitute. I also did quick gestures from a life model in my sculpting class, which was actually my favorite class I've had. Those were fun times and so invaluable in my art career. If you can take a Life Drawing class it's totally worth it. My professor, Fagan, was so awesome, I could have listened to him talk about art all day. Unfortunately, I'm not in school now. Maybe I'll look for something nearby.

So, I hope you enjoy this list I compiled. Leave a comment if you have more to add or anything else. I created this (took me all day!) so I could go back to it, but share it if you'd like! When I can figure out how to host a blog party, I would love to see you drawings! 

PS You may have noticed my blog looks "old school". I thought I needed to go back to the beginning so I could figure out the techie things. 
Until next time, Happy Painting

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