Winning painter copies photograph

This is a discussion on Winning painter copies photograph within the Photography News and Views forums, part of the PHOTO FORUM category; The Toronto Star ran a contest to design original artwork depicting the spirit of Toronto for the cover of their Christmas Eve edition. Two days ...


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  1. #1
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    The Toronto Star ran a contest to design original artwork depicting the spirit of Toronto for the cover of their Christmas Eve edition.
    Two days later, on the next edition, they ran an article about a photographer who claimed the original artwork was a copy of his photograph, one that was readily accessible to the public.
    I read the printed version and then found a link to it online. If you press the arrow on the picture in the article, it will show the full images side by side, and one over the other.
    The painter was completely unrepentant, claimed it was only 1 of several photographs she looked at.

    The printed article was titled "Artist wants credit for inspiration".

    Toronto Star Article
    Marie
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  • #2
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    Interesting.

    Personally, I prefer the photo!


    “Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that,
    behind all the discernible concatenations, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable.
    Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion.”
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  • #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grandpa View Post
    Interesting.

    Personally, I prefer the photo!

    Agreed. However last year I did allow an artist to use my photo to make a painting. His rendition was quite beautiful. He reworked the back-round so there wasn't a 'busy' bunch of weeds and trees in it.
    At least he asked!

    *I believe in God, only I spell it Nature. ~Frank Lloyd Wright, quoted, 14 August 1966*

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  • #4

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    would be proper to give credit...

  • #5
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    QUOTE
    QUOTE (Grandpa @ Dec 28 2010, 10:03 AM)
    Interesting.

    Personally, I prefer the photo!
    I agree, it really captures the feeling of a snowy day.

    QUOTE
    Mulewings~ Posted Today, 03:19 PM

    Agreed. However last year I did allow an artist to use my photo to make a painting. His rendition was quite beautiful. He reworked the back-round so there wasn't a 'busy' bunch of weeds and trees in it.
    At least he asked!
    Val, that must have been very flattering to have an artist want to paint your work. As you said, at least he asked!

    One of the things that surprises me in this story is that the lady wasn't disqualified. How can you call this an original work of art? They used the term "inspiration" in the headline, I think there's a huge a difference between inspiration and copying. At least the photographer received credit for his work in the end. What confuses me is the definition of art. If you take a picture (painted or photo) and reproduce it in a different media, is it considered original art? Even if they don't disqualify the painter, I think she was ethically wrong to copy a photograph without giving proper credit to the photographer (as gruenphotodesign said).
    Marie
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  • #6
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    It is definitely a gray area.

    But just to play devil's advocate for a moment, for the sake of discussion...

    I think it is pretty well known that painters paint from photographs all the time. My understanding was that the painting was considered an original artwork.

    Consider for a moment the music industry. For dozens of years it was acceptable to purchase a vinyl record album and copy it to cassette tape as many times as you wanted, distributing it freely amongst your friends and family. The argument was that the copy was not an exact reproduction of the original- some quality had been lost in making the copy. And I believe this held up in court.

    That changed when everything went digital, because copies were essentially identicle to the original. Remember Napster?

    So, why isn't this the same thing? A painting of a photograph loses a immense amount of image information, just like the analog cassette tape copy of a record loses audio information. Plus, to make the copy, there is artist interpretation involved. On average, you or I could not make the same painting of the photograph, it would be much different.

    So, one could look at it that both artist and photographer could see the same scene and photograph and paint essentially the same human-interpreted image. But they are not copies of each other. Additionally, if you look at the two images, the streetcars are closer together in the painting, the bacground is different, and the tracks are missing. So the artist has definitely added his interpretation.

    But, of course to flip it around again (and going back to my music industry example), if an artist covers a previously published song on his new album, he always gives the original song writers credit... not necessarily the original performing band/artist, but the writers.

    Gray area in my mind.

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  • #7
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    Looks pretty blatant IMHO. I can't believe some of the stuff that goes on.

  • #8
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    Heh... there's a difference between "inspiration" and "plagiarism" and this is the latter, it is blatant copying. The transfer of an artwork from one medium or format to another doesn't make a new original piece of art. An ink print of the Mona Lisa is still a copy, not a new work.

    Yes, artists sometimes work from photographs. Usually their own photographs, sometimes others. Someone I know who paints motor racing scenes use their own photographs as a basis for paintings, but they are a starting point. I have had some of my photos of classic race cars used as "models" for cars in paintings of classic races. The final images in paint give representations that a camera can't.

    What we see here is a slavish copy of someone else's vision. That's not an original work and the "artist" should be ashamed.

  • #9
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    After reading your comments I'm not confused anymore. Inspiration is reading a book about vampires and then developing your own vampire story (as we've so much of in the teen section). However, if all the characters and plot are the same as the original, that's plagiarism even if the author tells the story in a different writing style.

    In Marlo's example of video cassettes, I believe it was determined that you can pass out these copies to friends and family, but you can't sell them on the open market. Same in this case. If the painter had painted this for a friend or family member to hang on their wall that would be fine. It would be better if she also acknowledged the photograph. But to then enter this into the contest (open market) and especially without acknowledging the source is just wrong.

    The grey area is in how different the new picture is from the original. In this case it is just blatant copying. However, if she had kept some of the elements and changed others it would be harder to call.
    Marie
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  • #10
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    It says the photo in question is only 1 of several she looked at. She didnt say that after looking at those several that she copied that one in particular. As the painting was laid over the photo the whole front end of the street car looked like a tracing and so the photo was not just used for an idea but for composition and details. Just moving the smaller streetcar to the left a bit doesnt exactly make it a new creation. Her entry should have been disqualified just from the nature of the cheat irregardless whether it was a painting or whatever media.
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