Carolee S. Clark
Newsletter July 2014

The Morgue File - My Newest Favorite Reference Site
"Birch Banter" painting by Carolee Clark
© Carolee Clark, "Birch Banter" 36" x 36", acrylic

I have recently become aware of a free photo archive that has blown me away.  The Morgue File has high resolution photographs that are free to use in creative projects.  This means that artists, designers and illustrators may take these images and use them for reference to create their own work.

It was started by Michael Connors when he was a college student in 1996 and today anyone can upload their photos to the site.

Professional photographers might be cringing now.  However, on the site there are also photographs that you can pay to use.  I’m not sure how giving away free references will impact the professionals or if it will at all.  Would the people who use this reference have been buyers?  Or will this site generate an increase of profits by bringing more users who did not find what they wanted under the free section? 

It has always been important to me to obtain permission to use another person’s photos when I use them as references.  I don't want to violate any copyright laws.  This step has often been time consuming and doesn’t always lead to a positive answer.   Although a beautiful hi-res photo is a delight to work with, since my work is not particularly realistic I have often made do with my own photography.  Many of my crummy bird photos have ended up as paintings.  However, now I don’t have to work with a poor image but can search for the perfect reference.

I still like to draw daily and this is a simple way to test my skills without searching for something in my environment to sketch.   I used a photo by BBoomerinDenial for the drawing below.

  sketch by Carolee Clark   

A caveat however.  Even though the MorgueFile has millions of fabulous photos there are still many terrible ones.  One might have to wade through poor images to find what is needed, but it really is an exciting resource.

Having been the recipient of many peoples’ kindness sharing their photos with me, I wanted to share some of my photos.  I went through a few that I had recently taken and uploaded them to the site.  It was easy to do and kind of interesting to see which ones people like and download for their own use. 

Sign up for my newsletter by clicking here