As is often common in photography, this is not impossible. For example, many have taken that shot of your dog and used it as a reference without drawing and still have it as a reference!
The issue of the reference was clarified in a book I wrote on it called Drawing Without References: A Practical Guide. (It’s a lot of fun, and you can grab a copy on Amazon or here). I mentioned how hard it can be to take a proper photo without reference, and in that book I talked about how many times we take photos and then try to draw those images without knowing what we are doing.
For me, drawing is about taking a picture and being sure that it’s capturing something that you want. We’ve done so much research on how we take pictures, how we’re able to take a good one, and in general the ability to look at a photograph (without needing reference) has become incredibly easy with cameras that provide instant feedback and that do a great job recording where we’ve been and what.
A common misunderstanding is that this is some weird art form. It really isn’t. Drawing without reference will always be the easiest of art forms for me to perform and for others to imitate.
If you do want to make a drawing without reference, or if you’ve had a couple bad attempts and don’t know how to do it right, then I’ve got great advice that I’ve compiled in a book called The Ultimate Guide To Drawing Without Reference: 3 Easy Tips for Drawing Without Reference.
It will get you there faster and you can learn about using it for yourself in an easy to understand format!
What are your top tips for shooting without reference?
1. Take pictures and try and get what you want
I’m definitely the biggest proponent for this one, and it is so much more fun (and less intimidating) than having to take a photo of something that has no value outside of having it be a picture of something. I mean, even though it’s a photo of me, it’s just a photo of me! I know that my face is just a shape, and I don’t need to tell anyone that it’s a shape.
You don’t have to draw something else to take your picture. Just take a picture of your hair, your face, or any other thing, and if you don’t need reference to do so, it’s OK. No rules to follow, no guidelines, just what you want and
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