If you are using reference materials other than your own sketches or photographs, there are several steps you can take to avoid breaching copyright:
- Where possible, use only your own source material. This is easier than you think. Spend a weekend with your camera. Get out there and take your own source photographs. Beautiful lighting is a key feature of professional shots - they get up at 5am to catch the morning light. Try it.
- Use out-of-copyright materials. Check this guide to copyright expiration.
- Use Public Domain images. Be aware that some collecctions aren't all public domain - check the rules for whichever photo you wish to use - Finding Free Stock Photos
- Obtain permission to use image. Write to the publisher/magazine/website. Often permission will be granted for a small fee or/and under certain conditions. More on obtaining permission.
- if you copy something for your own study purposes, write the source on the back in case you ever need to request permission for use.
- Know the laws in your state/country. Helpful sites:USA, UK, Australia, International
DISCLAIMER:I am not a lawyer or copyright expert. This article is for general information only and is not intended to be any form of legal advice. To answer specific legal questions, consult your legal professional.