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Adding value to photographs, an interview with John Derry of Corel's Painter

The secret to growing a business is adding value. Right? So here’s one easy way to do just that.

It has been possible for fifteen year to enhance photographs to make them look more like a fine art painting but over this same period the software has become easier and considerable more sophisticated. So much so that many photographers around the world, originally skeptical of the technique are now capitalising on their new found ability to increase their earnings from a single photograph.

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John Derry, artist, photographer and software engineer

Wedding photographers in particular are finding that by adding some clever brush strokes to the bride & groom, the selling price is enhanced, or perhaps an additional order is taken.

Corel’s Painter is the de facto standard tool for doing this and one of its originators was in Australia recently to spread the gospel.

John Derry, co author of Corel’s Painter was on a lecture and training tour of Australia at the end of November last year at the invitation of Wacom. His workshops were attracting photographers, amongst others from all over the country.

Fixated on a caffeine diet of Coco Cola (no coffee) John showed his audience his own personalised style of either making subtle changes or radical changes to some beautiful photographs.

DR had the privilege of meeting with this creative software legend during one of his Signature Expressive Photographic Interpretation Workshops.

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 Before  After











John says that Expressive Photographic Interpretation is a creative process for adding a personalised hand-wrought sensibility to your images. Good photographers generally have the creative talent to master Painter and produce great works that can either be sold additionally to the original photograph, or as a replacement.

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 Before  After







John’s background is in fine art (he has a Master’s degree), software development, and photography. He is custom tailored for lecturing on this topic which is growing in popularity in leaps and bounds around the world, in part, to the additional business opportunities it represents to photographers.

Painter has some very unique attributes, one of which is the ability to create one’s own palette of brush strokes, especially when combined with a graphics tablet. This enables any user to create a personalised style of ‘expressive photographic interpretation’.

No, Painter is not a program that you can run an image through and apply one or more filters to create the end result, it is a painting process that is almost identical to brushes, paint and canvas. Users are given the tools and what they do with those tools will result in the end product.

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Painting detail shown on the right
Dustine Wallace was the photographer for this shot

Surprisingly John emphasised that whilst he was a Painter developer, his style also embraces PhotoShop and he willingly admits that he may take an image into PhotoShop, then Painter and back to PhotoShop before outputting the finished image. He sees Painter and PhotoShop as being complimentary to each other.

In the rest of this feature we have used some original photographs and then accompanied these with the reworked version that John has created. It would not be practical for this publication to take one step by step through the process of conversion (this is what John did during his workshops). However in the image of the two boys, you will notice we have provided some zoomed images to show the detail.

A bio of John can be fund on Corel’s web site http://www.corel.com/painterix/masters/bio_john_derry.html coupled with some other useful information.

Should you want to contact John with questions or queries, he can be contacted via his web site, www.johnderry.com. He is based in Kansas, USA.

This interview was first published in Digital Reproduction magazine, Jan/Feb2007 issue.