When I was a young advertising artist with deadlines chasing me, I shot reference photos with whatever camera I could find. Most of the time I was using a Polaroid. It was quick but produced photos that were really too small. As I came up in the world, I used a Nikon and now, older and wiser, I'm a watercolor artist and I'm using a Canon digital.
I use a multitude of reference photos in the design and painting of a picture. In this case, about 25
photos were used. Along with photos, I use value roughs, color roughs and some full size color studies.
I am a strong believer that a camera can be a great aid to a fine artist. That is especially true for artists who paint realistically. The camera can catch the graceful motion of a person walking, record the unique details of a scene, offer back up material for location sketches and so much more. However, if not used correctly, the camera can take over and it can rob you of your creativity. You can never let reference photos become the boss.
This color study was made to establish the girl as the center
of interest, with the doors and remaining figures offering
When using a camera, never try to compose a picture in the viewfinder. Shoot more photos than you think you may need. Start shooting back away from the subject—taking in extra foreground—and gradually work your way closer. When you have a good viewpoint, shoot slightly to the left and right also. In doing so, you have a panorama of the entire subject area. If you can, return to the location for photos with different lighting or weather conditions.