Almost every artist I know who depicts people or creates portraits has spent time painting from photographs or drawing from them. It may not be how they develop a work foremost, but it is a useful method, especially when you want to capture a likeness and don't have the luxury of having your model available at all times.
But using the camera to create a photo reference doesn't magically translate a photo to a painting. There is a lot to assess in the process of painting from photographs, and plenty of pitfalls. That's why it can often make sense to start drawing from photos first, so you get a handle on how to use photos without the time commitment of a major painting. The Artist Daily Guide to Using a Photo Reference: Art Tips for Drawing from Photographs and Turning Photos to Paintings gives you the lay of the land in a really accessible way.
Artist and instructor Sandra Angelo discusses how she uses a photo reference in her own work, often beginning by taking many photos of a sitter and then creating a contour drawing pencil sketch of the major shapes she sees. This allows Angelo to use a photo reference as a stepping-off point, interpreting the image early on in the process so that she establishes her own vision and is not constantly referring back to the photo reference as her be-all guide.
|Before completing an artwork, Angelo often creates a contour drawing from the photo references she takes of her model.|
Angelo also recommends working from a large photo reference and even using a grid kit when starting out. By far the section I found most informative in The Artist Daily Guide to Using a Photo Reference: Art Tips for Drawing from Photographs and Turning Photos to Paintings was the section in which Angelo discusses the three common mistakes that often arise when working from a photo reference and how to avoid them, plus the portrait photography tips she includes so that you know how to get a good photo to work from in the first place. Download The Artist Daily Guide to Using a Photo Reference: Art Tips for Drawing from Photographs and Turning Photos to Paintings now and enjoy!