Painting from photographs is bad! This is what artists will tell you and they’re right of course. Cameras aren’t up to scratch when it comes to viewing a scene. Where’s the focus? Are the colours right? I’m sure it looked much brighter when I was looking at it! Not to mention that the foreshortening is all done for you but only in a way that the camera wants to do it so that when you come to paint the picture, it doesn’t look right.
Having finally found all of this out, I still find myself using photos as a reference because, well why not? Because, as long as I allow for the misrepresentations made by the camera, I can use a photograph to paint my children in a certain scene for example. A scene I will never be able to recreate again. I might be asked to paint someone’s pet, someone who lives over the other side of the country and may never be able to meet them. I could say, “I’m sorry I only paint from life”, or I could say, “Send me a dozen photos from different angles and in different lighting and I’ll see what I can do but it won’t be perfect”.
I can’t promise I’ll never paint from photographs again but I’ll certainly try not to! In the meantime, here’s some I’m working on (from photographs):