Artists and the use of Photography

Isn't it funny how polarized people still are in regards to artists using photographs as a reference for their work?

Bring this topic up among artists, educators and art historians and you will see an extremely energetic response.

This debate has a long history, but it is clear that artists have been using photographs for a long time. (Examples from Picasso, Alphonse Mucha, Cezanne, Gaughin and Frida Kahlo-taken from redbubble)

I remember having heated discussions with my thesis committee in graduate school about whether or not I should be using photos as a supplement or working  exclusively from life. Photos make scheduling less problematic,  poses can become more dramatic and lighting can be adjusted to match up perfectly when you can work from life.

For me, photo reference is a  wonderful tool that technology has provided and as long as its use does not become a crutch and is used as a supplement, then I am all for using it. My best work is often from a combination of working from life and from the photographs I take of my model and/or environment.
That being said, I do understand why representational artists at the beginning stages of their development should not use photos because they do not have enough working knowledge to compensate for weaknesses of photo reference.

Many artists in history have been very open about their use of photography. A great book was recently published, Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera that shows Norman Rockwell's heavy use of the photos he had taken of his friends and neighbors. There is a great review of the book and article on this topic over at the blog, Lines and Colors
NPR also did a piece on the book and the photographers Rockwell used to make the images.
And finally, PDN also did an article with great images.