Taking Reference Photos

People have asked about working from reference photos, so I decided to put up a couple of links that may be helpful. If you have more specific questions, just put them in the comments and I will  try and answer (but remember I am a painter that sometimes uses photography, in no way would I classify myself as a photographer).

Photo Reference Help:
5 Crucial Photoshop Tools for Photography
Tutorials for Photo Retouching
Collection of Photoshop Actions

While we are on the subject, remember that the best practice is to use photographs you take yourself so that you do not have to be aware of copyright infringement. HERE is a great article from the American Society of Portrait Painters about copyright law.
You should also take LOTS of photos of your subject-think about having images that are over-exposed and under-exposed so you have information for the lights and shadows. Make sure you are using a clear, directional light source and that it is placed in a way that creates an even play of values across the form.
James Gurney's blog is an excellent resource for portrait lighting tips:
Split Lighting
Three Quarter

HERE is a great article by Rusty Jones on How to Use Good Reference Photos.

Also check out my previous post about Norman Rockwell and other artists' use of photo reference.

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.