Photographs are my main source of reference to painting and there are many advantages. Most digital cameras even the basic ones or even a good phone generally captures details and most of the colors accurately (except vivid reds and blues for which I take color notes while taking pictures). They obviously keep the lighting on the subject constant at all times. The fact that the light on the subject stays same gives me the flexibility to work at night or very early in the mornings which is usually the case with me and I do not have to wait for the daylight or depend on it. Also, I have the freedom to choose any botanical subject of any season to paint depending on my mood and preference.
When comes to composition, I enjoy using tools/functions in the applications that enable me to zoom in/zoom out, rotate, flip or adjust brightness/contrast/highlights – (like the one in the reference photograph below where I have used rotate) to help me visualize the subject according to my liking.
This is the photograph of Alstroemeria that I had taken from a beautiful garden years ago.
Do they make an artwork look flat or just a copy of a photograph?
Not necessarily! I paint in layers and after a certain stage, I find myself starting to work more independently and referring less to the photographs. In a way at some point I find myself moving towards making an artwork look beyond a photograph - trying to make it look more lifelike.