In the past month or so I've been experimenting with how to use photos in my paintings, making paintings that are a hybrid of photo and brush work, re-using one photo in different ways within the same piece using transformations, etc. The goal is always to take photo reference and use it to create something new and different, I feel like I'm failing if a finished piece looks overtly like the photos I used. Ideally the way I use photos is more or less as glorified base textures. The technique is great because it often halves the time it takes to paint something while at the same time giving pieces a more realistic feel.
There is such a thing as finding a photo that's simply too good to use. When you sort of... fall in love with a photo, it makes it really hard to experiment, alter and ultimately destroy it. That's what happened to me today with this photo from the Atlantic:
It's just fantastic. The lighting and composition were so good I had a really hard time bringing myself to alter it. I ended up getting this out of it:
I'll probably just come back to it after some time away. I ended up altering it in a lot of little ways, but fundamentally I don't feel like I did too much to it. It was just too good. So, lesson of the day: only use mediocre photos.