We no longer need have qualms about painting from photographs – most professional artists do. Most of the current crop of 'how to do it' books have sections on using photographs – why not? Incidentally one of the best is Richard Betts 'Masterclass in Water Media. I guess Turner when recording his impressions with quick scribbles from a gondola would have given his right leg for a camera; yet the old prejudices linger on. I was amused when a friend was handing in his pictures to an exhibition and he was welcomed with the comment, "You've painted those from photographs." I haven't," he protested. He was silenced by a withering look of disbelief.
True professionals are unpretentious which is why I love John Palmer's philosophy. "I'll do a quick sketch of Venice," he announced at his demonstration, "Never been there of course." He then did a watercolour looking across the lagoon towards San Giorgio or perhaps the Salute – presumably from someone else's photograph. Nice one John.