The possibilities are endless and yet extremely limited.
One of the first things that I look for in a reference is something that I can connect with on a deeper, more personal level. For example, the “Fisherman” photo was one of several photos that I had taken of this fisherman over a period of time. I was having difficulty trying to capture the essence of peace and tranquility on the lake, as well as the sense of content that the fisherman personifies. I think that the sunlight that highlights the boat, along with the colors that create the homes, the lake and the trees, embody the serenity of the lake. The sense of slow and steady movement of the boat as the fisherman makes his way home, elicits his sense of satisfaction with a day well spent. There is a certain amount of “artistic license” in painting and I used it with this photo reference. You will notice the white section of the lake on the left front, which is an error of the camera. Since there are no trees that cast a shadow so far out in the lake, I created the reflection of the sky and clouds. Also, you will notice that the cottage in the far left is a white blur and did not fit in well with my color pallet. So I changed it to brown and then enhanced the colors of the other cottages.