I use my own photo references for most of my paintings. The photographs provide me with a "sketch" of the light of the moment and a record of what drew me to the scene. It is important to experience the scene yourself to be able to recall all parts of how the light, textures, and shapes excited you.
Using photos must be done with care, and I continue to learn. A camera records all the details with everything in sharp focus. As an artist I'm learning to keep the sharpest detail and greatest contrast in my focal point. I provide less detail and softer color in the background to develop the aerial perspective.
A camera can distort your image and create perspective problems. I found this especially so when doing closeups of subjects.
Sunsets are particularly challenging to photograph. The sky is so bright and the land dark. I've learned to take many photos of a subject. I take a photo of the entire scene, one of the sky, one or more of the land (the camera's light meter adjusts to the low light and provides detail in the shade), closeups for details, and different angles. I photograph the scene in horizontal and vertical format. I can take a camera memory stick full of photos and may have one suitable photo or need to use parts of several different photographs for a final composition. I may make further adjustments using Adobe Photoshop on the computer.