I see many art teachers today 'teaching' by getting their students to copy photos and works by well known artists etc.
I have lost count of the number of copies of 'Girl with a pearl earring' I have seen - and whilst Vermeer's original is a great piece of work, how much better would the copiers' work be if they could examine the original girl? If they could see into the shadows in the picture; to see the shape of the back of the girl's head; to see whether or not she actually has an earring in the other ear - or indeed if she has 2 ears!
Or how can a person just paint a sunset from someone else's photo without having examined one themselves to watch how the colours change with the sun's angle illuminating the underside of the clouds; or paint a sea scape without seeing the various wavelengths and motion that creates the reflections and cause the wave to break?
Whilst photos can provide a useful reference, why generate a 'photographic likeness' in a painting from one? Surely the photo itself is the artwork?
So whilst this method is fine and will teach some observational skills & the techniques used by the grand masters etc., the results can only be 2 dimensional since the subject is 2 dimensional and the inspiration behind the original picture will be someone else's.
So the painter is an artiste, performing someone else's composition.
--> Proceed to Session one - "getting started" -->