There is no denying that photos are a very handy reference and allow us to paint things that we could never paint in real life.
How do we use photos to create a unique painted work of art?
Photos can be a great jumping off point, But even if the photo is an excellent one you will want to edit it to make a great painting. Photographs can never tell the whole story. You can use them to jog your memory of a place and time or to record details to incorporate in later pieces. You have to be aware, as an artist, about what you are seeing in a photo or not seeing. This starts with being aware of the limitations of reference photos.