I suppose I am naturally drawn to this TV programme because I've always wanted to be a BETTER portrait painter than I am.
I have only seen two episodes, but I gather that each week the programme highlights about 9 painters who are given a certain amount of time to paint a celebrity of some sort. The format gives each group of three painters one of three sitters to work on.
There is no doubt that many of the painters really know their job, and produce superb work.
Others, not unlike this chap above, CHEAT. They take photos and ignore the sitter. Some square-up their photos on paper and work from that. This is not in the spirit of portrait painting, and would normally come under the heading of 'illustration'.
I, myself, know fellow painters who work from photos, use lightboxes, and employ all sorts of devices to make their work look better. There is nothing wrong with this; it is 'picture making'.
Of course any buyer of a painting is buying an object, and it hardly matters how it was created, but with portrait painting I, personally, would prefer that it was done with skill rather than by the use of some gadget.
Admiring the skill of a painter is half the fun, knowing that something is simply a copy of a photo takes away that fun; and maybe the original photo was better anyway.
I remember well judging an Art Club competition myself, where half the entries were paintings of D Spencer, some pop star, or a TV celeb; all painted from photos (some worse than others). I gave the prize to an elderly farmer who'd painted the view from his farmhouse on the back of an old door.
He'd used whatever old paint pot colours (mostly green) that he'd found in his shed, and was not a particularly adept painter. However, the painting was magnificent and must have taken him ages to paint. It was a huge landscape showing all his divided fields, complete with Sheep and trees. I wasn't popular with those who'd meticulously copied photos.