Back in the old days, I started off by copying other images/photos and it was a time consuming process (eye / hand coordination) because I didn’t know any method or technique to help me with (I was all on my own), so it was a trial and error thing. As I got older I didn’t like the idea of copying. I wanted to be able to draw things from my imagination and so I practiced a bit more and got to a point where I can improvise (somewhat). However, I now come to see that observational drawing is a skill that needs to be learned. Even if copying a photograph is not your thing, it is still a very useful skill to have! Something I’m currently trying to grow in.
On the positive side of thing, even though I didn’t learn proper observational skill for drawing, my eye and hand coordination that I practiced back then now helps me with 3d modelling! (see examples from another artist here)
Here’s the thing: We all have strengths and weaknesses. My weakness right now is in copying a photography. I could do it, but it’s very time-consuming because I didn’t start off with proper methodologies. For some of you, your strength might be in copying a photography, but have a hard time doing things without it.