My friend Miriam was kind enough to let me draw her today while she practiced the yoga script she is learning for one of her classes.
One of my goals for this month will be to do as much drawing as I can from actual people in front of me. I find that the experience is entirely different from drawing using a photo reference for so many reasons. In a photograph, the image has already been flattened, there is camera distortion, the lighting is often not very good for portraits, and there is usually way too much contrast (meaning the shadows are too dark and the light values are too light to interpret the details in a meaningful way). There is also the matter of choosing how to execute the drawing, which is almost overwhelming sometimes but presents all these fascinating problems: should it be a line drawing, or a tonal drawing, or have a background? How should it be cropped? How much detail is too much? How do I convey hair or cloth or shadows? How do I deal with the movements my subject is making? And of course there is the ever-present challenge of making a good likeness and a sound drawing.
I'm sure those things will improve with plenty of practice!