Yuri Schwedoff is a Russian artist and painter. These works seem to mostly be digital, but they are rendered with a high degree of realism. They are dark and atmospheric. Fantastical stuff. Very fun.
I don’t know where or if photography plays into his workflow, but it seems like it must, at least as reference for faces, poses etc. Or maybe he is just that skilled at knowing how light plays on things. I know for me personally, if I’m drawing from a live model or a photograph, there are always details and features that show up that I would totally miss if I am drawing purely from my mind. Things from my head look cartoony and odd. Its not the same. But certainly with practice you can develop a knowledge of anatomy and color and light that gets you to realistically imagine most anything.