Photo-bashing or 3d model bashing is a widely used technique to speed up your workflow or add texture and details (greeble) easily.
Colours, details, light and shadow can be used from photos without the need to paint them in manually. Often times painting over the photos is required though to make sure the light and amount of detail of every object in your scene match.
I see photo-bashing as a great way to quickly block in my scenes and objects. It gives a good starting point from which I can colour pick and start detailing the rest of the scene.
I recently created this overview for my art students at Digital Arts and Entertainment. It comes with a video which I uploaded on YouTube (raw footage, no sound):
Here are more examples of concepts that started as photo-bashes. Maybe you want to start with copying and pasting interesting parts of the reference photo to create a pool of images from which you can later make a pick. Some sketches can be made as well to come up with ideas for poses and proportions.
I also wanted to share this video where Maciej Kuciara explains his photobashing techniques:
Feel free to share other techniques and tips that helped you as well in the comment section.