I find the whole process of shooting and editing incredibly helpful in training my eye for painting. It’s all part of the same experience for me - I think that’s one reason I’ve never wanted to separate art and photography on my account here.
Shooting photos has helped me grow an intuition for how landscapes lay in perspective at different focal lengths more than any technical perspective-drawing exercises, while editing in Lightroom has given me a much better understanding of how to control exposure and color temperature in ways that feel natural and engaging to the viewer. (As well as tons of practice developing tone and story through color and light.)
I’m by no means a professional photographer, there’s a lot I’m pretty crap at when it comes to shooting anything that isn’t a landscape, and I’ve never had the patience to stick around somewhere long enough to setup a perfect shot instead of a best-in-the-moment capture. But I wanted to share a bit why I find it such a key part of my painting process!
It also really, really helps that it’s “play” for me - a way to practice image-making that isn’t tied to deliverables, expectations, self-image, or the computer in the ways that painting can be when you do it professionally.
Lastly - if you want to give photography a go, you don’t need expensive gear. Start with your phone or a micro 4/3 or APS-C. I do recommend eventually getting something that can shoot in RAW just because it opens up so much more experimentation (and learning) in Lightroom after you shoot.