Well part of me regrets posting a horrendous photo of myself already lol but maybe it can help you?
Not best, but here's what works for me.
After I make thumbnails (so have some basic ability to draw faces and bodies from your imagination), I almost always pose as a reference to spot some key things for my line art and get some help with how faces contort to make expressions. There's definitely no tracing since I'm not a cute anime person and usually modify the expression pretty significantly since I'm no actress either.
The reference helps me look for things like how much top of the head/shoulders is visible given the perspective and tilt. Where the curve of the eyes/nose are at. Are ears showing? Etc. I drew on myself on some key points to show you what I was checking for this one. It's also extremely helpful for drawing hands that look convincing!
You can see I've got a phone mount on the wall behind me for full body poses that are giving me trouble as well.
It definitely takes some practice and sometimes you won't even need it, but I think looking for details in a reference photo can really help you get a convincing drawing.
For environments that I actually draw (not too many) I try to do the same thing - draw it first, then look at photos of the real thing (or similar) to spot things that make the photo look more convincing than what I drew. Then add those elements.