Using Stock Photos for Inspiration


I love to browse through stock photography sites for ideas and inspiration. I’m always amazed at how useful this little exercise can be and there are several ways to utilize stock photos to improve your own photography.

Compile a “Must Shoot” List

If you are traveling somewhere (even in your own hometown), type that location into the search field and see what type of photos come up. When I entered “Salt Lake City” in the search box of, I found this picture that was almost identical to one I had taken of my Mom in front of the capitol building almost 2 years ago. I have been to this location many times over the years but I never realized I could get a great photo from that spot until that day in 2010. If I had searched through some stock photos, I would have found that is a popular vantage point for many photographers.  I also found this beautiful photo and now I want to head up to the capitol in the evening!


If I type in “London, England” a series of images pop up that belong on a must shoot list for anyone going there with a camera.


Looking to capture the perfect newborn baby shots? Just type in “newborn baby” and you will have an instant list of posing ideas for your own photography.


Learn from the Pros

A stock photo has to be good if it’s going to sell so study what the pros are doing to create images that appeal to others. I love to look at composition and think about the angles used for shooting the images. If I’m going to the fair or an amusement park and I think I might want to take a picture of a Ferris Wheel, I can search for them on a stock site to see some examples.

I love the cropping and lighting on this one!


The angle and composition on this one is just stunning!


My own Ferris Wheel photos might not turn out as good as these examples, but looking at some stock pictures can give me some new ideas to try out and help me find a different approach or refine my skills.

Search for Subject Matter

When I wanted to scrap a page about my computer, I was trying to figure out what type of photo I would take to illustrate my layout. All it took was a simple search of “computer” and I had pages of ideas to choose from. I would have never thought to take a picture of my hand on the mouse without seeing this image.


In fact, I even got an idea I wasn’t looking for from the same search when I saw this photo. Now I want to scrap a layout about how I always have my phone (and sometimes my iPad also) right next to my laptop when I’m working and scrapping. My family always teases me and says “do you have enough technology there?” or coughs out terms like “geek” as they pass by. lol!


Buy a Stock Photo to Use

Sometimes you just can’t replicate a stock photo (or you may not want to go to the effort). When I created a layout about a beautiful place in Greece that I visited but did not have a decent picture of, I gladly purchased a stock photo. It was much less expensive than flying back to Greece! lol!


link to credits

If I decided to scrap a page about how much I dislike clowns (they freak me out!) I’m certainly not going to go out and find a clown to photograph. That would be another time when I would turn to stock photography for a purchased photo to use.


Favorite Stock Photo Resources

I hope you take some time to browse through some stock photos, you’ll be amazed at how much inspiration you’ll find!

katie big