You may be thinking to yourself, “why would I, as a photographer, be interested in free stock pictures?” Believe me, I get this question all the time since I use stock photos and my other photographer friends know it.

They might be thinking that this is a form of plagiarism. They may be thinking that I’m just basically ripping off the compositional and other elements of these pictures so I can step my game up. Well, this is how most people think, and thankfully we don’t have to listen to haters. Thankfully, we don’t have to let critics ruin and run our lives.

The reality is that you stand to learn a lot from stock photos. There, I said it. It’s not popular, a lot of people don’t sit up on mountaintops proclaiming this to the world, but this is the absolute truth.

I know you probably don’t want to hear this. I know you’re probably covering your ears and screaming. Maybe you are on the floor in a fetal position, rocking yourself to comfort yourself. I understand that. These are the reactions I normally get when I say to people, “yes, if you really want to step up your expert photography skills, you need to go to and check out their free stock pictures.”

I get this reaction all the time because people are essentially dreamers. Really. They’re overly romantic. They have this ideal vision that great photography somehow, some way, happens by chance.

That’s right. I know it sounds crazy and, let’s face it, at many different levels, it’s stupid. They think that you just need to take pictures and all of a sudden this thing called “amazing photography” will happen out of nowhere.

You can’t control it, you can’t predict it, and there’s really no way you can see if it’s right around the corner. It just happens. If it happens, it’s going to happen. If it doesn’t happen, tough luck.

I can’t even begin to tell you how stupid that idea is because you know and I know that great photography is something that happens because you control the situation. It’s something that happens because you have put in the time and the effort to make it happen. In other words, you paid your dues.

And to believe that somehow, some way, you just stumble into amazing photography is really a disservice to people who have paid their dues—people who have gone through the process and who have invested countless hours to hone their craft.

I know it’s politically incorrect, but studying pictures taken by other people can clue you in on the proper attitude as well as the technical settings you need to master for you to produce similar level pictures. That’s how you make progress.

Go to and sink your teeth into some of the most awesome free stock photos currently on the internet. Use these materials to inspire you.

You are not in any way, shape or form asking people to copy and paste compositional information. I’m not saying that you should just rip off other people’s work. Instead, I implore and strongly encourage you to be inspired by them.

Last time I checked, being inspired by somebody’s original work is very different from just simply copying and pasting and otherwise stealing that work. I hope you can see where I’m coming from.