Stock Photography: Should you use it for your book cover?

All the pictures on my blog have been captured by me unless otherwise stated. The photos of me were usually taken by my children. The obvious photos—such as those of Spiderman, Bionic Woman, John Wayne, Gerard Butler—were grabbed from the Internet.

That’s not to say I don’t have pictures of famous people in my stock pile. The one of Grandpa Jones was taken on a visit to Nashville. In my younger years, I was a concert nut, and gathered pictures of Alabama, Rod Stewart, Johnny Cash, Alan Jackson, Reba McIntyre…and the list goes on.

I’m a fanatic for taking pictures, and with a digital camera now in my hands, it’s easy for me to shoot a hundred pictures in 30 minutes a few times a day. And I take pictures of everything, including what others might think is a little strange…like those mushrooms above. When I visit historic places such as Signal Hill (St. John’s, NL), Fort Anne (Port Royal, NS) and Anne of Green Gables’ House (Cavendish, PEI), I take hundreds of pictures. You just never know when you can use unique one for the cover of a book…like those mushrooms above.

Having a stock of several thousand pictures on my hard drive makes it easier to find good images for my book covers. I never have to worry like those who use stock photo websites that the same image I bought for my cover will turn up on someone else’s.

Take for example the book covers below. Do you see the similarities?

I used a picture of an old outhouse as the basis for all the front covers. I modified each one a little, cropping here, darkening there, but a keen eye will spot the similarities and know I used the same photo.

This was just an example I made up to show how easy it is to photoshop a picture to create different covers. This doesn’t happen in real life…or does it?

The Caustic Cover Critic is a blog by a guy who rants about book cover designs. For your learning pleasure he’s gathered two pages of book covers which use the same image. The first, If She Could Just Meet the Man by the Fence, reveals eleven—eleven!—book covers with the same woman holding a bird cage.

In the short blurb above the cover images, you’ll find the link to The Man by the Fence. It contains nine covers with the same image of a man walking along a fence.

I’m not bringing this to your attention to make the authors/publishers look bad. This can happen to anyone who uses a stock photo company. I’m using this to let you know you should be careful when choosing the images for your cover.

It’s impossible to see every book out there, and even if there are none using the picture you just purchased, it doesn’t mean this time next year there won’t be ten floating around the Internet.

. . . . . . . . . * . . . . . . . . .

Shadows in the Stone - Diane Lynn McGyverNow Available at Kindle, Chapters Indigo (Kobo) and Smashwords (where you can read half the novel before you decide to buy).

Reviews for Shadows in the Stone (including the information on how to win a paperback copy) can be found at Goodreads.

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