Being a freelance photographer and digital artist, I have resigned myself to the fact that I will not always be able to use my own photography in the images I create for clients.
Sometimes, the budgets or the concepts are just too small or too big. And it is the final image that counts, not actually who took the photo. This is where stock photography comes in. I would urge other creatives not to feel bad for using stock in their creations, but welcome it, as it makes creating your vision so much easier. I tend to use a mixture of attribution free and paid.
I recently created some background builds (matte painting) for Korean popstar JFLA's new music video, in which she will interact with the backgrounds.
I knew that I would not have sufficient images in my stock library, so while planning what I was going to create, I turned to my usual stock sites Pixabay (free) and Shutterstock (paid). Being able to browse and see what the photography had gave me more freedom with my vision to create what I wanted. I would start with one good template and build upon it from there. If you watch the speed edit above, you will see my process. All four backgrounds were created using stock.
The one thing to look out when using stock is to make sure you have the correct license. Pixabay is attribution free, so you are safe to use it how you want. But on paid sites like Shutterstock, you will need to read the license options and choose whichever one suits you. But ultimately, do not be afraid of using stock imagery. In the commercial world, it is the client's vision that needs fulfilling. Having an unlimited source of imagery frees up your vision and gives you lots of options you may not have with your own stock library.