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Using Photography for Graphic Design Inspiration


Photography is a great source of graphic design inspiration. There are many online resources that give you access to vast photo collections, from photography portfolios to stock photography websites.

Stock Photography

Whether you’re looking for a photo for a project or just looking for some inspiration, stock photo sites have millions of images to browse. You never know what will spark your next big idea, so if you’re suffering from designer’s block a keyword search on one of the many stock sites can help.


Flickr is an enormous photography community that allows you to explore the photo collections of their members. With the use of tags and image data, you can browse images by keyword, location, camera used and more. Aside from getting lost in their huge photo universe, you may just find that inspiration you’re looking for.

Google Image Search

It can often be surprising what image gives you inspiration, and Google’s image search can provide that random surprise. By keyword searching the countless online, you never know what will come up and spark an idea. Google also hosts the LIFE photo archive, with millions of historic photos not available anywhere else.

Multicolor Search Lab by Idée

Idée developed a great tool for browsing stock photos, though because of its unique interface it is also excellent for design inspiration. The “Search Lab’ can browse the collections of both Flickr and Alamy Stock, and allows to user to find photos based on any combination of colors.

The New York Public Library Digital Gallery

The NYPL Digital Gallery gives users access to over 600,000 images from the library’s collection. This unique set of images includes vintage posters and rare maps and photographs not found in other online resources. You can browse by keyword or subject, and then refine searches by similar images or those found in the same original source. Images can be printed or purchased, but this impressive collection also serves as great source of inspiration.

Photographer Portfolios

Online portfolios of photographers are a great source of inspiration. Both the photos within the portfolios and the websites themselves can help spark a creative idea. Below are some that have caught my eye over the years:


Photoblogs, or blogs with a focus on photography, allow you to see how others are using photography on a personal and professional level. If you’re looking for inspiration in the form of photos, there are countless photoblogs to browse. Several resources organize them in one place:

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