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20 images that will change your view of stock photography

When was the last time you employed the services of a stock photo library? If it's a while, then you may have a negative opinion of what's on offer there. Indeed, "it looks like stock photography" is often used as a throwaway insult to describe bland, uninspiring shots.

Leading stock photo library Shutterstock (opens in new tab) – who recently announced the addition of the 40 millionth image to their collection – decided they want to dispel this outdated view of stock photography. So they've pulled together 40 images that just show just how artful, imaginative and original stock images can be.

Here are 20 of our favourite photos from the collection – while you can view the full 40 here (opens in new tab).

01. Red eyed tree frog in Costa Rica by Photolukacs (opens in new tab)

02. Jumping into the lake by MitarArt (opens in new tab)

03. White tiger close-up by Oleg Kozlov (opens in new tab)

04. Bungee jumping by Vitalii Nesterchuk (opens in new tab)

05. Potato starch grain at a polarizing light by Sergejus Byckovskis (opens in new tab)

06. Underwater portrait by Maksim Shirkov (opens in new tab)

07. Flamingos in Africa's Lake Nakuru Reserve by Anna Omelchenko (opens in new tab)

08. Black-and-white clock perspective by Telesniuk (opens in new tab)

09. Surfers on the beach at sunset by Viktoria Gavrilina (opens in new tab)

10. Surrealist shadow portrait by Mayer George (opens in new tab)

11. Ballerina portrait by Stolbov Pavel (opens in new tab)

12. Adventurous kayaker by Ammit Jack (opens in new tab)

13. Painted portrait by Nodff (opens in new tab)

14. Boxing match by Aerogondo2 (opens in new tab)

15. Abstract ink in water by Goncharuk Maksim (opens in new tab)

16. Woman in the sand by Mayer George (opens in new tab)

17. Timelapse of cars on the highway by l i g h t p o e t (opens in new tab)

18. Swimmer diving underwater by S. Pytel (opens in new tab)

19. Roasted carrots by Olha Afanasieva (opens in new tab)

20. Italy's Sant'Agnese in Agone, reflected in a puddle by Steve Heap (opens in new tab)

Have you seen a great example of stock photography? Share the link in the comments below!

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Tom May is an award-winning journalist and editor specialising in design, photography and technology. Author of the Amazon #1 bestseller Great TED Talks: Creativity (opens in new tab), published by Pavilion Books, Tom was previously editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. Today, he is a regular contributor to Creative Bloq and its sister sites Digital Camera World, T3.com and Tech Radar. He also writes for Creative Boom and works on content marketing projects.