Let’s be honest: YA insiders have an uneasy relationship with stock photography. As much as mountains of cheap stock give designers a lot of creative flexibility (does anyone really think covers have gotten worse since the arrival of cheap digital stock?), stock is also perhaps at the root of a lot of pernicious cover group-think. It makes it all too easy to do dozens of covers that are only incrementally different (something for which designers are NOT to blame). At a minimum, I suspect everyone has a stock image or a stock cliché that they feel like they’ve seen two hundred times on various covers (low angle shots of couples lying on their stomachs with knees bent and lower legs up?).
But set that aside and take a look at this brief workshop video from stock photography master Yuri Acurs. I think this guy actually has a lot of valuable insight on world-building and what makes characters stand out. Translate his metaphors from visual to verbal, and you can see how he’d would probably be quite a popular author if he traded his cameras and strobes for a laptop and word processor (although, he’d probably want to dictate to assistants…”).