Do you know what the biggest problem for me as a cover artist is?
Seriously, unless you charge a fortune to cover your costs or your customer is able to buy one of the expensive photos from either istock or an actual photographer, then there's not really all that much unique choice out there on your affordable stock image sites.
I'm not going to start pulling any covers up in particular (scroll through my covers page and you can probably play guess where you've seen that guy before) but I see the same men popping up all the time...and you know why? Because they're hot and because they're cheap (just the way men should be lol). The worst offenders? Blond men. OMG it is a nightmare to find a sexy blond guy, second to that long haired sexy guys, they're all like 15 or well, not quite the hot and sexy authors are looking for.
I guess it's a case of first, luck, if you make a surprising find while scrolling through the 10,000 dark haired men you pull up on a search (some off these being blonde women. WTF search?!), second, set your sights a little lower, use those guy-next-door types instead of the Oh-am-I-drooling models, or third, it comes down to what-you-do-with-it.
I like to think I can create something special for an author and make it project the emotion and genre of their book, their story, not someone else's who may have the exact same guy in the exact same pose. I can change eye colour, hair colour, to some extent I can add hair (Is he wearing a toupee?) different clothes, different backgrounds, but unless I give him a moustache, dark glasses, and a baseball cap, it's still that guy that was on that cover over there, as well.
I do wonder if readers realise this sometimes when they point out where they've seen a model before..."Oh, isn't that blahblah from whatsimebob? Look everyone, someone else already used this picture for their story first." Way to kill the author's excitement. It's their cover for their story that they've put everything into. Their baby and someone's given their characters actual faces, something for readers to refer to. Authors with different publishers/cover artists even find themselves with the same guy on multiple books, but again, it's down to costs and what is available for lower prices.
So, there you have it, my greatest nemesis... the stock photo site.