I'm a magpie. I love to collect things. Anyone who has seen my closets will tell you it's true. But it's not just things I collect. I collect ideas, stories, inspirations, sayings, thoughts, and more.
And I collect images. The reason for this is obvious (if you ask me). I have folders full of images I've collected. A physical folder for images from magazines and such and a folder on my computer for images from websites, etc.
Often times in preparing for a photo shoot, I'll look through these images. I'll search my books. I'll troll the internet. I search for things to line my nest as I prepare to birth a new set of images.
This fills my mind with ideas. Some of which I use and some of which I don't. It depends on the subject, the mood, the lighting, the setting, etc. I've rarely stolen an idea outright. I can't say never because perhaps I unintendingly have. But I don't like very posed pictures. And I work a lot with kids. Who will always insist on their own way no matter what my ideas may be.
Imitating the masters is a good way to learn. But it should never stop there, it should only be the beginning of your own inspiration.
For example, an image from Katie Mermaid, whose website no longer exists (updated 1/9/16) took an interesting image of vegetables. This inspired me to create my own. I wish I could still link it Katie's image, but it's gone...
Here are a couple of mine: