I created the cover for my new book but while I'm not ready to post it yet I will talk about the road to it.
I decided to get a stock photo of a young model. Unfortunately that was a lot harder than I expected because all the photos were wholesome young things and I wanted someone edgier. I finally found this at www.shutterstock.com
So I thought that worked pretty well. The problem I felt was that readers would get the idea that this is the main character and it's not. Then I finished the book and different search terms came to me. I found a couple pictures that were close. Changing sites, I found the same set but with an additional photo that was more accurate. I went back to the first site and searching through that photographer's gallery found the same photo for less. Yay me, it's a sin to buy retail etc.
I still think people who look at the second cover will initially (or maybe always) think the woman in the image is the main character. Of course it's not, the main character is a teen. I couldn't find an image that specific. So either way I'm a little bit off.
So $2.99 for the image and some of my time with Photoshop or what $600 for a designer. Um even with my math skills I can see that making concessions is the financially viable thing to do. Unless you can take the photo yourself or you can draw, try to make life as simple for yourself as possible. Don't fall in love with an idea so complicated that it'll drive you nuts trying to make it happen.