I'm that crazy lady you see at the park taking pictures of tree bark, or lying on the driveway taking pictures of asphalt. I love texture. When I go shopping, I have to touch everything I see (shades of Monk here). If I love a sweater, but hate the texture, I won't buy it. Conversely, I've actually bought things that don't look all that hot just because of the way they feel.
I guess that's why I got so excited when I discovered all the cool places on the Internet that offer free textures to use in digital design. Some of these textures, I'll use just as they are. Other times, I'll desaturate a texture photo, and use Photoshop's blending tools to add a more tactile feel to a piece of art.
One of my favorite sites is devoted strictly to textures. Mayang's Free Texture Library has more than 3,400 free-to-download, free-to-use textures. You can download up to 20 textures a day at no charge, or purchase a DVD with every single texture for $50.
TextureKing is a project created and maintained by REH3design. Throughout the site you will find a growing repository of high quality texture photos that are free for personal and professional use. This site is so well-designed that it's just fun to go there and look through the photos. (Yes, I'm a nerd.)
Rock photo from Texture King.
If all of this motivates you to photograph your own texture shots, Tyler Wanlass has a great PDF tutorial with all kinds of wonderful tips. Or, if you'd like to create your own textures without ever leaving Photoshop, check out Vered's Fake Real Texture tutorial.