Top 10 Stock Image Sites
Everyone knows that a picture is worth a thousand words, and using the right image with your blog or social media content can dramatically increase click-through and customer engagement. However, searching for the right image can be time consuming and difficult for content marketers, especially with little or no budget.
We're here to bring you 10 of our favourite royalty free stock photography websites available right now.
One of our favourites for stylish, high quality and high resolution photos is Unsplash. Royalty free photography is provided, and attribution isn't compulsory but is appreciated. The high quality nature of photos on this website means it is very popular with agencies and small businesses alike. Incidentally, there is also a strong community aspect to the site which has resulted in a store and book.
With almost one million images, Pixabay provides a plethora of royalty free stock images, illustrations, vector graphics and videos. The assets are provided by free and funded through advertising by paid-for sites like Shutterstock which appear in search results. Note - contributors include other sites such as Unsplash, so you may prefer to use one or the other.
Another agency favourite, Flickr's creative commons licence allows users to download and use images from photographers and contributors who have given their permission. As always, ensure that you select images with the right licence for the purpose, for example an 'attribution, non-commercial' image can only be used for non-commercial purposes, with appropriate attribution. Well worth a visit.
Top tip - on searching in Flickr, ensure that the top left filter is checked for the type of licence you need.
Content managers and digital marketing writers would be wise to sign up to the free monthly photo packs sent by Death to the Stock Photo, which bills itself a being "built for creatives with great taste and high expectations". We can't argue with that!
Pexels is another aggregating site, including libraries from other websites. However, they add over 3,000 new images a month and select high quality photography to feature. Pexels is another site which offers downloads with the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license.
Another site with beautiful imagery is StockSnap. This site also carries the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, allowing you to copy, modify, distribute any photo on the site, even for commercial purposes, without asking permission. We recommend signing up for the weekly newsletter to receive a regular supply of fresh photography in your inbox.
Free Images is a long-standing site offering free, attribution-based imagery, and exclusive imagery which cannot be found elsewhere. A word of caution though, as the quality of imagery provided isn't as high as some other sites, more time is required to filter through to find what you want.
Burst is a site after our hearts. Build by Shopify, it aims to help entrepreneurs, designers, developers and bloggers to create stunning blog hero images, social media campaigns, client work and more. As you'd expect, there is a good range of high quality, quirky and stylish imagery to choose from, all royalty free with a credit preferred.
For an alternative style of photography, try Gratisography. We love the angle used by photographer Ryan McGuire, who depicts subjects with an original approach and post-production twist.
Adobe Images is a paid-for service, but users who signup can claim 10 free images, which can be very useful if you are struggling to find high quality imagery on free stock imagery sites for your particular search. We recommend sites like Adobe Images or iStockphoto for seasonal campaigns, such as Father's Day coming up this weekend, as free stock images can sometimes be lacking or too repetitive in these areas.
So there we have it - our top 10 free to use photography websites. Do let us know if you have any of your own to add to the list!
When searching for imagery to compliment your marketing content, use our tips to make sure you get what you need:
- Check the licence of the image you are downloading carefully, and make sure that if you plan to edit the image or use it for commercial purposes, that the licence from the originator allows you to do so.
- Check whether attribution is required, and apply a photo credit as needed. Generally, it is best practice to do so. Unsplash has a useful guide on how to do this very easily.
- If your search isn't returning any results that you like the look of, try adjusting your search to a wider search that isn't as literal in the interpretation.
- Where possible, avoid stock images that are used repetitively in your industry, and spend a little more time finding high quality but unique imagery.
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