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Where to Find Great Stock Photos

All of us as digital marketers understand that a picture speaks a thousand words. 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. Visuals are processed 60,000x faster in the brain than text. Do you struggle to find affordable and unique stock photography? We do too! So we compiled a (fairly) comprehensive list of stock photography resources for your bookmarking pleasure. 😉
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Something to keep in mind before you start searching: All photos are not created equal, and you may not have the rights to use all photography. Take a look at Vanessa’s blog post here that explains three easy ways to be sure you can legally use a photo.spacer

FREE RESOURCES

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Unsplash

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Pros
The quality of photos is unmatched. Stunning artistic photos that are taken by photographers around the globe make Unsplash my favorite resource. Search has been dramatically updated and now has a type-ahead search functionality. You can curate galleries for different projects as well as follow your favorite photographers.
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Cons
Although the library is constantly being updated there is still a limited selection of photos compared to some of the bigger names in stock photography.
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Cost
FREE
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Morgue File 

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Pros
Free high-resolution digital stock photography for corporate or public use.
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Cons
It’s an archive of past digital assets. This is usually not a problem, but
the latest and greatest photography isn’t available on Morgue File.
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Cost
FREE
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Pros
The quality of the photography is quite good on this site. There’s a large selection of imagery to choose from. They also offer to send you free photos to your inbox which could be useful.
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Cons
Searching and site navigation are difficult. It has limited filtering capabilities, but hey it’s free!
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Cost
FREE
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PAID RESOURCES (Low-High Cost)

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Pros
This is one of my favorite sites simply because of the quality of the photography. They carefully curate
all the images on the site so you’ll never see a weird person holding up a giant pencil to illustrate a point.
Very easy to navigate and use the site. Subtle watermarks on comps don’t distract from layouts.
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Cons
Not as large of a selection as some of its competitor it’s definitely more limited than larger stock photography websites.
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Cost
$10 – $100 per photo
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Adobe Stock

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Pros
If you’re already an Adobe Creative Cloud subscriber this is a no-brainer. Adobe Stock fully integrates with the CC ecosystem, so adding photos is a breeze. Preview watermarked images inside your designs first. Then license, access and manage them directly within Photoshop CC, InDesign CC, Illustrator CC, and other Adobe desktop apps. Any edits made on a watermarked photo will sync automatically when you purchase the photo. So long duplicate work.
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Cons
Need to have Adobe Creative Suite to unlock full capabilities. A subscription plan is required; the plans are somewhat limiting. Rollover a limited amount of photo credits.
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Cost
$29.99 – $199.99 per month
 
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iStock

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Pros
Largest selection of imagery of the sites mentioned here. Because of this, there is much more diversity in image quality. You can find beautiful shots, but it might take some digging. There’s a large assortment of illustrations and icon resources. Recently subscriptions began to allow rollover credits, so if one month you don’t use all your allotted credits you can use them the following month and so on with no penalty.
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Cons
It can be kind of difficult to find exactly what you’re looking for. There’s a lot of typical cheesy stock photos here. Steer clear of anything too clichéd. Photos also have very obvious watermarks on comps.
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Cost
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Snapwire 

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Pros
High-quality searchable photography library. Allows you to create a custom photo request where proven photographers shoot unique subjects for your specific needs. Allows you to get the exact type of shot that you’re looking for by crowdsourcing your photography needs. Perfect when all your photo searching fails and you really need a custom photo shoot for much less money than a typical photo shoot.
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Cons
There’s no guarantee if you’ll get exactly what you’re looking for. Need to wait a few days for requests to be processed and submissions to be entered. The larger your budget the more requests you’re likely to get.
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Cost
Free – $500+
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Getty Images

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Pros
High-quality photos with very diverse and powerful imagery. Unique photos.
Credit line and a percentage of the cost goes directly to the photographer.
No watermarks on comps if you sign into the site.
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Cons
Significantly more expensive than other sites mentioned.
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Cost
$50 – $800
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Finding the right photo is a crucial step in catching people’s attention. We hope that these resources will help you find the exact photo that tells your story in a compelling way.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2016 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.