Design Lessons & Trends, Marketing & Branding Advice

Where to Find Great Stock Photos

Stockphoto Search

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. 😉

Something to keep in mind before you start searching: All photos are not created equal, and you may not have the right 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.

 

Budget-Friendly Free Resources

Unsplash.com

Unsplash.com

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 type-ahead search functionality. You can also search for multiple words by using the + symbol. For example, “employment+law” will return more targeted results. You can curate galleries for different projects as well as follow your favorite photographers.

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 for specific queries. Search still isn’t as robust as other sites.

Cost

FREE

 

Pexels.com

Pexels

Pros

Pexels is a great free resource. Search works well and you can easily use multiple keywords. It has a great library of diverse photos that are artistic and on topic. They have a nice trending feature which allows you to see whats popular by category. They also offer royalty-free video!

Cons

It has some crossover with other free platforms so not all the photos are unique to the site. The library can be somewhat limiting as well.

Cost

FREE

 

Pixabay.com

Pixabay

Pros

1.7 million+ library of royalty-free and free stock photography makes Pixabay a fantastic resource. They also have illustrations, video, vectors graphics, and other materials that are all completely free. They have a more advanced search which makes it easier to find what you’re looking for.

Cons

The quality of the imagery isn’t quite as curated as some of the other resources. You’re more likely to find typical cheesy stock imagery on the platform.

Cost

FREE

 

Canva.comCanva.com

Pros

Free high-resolution digital stock photography for corporate or public use.

Cons

Canva.com offers an easy-to-use design tool for creating and exporting graphics. Their creative stock photo library is an added bonus.

Cost

FREE

 

MorgueFile.comMorguefile.com

Pros

Free high-resolution digital stock photography for corporate or public use.

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.

Cost

FREE

 

Picjumbo.com

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.

Cons

Searching and site navigation are difficult. It has limited filtering capabilities, but hey it’s free!

Cost

FREE

 

Paid Resources

Stocksy.com

Stocksy.com

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.

Cons

Not as large of a selection as some of its competitor it’s definitely more limited than larger stock photography websites.

Cost

$10 – $100 per photo

 

Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock

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.

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.

Cost

10 free images to start then plans begin at $29.99 – $199.99 per month

 

iStockphoto.comiStockphoto.com

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.

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 cliched. Photos also have very obvious watermarks on comps.

Cost

 

Snapwi.re

07 Snapwire

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.

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.

Cost

Free – $500+

 

GettyImages.com

08 Getty Images

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.

Cons

Significantly more expensive than other sites mentioned.

Cost

$50 – $800

 

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.

For more Free Stock Photo Resources take a look here.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2016 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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