Stock Photos have long been a part of web design. Unfortunately, most of them are quite crappy, definitely not cheap and waaaaay overused. I mean, we've all seen that one photo of the two businessmen shaking hands or the "staged" business meeting one. Whenever I go on a website and see something like that my first thought is "mediocre and unimaginative". And those are two words you definitely don't want attached to your business.
Exhibit A: Overused Stock Photos = Bad Rep
Luckily, you don't have to settle for that. In recent years there's been a growing number of great photographers who've been sharing their beautiful photos on a bunch of cool websites. Think stunning city landscapes, authentic looking people (not staged overexposed models), macros of plants and food, and startup vibe photos.
Best thing is they are absolutely free! Meaning you can download them in high quality (no more 600x400px jokes) and use them commercially on your website.
In this post, I've compiled a list of the 10 best places you can get those free stock photos.
Most of the photographs on the websites I've selected are free from any copyright restrictions or are licensed under the Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication. This means you can copy, modify and distribute the photos for commercial purposes, without asking for permission. Basically, you won't have to worry about using them on your website and getting a legal notice.
Still, be sure to always check the licenses carefully. Some photos may require you to attribute the original author in order to use them.
With the legal stuff out of the way we can dig in my selection of best places to get free good stock photos.
Unsplash is simply amazing. Easily my Top 1 choice when it comes to unique photos. And trust me, they are unique. They feature 10 photos every 10 days. Those are chosen by notable creatives and since the curators are from varied backgrounds, it brings a wide range of photographs and different styles to the featured photos. Their collection has grown strong in the past years up to the point where even NASA submits photos to their website! Cool thing - all photos on Unsplash are released under the creative commons public domain license and require no attribution.
As described on their website "We send beautiful photos straight to your inbox." Dead simple. Dead straight. Death To Stock was born when photographers Allie and David noticed how hard it is to find free high-quality images that have a unique vibe to them. They release a photo pack each month and deliver it to your inbox. Each pack focuses on a specific theme like Community, Sweat and Dinner. They also have a Premium option for $15/month, which gives you access to all previous packs.
Magdeleine offers one new free hi-resolution photo every day. They've been doing it for more than 800 days now. Each photo is picked by the editors. Most of them are released under the CC0 - Public Domain, but there are also some that require attribution.
Startup Stock Photos was started as an outlet for photos that @estrattonballey and @wearesculpt had already been taking on a regular basis. The photos they take are aimed towards startups, bloggers, publishers, websites, designers, developers & creators, and they give them out completely for free.
NegativeSpace offers up new free stock photos every week. Their goal is to give photographers a platform whereby they can share their photography with the world. Each of the high-quality photographs there have been taken by a photographer from the NegativeSpace community. They have something for everybody with categories like Architecture, Business, Sport, Technology and others.
All of their photos are shared without copyright restrictions, meaning that you are free to use them however you please.
FancyCrave believe that people are tired of cheesy stock photos and instead want emotionally driven images that tell a story. They give you just that. Everyday they handpick and giveaway 2 free photos, each licensed under CCO.
Life of Pix is created by Leeroy Advertising and their network of photographers. They add new photos weekly and donate them to the CCO Public Domain. Every week they also feature one new photographer and highlight 10 of his/hers photos on the website.
Realistic Shots is a project by Commit 2 Design. They pick 7 new photos every week and give them for personal and commercial use, so that people can make something creative. Photos are released under a CC0 Public Domain license.
For all the foodies out there FoodiesFeed offers thousands of beautiful realistic free pictures of... you guessed it - food. It's been running since April 2014 and has grown to also offer free digital resources related to food.
Picography is made by the guys behind Hidden Depth, an Ireland based design agency. They don't have a wide selection, but the few photos you can snag from there are all pretty good. They also have a Premium option for $15/month, which gives access to premium collections and exclusive photos.
Don't compromise when it comes to the photos you use on your website. Even if you don't have the budget to afford shooting your own photographs, or buying royalty free stock photos, there are many free alternatives from which you can get amazing content. Just dig deep enough and always aim for the right one.
And when you find it, upload it to Puzl and publish it on your website.
Written by: Alex
Lead Designer @ Puzl