Best Places for Free Stock Photos

If an image is worth a thousand words, then a stock photo is worth ten thousand words. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. The point is, stock photo imagery is important whether you’re a blogger, content manager, or editor. It’s often the starting point on your reader’s journey and serves to draw them into the content.

When you’re starting out or on a budget, it can be difficult to justify paying premiums for stock photo imagery. I think we can all agree it’s like oil changes–you know you need it, but it doesn’t make it any easier to pay for it. But just like oil changes, with a little practice and motivation you can DIY this necessary project. Here are some options for sourcing inexpensive stock imagery:

Unsplash

Photo by Silvia Agrasar on Unsplash
Photo by Silvia Agrasar on Unsplash

This is my favorite place to find high-quality, beautiful stock photos. (Fun fact–most of the photos on glcubel.com are from Unsplash!) Though it’s not required, you can create an account to save your favorites so they’re easier to locate next time. You can also download on the go and save to your desired location. The site also offers an easy opportunity to thank/credit the photographer by providing a URL for their profile. If able, always give props to the photographer and spread some of that creative love.

MorgueFile

Similar to Unsplash, MorgueFile offers high-quality photos for commercial use. What makes it different? The photos don’t look like stock photos. They often feature quirky, candid shots that lends an air of relatability and individualism. Think of it as the local coffee shop down the street that brews a great bean served in mismatched china cups vs. the Starbucks around the corner.

Google Advanced Image Search

This isn’t your mother’s Google image search. The advanced image search option on Google allows you to filter pictures by usage rights. “Free to use or share, even commercially” or “Free to use, share or modify, even commercially” will give you the most flexibility in usage. These are images that can be used for commercial purposes such as blogs, marketing collateral, or anything related to business. This is an easy, comprehensive method if you’re looking for a very specific type of photo.

Yourself!

Have a smartphone? Then you’re a stock photo generating machine. Snap photos of items that excite and inspire you. Even if you don’t have a piece to pair it with at the moment, save it to your own stock photo library. Not only is this option fun, but it also checks a lot of boxes:

  • No usage restrictions? ✔
  • Easy to upload? ✔
  • A photo with personality that doesn’t look like a stock photo? ✔✔✔

No matter where you obtain your stock imagery from, always make sure you’re appropriately using the image. That means adhering to the licensing and copyrights, crediting the author/creator when able, and not modifying (unless authorized under the licensing). Check out this handy guide from Upwork on photo usage rights.


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