You’ve found your perfect domain, set up your WordPress site, written a few blog posts but now you need images. Unless you are creating your own, you’ll need a good source for stock images! Stock images can be expensive and difficult to manage when it comes to licensing which is why we have created this tier list of the best sites for stock images, free and paid.
Unsplash has a large array of free images with very little credit required, as it’s optional to link back to the photographer/graphic designer who produced the photo. Unsplash offers quality over quantity, so searching with a specific keyword is vital.
Unsplash’s search tool is the fastest way to find a picture, but if you have a little time of your hands, check out Collections – groups of photos sorted by other users into themes like Light and Shadow, Street Life, and Into the Wild. You can create your own collections after signing up for an account. They’re ideal for inspiration, or gathering resources for a project.
Freepik has a larger selection of options to pick from, whether it’s vectors, stock images or PSD files. Plus it has a free and paid option. Freepik is great for its selection of vectors and stock images but can be a more expensive platform to use.
The photos are consistently high quality, and artists are paid for their contributions. There’s an excellent selection of filters that you can use to find exactly the right stock photo, and you can even upload and existing image to find similar pictures.
This is probably the most unique in terms of selection. The stock images which Gratisography offer are free and are quite quirky and bold. These are less like the stock images you will see at other vendors and they have no copyright restrictions.
Gratisography doesn’t offer as much content as some other free stock photo sites.
Pixabay offers you the ability to use its stock images whilst only politely asking to link to the original creator. As such, these images are entirely free for commercial use and for use in your blog/editing.
Once you’ve found a suitable free stock photo, choose an appropriate resolution (print projects will need a much higher resolution than online ones) and complete a Captcha to download the file. You can cut out the Captcha by signing up for a free account.
The quality of photography isn’t as consistently high as Unsplash, but if you can’t find the free stock photo you need there, Pixabay might be able to help.
Pexels is a particularly good choice for web or app designers, with an excellent set of device images that are ideal for displaying interface mockups. A couple of images stray close to stock photo cheesiness (ideas that are tricky to illustrate spelled out with scrabble tiles, for example), but the vast majority are creative and original.
Pexels has a category dedicated to space photography, which looks amazing, but bear in mind that some of the material is from NASA – one of the organizations whose images should only be used in specific contexts.