The fact is, if you want to have a successful website, blog, or other online presence it’s necessary to have high quality images on your posts and page. A great start to that end is finding high resolution photos to use. Your images ultimately attract attention of readers, make your page a pleasant thing to look at, increase the shareability of your posts, and overall improve your marketability by making sure that there are always more sets of eyes on your content. There are entire courses online devoted to creating great photos for Instagram marketing, for goodness’ sake, so it’s obvious that images are important! Occasionally a post can survive on good content alone, but we live in an incredibly visual world.
The bottom line is when you use high quality images, you’re going to get more attention, and every blogger I know has “get noticed” on their website to do list. The problem is, unless you already have a professional grade camera or are best friends with a photographer, finding awesome images that suit your purposes may be hard to get your hands on with the proper licenses for use. Of course no one goes into blogging thinking “hey, I’d like to get sued today”, but that unfortunately doesn’t keep it from happening when they unknowingly use images which don’t belong to them or which aren’t available for free commercial use on the public domain. That is why it’s important to either A: buy stock images/the rights to stock images so that you may use them in the way that you need to or B: find amazing free resources. Now, the free resources may have the option to pay for premium features or photo sets, but they don’t REQUIRE payment. So now, onto the good stuff!
These first few resources are my favorites because they take a lot of the guesswork out of trying to find photos. They email new images to their members (even free members!) on a regular basis. Sometimes I’m not sure what photo I want to include in my post, but then I’ll get an email from one of these providers and inspiration will strike!
- http://www.createherstock.com/ – CreateHER Stock is a new resource that I am absolutely in love with, and is the source of the featured image of this post. This website features photographs of black models and by black photographers. I love the fact that it’s more inclusive than some of the stock photo sites I’ve seen which largely feature waif thin models in hipster attire. Granted, I love the hipster photo and have used some myself, but our world is a diverse place and I think we could all benefit if the internet reflected that a bit better. The site just launched, but so far they have fitness images, general images, fashion images, cosmetic images, and writing/tech/blogging images.
- https://picjumbo.com/ – Picjumbo is one of my favorites from this list! I love seeing emails from them which is pretty rare for me. (Most emails that aren’t about useful blogging things, attempts to get me to interview actors/review films or books, from my editor at Wicked Horror, or a submission for my Splatterpunk Anthology end up getting ignored for a while or trashed. Such is life!) Their periodic emails are always full of a variety of images, from nature to tech to fashion, so there’s always something useful regardless of what posts I have cooking/on my agenda.
- http://www.unsplash.com – Unsplash is a pretty straightforward concept. They send 10 beautiful, high quality images to your inbox every 10 days. The images are totally random, but are CONSISTENTLY beautiful and sometimes I find the perfect image for my next blog headline or instagram graphic. If you visit the site rather than waiting on their email then you can actually search for things, but I tend to prefer the Russian roulette “what do you have for me this time?” approach.
- http://deathtothestockphoto.com/ – Death To The Stock Photo is pretty common. They send a pack of high quality images to your inbox monthly, and they come with a pretty cool narrative about where the photos are from, what inspired the shoot, and where you can get more (for a price). Honestly, I have yet to find an image from this site that really speaks to me, but I can’t deny that all of their images are gorgeous and
perfect for bloggers… Just not me!
Still Convenient, but SansNewsletter:
Although these resources don’t allow me to be superlazy and send new photos to me, I love these because of the quality of the images and the fact that they’re still free for any purpose.
- http://morguefile.com/ – Morguefile is a very interesting site where you can access a variety of free photos, but also they have a myriad of paid photo sites in their database as well. Before you ask “isn’t that kind of morbid..?” or wonder what kind of photo sites I’m promoting, know that according to their website: “The term “morgueFile” is popular in the newspaper business to describe the file that holds past issues flats. Although the term has been used by illustrators, comic book artist, designers and teachers as well. The purpose of this site is to provide free image reference material for use in all creative pursuits. This is the world wide web’s morguefile.” Neat! Honestly I clicked on this one for the name and stay for the beautiful photos.
- http://www.freeimages.com/ — Free Images is all about, you guessed it, free images. They have over 391,438 images at the time of this posting and are growing all the time. Their homepage layout groups their images by category (from “textures and patterns” for graphic work to “army and weapons”, you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for quickly even if you aren’t sure EXACTLY what the keyword for it should be.)
- https://pixabay.com/ – Pixabay is another site with an amazingly easy to use, category based interface. I love that you can find vector images here in addition to photographs. (Sometimes that just works better, am I right?) They also have a neat “editors choice” function which allows you to see images handpicked by their editors, but even the ones that have simply been submitted by their editors.
- http://getrefe.com/ – Refe offers both for sale and free photos, so you have to make sure you’re in the “free” section when you download, but these photos are all beautiful and high quality. From technology and abstract to landscape and lifestyle, this site has a variety of images for every need.
- http://www.photospublicdomain.com/ – Photos Public Domain is exactly what it sounds like, a database of public domain images that have been released for public use. Like all of these sites, this one has photos in a variety of areas, so it’s fun to poke around when looking for ideas for post graphics.
- http://cupcake.nilssonlee.se/ – I love the images on this site! The majority of them, from the industrial dials and knitting hands to the woodlands and indoor shots look like they belong on an inspirational poster or quote. The only reason this site doesn’t rank higher on my list (not that it’s necessarily a top ten) is because the site layout isn’t as intuitive as some of the others I like to use. With that being said, the photos are gorgeous and the owner is very personable/loves to see examples of their photos being used. It’s always nice when someone appreciates your graphical efforts!
So there are my Ten Favorite Free Stock Photo Sites! Check them out immediately and add the ones you think are best to your favorites list or pin this post for future reference. Shout out in the comments and let me know what your favorite stock image resource is, or why you choose not to utilize images in your posts. I’d love to hear from you!
Update 11/18/15: Unsplash is running a Kickstarter Campaign to fund a gorgeous photo book. Check out their Kickstarter here and consider backing the project if you support free, high quality photography.