What comes to mind when you hear the term “stock photo”?
Probably a group of people in a well-lit room pointing at graphs or shaking hands. Or women who really, really love salad. Or something so weird, you question the sanity of the people involved. Whatever the case, most stock photos, if they’re not totally unusable, are so generic and boring that they suck the life out of whatever content they’re accompanying. I’m looking at you, guy staring at the camera with his arms crossed.
But before you resolve yourself to either having to whip up your own images or pay top dollar for high-quality ones, know that good—free—stock photography actually exists. You just have to know where to look for it!
Here are some of the top sites for finding high quality, diverse images for the right price (as in, no price).
Unsplash is full of high-res, super-beautiful images that look like they were taken by the coolest and most talented hipster you wish you were friends with. They update their site every 10 days with 10 new photos that you can, as they say, do whatever you want with.
Pixabay does the grunt work of finding photos, vectors, and drawings that are both public domain and actually look good. No need to wonder about copyrights or attribution—just pop in what you're looking for and get downloadin',
MorgueFile (a term for a place where post-production materials are kept for use of reference) is a place for artists, illustrators, creatives, instructors, and anyone looking for free, usable visuals to find exactly what they're looking for. They are "the world wide web's morgueFile."
Death to the Stock Photo is a subscription-based service started by two photographers who wanted to help other creatives get access to authentic, consistently good photos. Sign up for free to have a package of photos delivered to you every month, or pay $10/month to get an extra package as well as access to all past and future photos.
Gratisography is an image hub created by Ryan McGuire of Bells Design full of high-resolution images that you can use for both personal and commercial purposes. Downloading is super easy—all you have to do is click—and new images are added weekly so you'll always have fresh ones to choose from.
Picjumbo has one of my favorite navigations for finding the right image. You can see the latest pictures, sort by category, or search for a specific keyword. While there are plenty of free, high-quality photos available, Picjumbo also offers premium services which get you even more.
Magdeleine is described as "hand-picked free photos for your inspiration." It's categorized by nature, city and architecture, food, animals, people, technology, objects, and abstract, so there's a little something for everybody. And the photos are absolutely stunning.
8. Photo Pin
Photo Pin uses the Flickr API and searches Creative Commons to compile photos for bloggers to use. Just search for a certain topic and hundreds of photos will appear for you to choose from. They make things easy by providing different sizes to download, as well as the HTML link for attribution.