It’s said that photos are worth a thousand words and it’s not far from the truth. Photos help create emotion, they convey context and often portray the message we can only try to put into words. But taking custom photos is not usually practical nor within budget — thus the necessity for great stock photos.
Stock photos, videos, and images are key to successful projects, whether that be a flyer, a website or a blog post. Stock photos cut down on costs and time, two major things that help move projects forward. We’ve compiled our list of the best stock photo libraries that we use regularly.
- Stocksy (premium)
- ShutterStock (premium)
- iStockPhoto (premium)
- Flickr (free)
- Unsplash (free)
- Life of Pix (free)
- Death To Stock
Premium Stock Photo Libraries
These libraries offer stock images, photos, and videos with full licenses — perfect for commercial use.
Stocksy is by far our number one go to website for stock photos. Their stock images have an authenticity that many other sites lack. We’ve been impressed with their images and found images that are more lifelike and journalistic in nature than most other sites. Their library is comprehensive, but not nearly as expansive as the larger players, ie Shutterstock and iStock. We always start our search at Stocksy.
Stocksy has a film archive as well as you can find videos intertwined (see https://www.stocksy.com/#video as a start).
Their pricing is simple and straightforward, small, medium, large, extra large — no packages, but the pricing is reasonable, see pricing.Visit Stocksy
Shutterstock and iStock are very similar (a lot of times the same images), but we tend to lean towards Shutterstock. Why? Well that’s hard to answer, but their pricing structure of $49 per month for 5 images downloads works well for us — we often use them after we’ve exhausted our options with Free Libraries (below) and Stocksy.
Additionally, we use Shutterstock for video as well as vector graphics to help get a project going or fill in gaps. It’s also a good source to search a topic and get ideas centered around particular keywords or a concept.
You’ll find a lot of your typical “this is definitely a stock image” type images as well as plenty of giant street signs with all types of business buzz words, but if you weed through those, you’ll find some great stuff.Go to Shutterstock
iStock by Getty Images
Honestly, we rarely use iStock. It’s very similar to Shutterstock and our preference just happens to be ShutterStock, but that’s not to say there is not value at iStock. You can find photos, graphics, vectors, videos and more there and it’s a great place to get ideas. They offer pricing plans similar to Shutterstock.Visit iStock
Free Stock Photo Libraries
For free stock photo libraries be sure to review their license terms prior to commercial use.
Flickr Creative Commons
The best part is it is free, you can find some great stuff here, but be sure to add attribution. Though it’s not the best source for commercial use (https://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/), we’ve definitely used it before for various projects, articles, and as dummy images. It’s great for editorial and finding images that are authentic and credible – after all, they are, for the most part, “real” images, not staged.
You can narrow down your results by:
- Attribution License
- Attribution-NoDerivs License
- Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License
- Attribution-NonCommercial License
- Atribution-ShareAlike License
- Public Domain Dedication
- Public Domain
Unsplash is amazing. It’s worth a look even if you don’t need a single photo. The images are beautifully composed — it literally speaks for itself.
Unsplash is contributed to by a number of photographers. This is definitely not 6 foot back, 6 foot up (if you know what I mean). All images are completely free and even if you don’t use them for a single project, they make amazing wall art (and are large enough to print).View Unsplash
Life of Pix
Similar to Unsplash, Life of Pix has new photography added weekly and the images are high quality and completely free. This is a great source for lifestyle photos as well as more artistic shots. If we don’t find anything in Unsplash, often times we’ll turn here next.Go to Life of Pix
Now I’m a bit of a purest, well sort of, and I’m not a huge fan of online companies aggregating content and displaying it as their own, but that is exactly what StockSnap.io does (at least from what I have experienced). They have a lot of images pulled from throughout the web including other free libraries in this list, so don’t be astonished if you see the same images here as on Unsplash. But, it is a nice point of reference to start your search for free images.Search StockSnap.io