Many people struggle with finding good professional images for their website. Such images can really enhance your site and take it up a notch. Most of the time these stock photos, as they’re called, are not free and you can end up racking up a hefty bill if you purchase just a few photos. For example, on Shutterstock, one single image can cost you up to $9! The good news, and what many people don’t know, is that you have a few options where you can get free professional-quality stock photos.
Let’s take a look at some of these and their unique features (In no particular order). I have also used each one to look for the featured photos on this list:
One of the more common and popular sources for free stock photos is Pexels. I have used the site myself and really like how the site is organized like a traditional paid stock photo site. It will remind you of sites like Shutterstock, except that everything is free! Pexels also lets you download videos.
The cool thing about this site is that you can actually set a custom image size for the photo. For example, let’s say that the photo you wish to download is a 1000 px by 1000 px image, but you want it to be double the size, well you can do just that and the photo will download at that set size. I don’t know how they do this, seems like some sort of sorcery.
Pixabay is similar in presentation to Pexels. It also offers photos and videos, but on top of that they offer illustrations and vector files. Having all of these different types of resources in one place is very convenient. The selection is also very high in quality.
What’s interesting and unique about Pixabay is their advanced search features, like searching by colors, orientation, and the use of operators. For example, you can use the dash operator to exclude specific images from your results. It looks something like this: “red flower -rose". This command searches for all red flowers but excludes roses from the search results. Very useful in making your results more precise.
You can read more about their advanced search features and other operators here: Pixabay Advanced Image Search .
Many people don’t know that on Google you can get free stock photos for personal and commercial use. All you have to do is search for an image in the Image search section of Google, and click on the “Tools" button under the search bar, then in the advanced tools click “Usage Rights" and switch it to “Labeled for reuse". All the reusable images will then appear. Awesome!
This is neat, because with the added power of Google indexing you can search millions of photos from all sorts of websites in one spot. The problem is that the results are not tailored to only show photos from professional photographers, like Pexels and Pixabay is. You will come across pictures of less quality and will have to dig more for the quality ones. The good news is that it does include quality stock images and as long as you use good terms many of them will show up at the top.
This site doesn’t have as much search filters that the other sites on this list have, but it has a genuine feel to all of its content. All images on this site comes from professional photographers, and the community seems very passionate about what they do. It shows.
What I like about Unsplash is that it features related search terms to the ones you search at the top of the search results. Also, they feature a nice group of photo collections with content that is usually in need and wanted. The collections feature photos that are very unique, connects well with general audiences, and is some of the best content they have on their site.
Shopify is a well-known, eCommerce-focused, web-building platform. They provide solutions for those who choose the route of publishing their own website, that is if you don’t mind their monthly fees. In some cases, it makes sense to go that route and in others it’s just preference. What is less known about Shopify is that they also provide a free stock photo platform that can be used by anyone. It doesn’t matter if you subscribe to their services or not. The platform is called Burst.
Burst is one of the best platforms on this list. Personally, I like how the design of the site is simple and very clear. The platform was built for websites and small businesses in mind, so all of the images are in high and low resolutions for different purposes. A great feature about Burst is that every photo has a detailed description about what is going on within the photo. This allows you to make detailed searches about what you want the photo to contain. For example, you can search “Looking at the computer", instead of just “computer". This is a feature that I was looking for a long time. The only other platform that I’ve seen do this well is Google Images.
With this list of resources I’m sure you will find great fitting photos for any purpose in your growing website or business venture. It is a blessing that we have such tools at our disposal today and it is all thanks to the creative artists who contribute. You don’t have to break your wallet in order to look professional! Not anymore. 🙂