The Best Small Business Stock Photography Resource Guide | Sorted by Style & Subject
If you’re crafting a blog, updating your website, or designing a beautiful email campaign, killer images are necessary. Images break up text and make information easy to digest, in addition to adding a stunning visual compliment to your design. But alas, finding high quality, relevant images can be anything from a pain in the butt to a straight up barrier to your project. Thankfully, the world of stock photography exists just a few clicks away.
Before we dive in to the goodies (a whopping list of resources and a few helpful tips), here’s some handy jump links that will take you right to the section you’re interested in:
- Premium Stock Photography Resources
- Free Stock Photography Resources
- Stock by Subject Matter/Style
- Understanding Stock Photography
- Picking The Right License
Paid Stock Photography Sources
If you would rather just dish out a little cash for “premium” photos rather than spend time looking around the web for something free that fits what you’re looking for, there several options. Here are a few of our favorites paid stock resources:
- Shutterstock. Basic Plan including 5 images with Standard License, $49. Tons of search filters and types of files, including vectors
- iStock. 3 asset credits with Standard License, $33. Flexible pricing for royalty free images, videos, and vectors
- Adobe Stock. Monthly plan with 3 assets per month, $29.99 and no annual committment. Pairs perfectly with Adobe Creative Suite for testing images before purchase
- Alamy. Pricing is per image with a range of $20 to $200 for a variety of usage rights. Over 90 million assets to choose from!
- SC Stockshop. Pricing is per image with a range of $49 to $247 for collections. Coordinates with your branding using a color search feature
- DepositPhotos – Three plans available including a Flexible Plan which includes 30 images a month and rollover credits, $29. Also offers vectors and videos.
- Social Squares – Beautiful minimalistic images specifically cropped for Instagram to help you build a follow-worthy feed of fresh, beautiful visual content. Pricing per image is $15, with a buy 2 images get 1 free discount.
Free Stock Photography Sources
There are plenty of places to get free stock photography, and there are high quality images that are free to use commercially too. It just requires a little more effort to find them. The most important thing is knowing where to look. Trust us, you do not want to hunt blindly around the internet to find images—your kids will be graduating college before you get what you’re looking for. Instead, focus your search efforts on these Fuze Approved sources:
- Unsplash. The tagline says it all: “Free (do whatever you want) hi-resolution photos.”
- This extended list by Dustin Sonos. Images curated by a designer
- Flickr. There’s a search option that allows you to select for commercial use images. Even better, images with a Creative Commons 0 license are “all rights granted,” so you can use them however you want.
- Kaboom Pics. Wide range of photos free for commercial or personal use.
- Pic Jumbo. You can even download the entire library of free images!
- Gratisography. Library of stock free of copyright restrictions
- RawPixel – Even includes PSD mock-ups and vectors!
Free Stock Photos By Subject Matter & Style
Looking for a specific type of photo for your next project? We’ve done a little bit of the legwork for you and directly linked some sites with categories from food to space and more. Most of these images are free for commercial use. Just be sure to check the site for specific licensing requirements, if any:
- Fancy Crave – Some legitimately mouth-watering food and drink photos here
- Foodies Feed – Photographs just for the food lovers! Even includes some digital goodies like templates and icons
- Pexels – Tons of flatlay and plated food options
- Travel Coffee Book – Curated collection of stunning travel, nature photos
- Picography – A variety of scenic images by photographer and avid traveler, Dave Meier. He has a premium option too!
- PeekSpace – An out-of-this-world collection of NASA’s images from space
- BucketListly – You can select the region of the world you want photos of.
- SplitShire – 12 Pages of technology and business related images
- Startup Stock Photos – Perfect for small businesses and startups
- RawPixel – Great variety of styles here
- StockSnap – Huge selection of images with a wide variety of styles
- SplitShire – A wide variety of people-centric images from editorial to lifestyle and fashion
- Gratisography – Beautiful, curated collection of whimsical and bright people photography
- NegativeSpace – Tons of images perfect for pairing with copy
- Jay Mantri – Plenty of professional, CC0 images that are great for adding text
- Photype.co – This site allows you to preview your crop and text on free photos from Pexels.
- Magdeleine – Some really gorgeous options with negative space
- Unsplash – Over 600 images curated for beautiful typography
Black & White/Vintage
- New Old Stock Travel- Amazing collection of vintage, public domain images
- Unsplash – Almost 400 black & white images in a variety of styles
- Vintage Stock Photos – Tons of categories such as Road Trip, Suburban Life, and Advertising
Understanding Stock Photography
Stock photography consists of photo libraries that are created with the intention to be re-used in commercial projects (as opposed to hiring a photographer to create images just for you). That said, it doesn’t mean they’re just free to use. Stock photography can generally be lumped into two categories: free and paid. Some content creators allow their work to be used commercially (for profit) or for personal use for free, but you need to read the license closely to determine how you’re allowed to use the image. Paid content will require you to purchase a license for usage rights, and that can get a little confusing.
Picking The Right License for Usage Rights
Acquiring the rights to use an image you want to use is important, both so that you’re not infringing on someone’s intellectual property rights, and so that you’re not paying for usage rights that you don’t need. Licenses vary depending on the way or extent to which you plan on using that image. There are a lot of specifics if you really want to get into it, but image licenses tend to differentiate along these general lines:
- Commercial use. Are you going to be using the image to make money in any way? If so, you’ll want an image that covers commercial use.
- Modification. Will you be making any changes to the image itself (including cropping)? If so, you’ll want a license that allows for modification.
- Attribution. When it comes to places like Creative Commons and Flickr (more on these later), you’ll really want to pay attention to the attribution requirements. Some photographers will require that any re-use of their images come with an attribution, while others won’t.
We can’t emphasize it enough. Do. Your. Research. to determine your responsibilities before you proceed.
[Pro Tip: Creative Commons Zero, or CC0, licensed items have zero restrictions, meaning they are free for commercial or personal use however you so choose.]
New stock sources are popping up everyday. What’s your favorite source for free stock photos or best-investment paid services? Share with the community in a comment below!
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