Finding the best free stock photos to use for your website or social media can actually be very frustrating. Most people seem to just use a quick Google search and pull whatever they can find. However, that’s a surefire way to end up sued!
I’ve worked for two different businesses now where someone ended up using a photo they found on a Google search. Both those businesses had to remove the photo and pay a fine that was over $1000. If you’re a small business owner that kind of fine can really hurt your momentum.
So! I’ve organized a list of sites both free and paid sites where you can find the best stock photos around.
(LEGALLY) The Best Free Stock Photos To Use
Gratisography is first on my list of the best free stock photo websites because their images are really…umm…crazy/artistic..I guess? You might find these images a little unconventional but they catch your attention way better than traditional stock photos. I mean…let’s face, it typical stock photos are the visual equivalent of white noise.
Some of my highest performing Facebook ad campaigns used photos from Gratisography. Because at the end of the day one of the first things your potential user see’s is the image associated with the content you want them to click on. When you marry relevance in your creative with something captivating you’re guaranteed to hit a home run.
Pixabay just nudges out Pexels on this list for two main reasons. First, you can download vector graphics on Pixabay. Vector graphics are graphics that can scale size without losing clarity. Which can be very helpful in a number of situations. The other reason is I BELIEVE Pixabay has a larger volume of photos to choose from than Pexels. I can’t claim that with 100% certainty but after running specific searches and browsing all the categories it would appear that Pixabay has more photos available on their site.
One thing I really like about Pexels is the way you can search for photos. Specifically, I really like having the option to search by color. Which is super helpful if you’re designing something and you need a photo that fits well with a specific color pattern.
For example if I was looking for photos with a pronounced amount of red in them, as you can clearly see below. You have a range of colors to break photos down by as you can see in this screen shot below. So if you’re struggling to find the right style of photo’s then try utilizing the search capabilities of Pexels!
Paid Sites To Use (Worth It)
Envato is a great all around service for almost anything you could ever possibly need creatively speaking. Now, Envato does offer stock photos that usually fit everything I could possibly need. However, compared to the other two paid options on this list it’s not as extensive in terms of the volume of stock photos it offers.
The reason they’re on this list though is that they offer stock images and SO MUCH MORE. With Envato Elements you have access to an amazing array of images, graphics templates, logo designs, flyer designs, and graphics created specifically for social media. So I personally have this have chosen to stick with this service over the last year instead of a stock subscription service.
Who’s This Right For?
If you’re someone who is comfortable with Adobe programs this service will be dramatically helpful in terms of providing you with creative inspiration or templates to go off of. I also found Envato Elements to be extremely useful as a student who was at the early stages of learning how to design. I think there’s merit in struggling to create from scratch but I also feel that there is a lot to be learned from dissecting templates that illustrate exactly what you’re hoping to create.
Next, I would suggest Adobe Stock because of all the paid stock photo services I’ve used they offer the best deal at $29.99 a month for 10 high-quality image downloads. It’s also important to remember that the 10 assets a month deal is only available to you if you agree to the annual commitment. If you prefer the flexibility of monthly payments you’re going to get 3 assets a month for the same price….WHICH IS A TERRIBLE DEAL.
Be sure to check out the full pricing table down below.
Who’s This Right For?
If you’re someone who feels SOME quality stock photos would make a big impact on your creative marketing material this is a great option. I say SOME because the cheapest plan is for 10 assets a month. So if yo think you’ll need more than 10 images a month I’d go with BigStock since the cost per image break down is more in your favor.
Finally, I put BigStock on here because even though they have a larger price point it’s the greatest value by far. Here you’re looking at a $79 a month plan giving you access to 5 images a day. Which essentially equates to 150 images a month at a price of $0.53 per image. Now, this is an excellent plan if you need a relatively high volume of media to use. So if you design websites, for example, you might like having access to that large volume of images for your personal creative material and your clients.
Who’s This Right For?
If you’re someone who needs a reasonably large volume of photos for commercial use (like a web developer) BIgStock should be the easy winner for you. If you feel like you wouldn’t come close to using at least 75% of your available image downloads every month you’re probably going to be wasting your money.
Thank you so much for reading if you have any questions or topics you’d like to see covered in the future leave a comment below! Also, did I miss a site that you’d recommend? Please feel free to let me know your suggestions as well!