design, branding, websites

7 Great free stock photos sources for your website and brand

3

JUNE, 2020

Design
Branding,
Websites

Images and photographs are a huge part of a brand identity, they can easily convey your brand message and enhance your brand values. They are an integral part of branding, web and graphic design and they can set the stage for the overall success of your brand identity.

Good and meaningful images can improve the user experience of a website, they can trigger emotions and help your audience comprehend your content better. 

Marketing today is becoming more and more visually oriented, with the increased role of Social Media and Content Marketing we need to pay careful attention to the use of images to communicate our message. 

Getting your own photos taken can be expensive when done by a professional photographer, and photos taken with your phone sometimes don’t do justice to your brand. Most small businesses and start-ups don’t have the budget to invest in professional photoshoots, here is where Stock Photos sites come to the rescue. 

There are a growing number of websites with free stock photos, thanks to the immense talent and generosity of photographers around the world. Many of them don’t even require attribution, although it’s always nice to say thank you and attribute the work of others where you’re using their images for free!

Woman holding a camera

Photo by Marco Xu on Unsplash

A brief note about licences

Once you have found an image or a stock photo website you like, you have to make sure you read their licensing permissions. Some of these sites will let you use their images for free but will ask for attribution to the photographer or the website, and others won’t.  Also, you need to double check if the images are allowed to be used commercially.

We have added a quick note about licencing for each of these websites listed below, but we encourage you to do your own research and always double check licencing restrictions before using any of these sites.

Most of the stock photos available on these websites are bound to the Creative Commons licencing, which means that the photographer makes his/her work available to use free of charge, but with some potential restrictions. There are several types of CC licences, and one of the most popular type used for stock images is Creative Commons Zero (CC0) which by definition is “Freeing content globally without restrictions” – but again, we can’t forget that we are using work created by others and we must make sure to read their conditions and respect them.

Our favourite Free Stock photos websites

There are a lot of free stock images websites available today, but this list below contains the ones we really love in terms of style and quality of the images, and those we actually use in our work with our clients.

1. Unsplash

Probably our favorite free stock photo site when we need to find free photos for websites and marketing pieces. Unsplash has a large collection of high quality and beautiful stock photos. It has one of the best search tools for finding exactly what you need, and you can also browse collections made by other people with specific themes. 

Licence: Unsplash allows you to use the image without attribution. But they kindly ask you to be nice and say thank you to the photographer by attributing their work.

2. Pexels

Pexels is another great source with beautifully curated photos, they have a good search tool and also make it easy to discover a set of images through their discovery pages. Pexels also have great quality videos you can use for free.

Licence: Images and videos are free to use, attribution is not required, but they mention that giving credit to the photographer or Pexels is always appreciated.

3. Burst

From the team at Shopify, Burst is a great collection of royalty free stock images not only for ecommerce sites, they have a nice source of inspiration with thousands of high quality and beautiful images. The main page displays a nice number of collections by categories, and you can also look up by specific terms.

Licence: Some photos are released under Creative Commons CC0 license, and others are “Licenced” but still free to use. Make sure you read the licence carefully before using the photo.

4. PikWizard

PikWizar has a beautiful library of over 1 million stock images and videos. The pictures are beautiful and excellent quality, with a great combination of topics and themes. They also offer a free photo editor, which makes it easy to custom your images before downloading them.

Licence: PikWizard offers “royalty free and safe for commercial use, with no attribution required”(as per their homepage), but make sure to read the permission use of each photo as some of them are Editorial Use only – which cannot be used commercially.

PikWizard Free Stock photos website

5. FOCA

Created by photographer Jeffrey Betts, FOCA offers a beautiful collection of mainly nature, landscapes and workspaces, the images are clean and simple (just how we like them!) and the aesthetics are delightful. FOCA also has videos and templates for Social Media images which you can customize online with a free editor. 

Licence: FOCA provides free CC0 photography for personal and commercial use on websites, projects, themes, apps, and more.

FOCA free stock images website

6. Styled Stock

Style Stock has a gorgeous selection of feminine styled images for women entrepreneurs. Although not all images are free, the premium (paid ones) are quite affordable.  

Licence: You are allowed to use their images for any commercial or non-commercial purposes. However, the images copyright is still the property of its author.

Styled Stock stock photos website

7. LibreShot

LibreShot is a beautiful collection of photos from Martin Vorel – SEO Consultant and photographer. He created this site to share his life-long love of photography. The collection includes a variety of topics and themes, from animals and people to architecture, nature and more.

License: All photos are free for private and commercial use and bound to Creative Commons Deed CC0, attribution is not required but it’s appreciated.

LibreShot stock images website

Final thoughts

We’d like to mention that there is a common discussion about how effective and “authentic” an image must look in your brand, and like anything, we believe that there is no one right answer in terms of what must be used in terms of design and artistic interpretation. The key is to study the project and brand carefully and know how to choose a meaningful image to enhance your message, being this one a stock image or a professional or self-taken one.

The most important things to remember are:
1. to make sure you are aware of the licensing and restrictions of the resources, and
2. to acknowledge the artist behind the camera when you can.

Thanks for stopping by, we hope this list gives you a few new ideas and sources for your website and branding images. If you have any questions or need help with your website and brand get in touch with us..