As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. So adding relevant and high-quality images to your website, blog or social media can transform your engagement. Not only will an attractive image keep readers on your page for longer, but using them across your social channels to cut through the noise and attract the eye of those scrolling their timeline will drive more traffic towards your website.
Using images has always been one of the key aspects of digital design, however, you might think that to use high-quality images will require paying high sums for the rights. This is no longer the case and there are many websites out there that give you access to incredible stock photos for use on your website and digital platforms. The days of stock photos being cliché shots of someone working on a computer or in a meeting are long gone and thanks to the kindness of thousands of photographers, you can take advantage of hundreds of thousands of truly stunning images for free.
Many of these images require no attributing, meaning that you can use them as you like across your marketing needs. There are a lot of stock photo websites out there to choose from, so you can almost always find the perfect picture for your needs. The only limitations you will find is if you are looking for photos of identifiable people or products that have been trademarks.
To help you find the best images possible, we have taken a look at three of the top free stock photo websites, looking at the pros and cons of each one.
Pexels is a very popular website and it allows anyone to upload and share their images. The website then picks the most popular ones to feature on its homepage and in key links. It is a very useful site and it lets you browse through all of the available images by a range of different themes and locations – there’s even an option to search for an image based on an emotion or hobby.
Another popular aspect of Pexels is the fact that it offers a wide range of original and quite often very creative images; meaning you will be able to enjoy unique pictures not found elsewhere. They are also one of the only stock photo websites which provide high-quality images of space – with some images coming from NASA!
In addition to static images, Pexels has also introduced a free stock video service allowing you to download and use a range of short clips for your social media or marketing needs.
Given that the website is completely free to use and there are no restrictions on the number of images you can download and use, there are not many negatives. Occasionally you might not be able to find the image that you want, however, if you are willing to adapt your search slightly then you will have no trouble finding a similar picture.
It is also important to know that nearly all of the images that Pexels provides are licenced under the Creative Commons Public Domain dedication. This means you can copy, modify, distribute and use them for personal and commercial use. Occasionally though you might find a few images that have been limited for use by the photographer so it is always best to double-check this.
With over 1.7 million high-quality images and videos, you will almost certainly be able to find a suitable image on Pixabay. As one of the biggest free stock photo websites in existence, Pixabay images cover every possible theme and style imaginable but it is their stunning landscape photography that it excels at.
With such a huge quantity of images available, it is a little more common to come across the occasional low quality or poorly shot image on Pixabay – however, this is rare and the vast majority are incredible, professionally shot photographs. One point of note is to make sure that you enable the Safe Search feature if you are at work or with children, as the site does also offer a small range of slightly more explicit images as well.
Alongside offering images and video, Pixabay is quite unique in the fact that it also provides its users with the option to choose from illustrations and vector graphics, helping you to make your content even more attractive.
As it is with Pexels, all the images that are on Pixabay are also licenced under the Creative Commons dedication and can be used for all of your personal and commercial requirements.
Unsplash is probably the most well-known and most frequently used free stock photo website on the internet. It hosts a huge collection of beautifully taken images that have been uploaded by professional photographers.
Although there are less images than on some other sites, such as Pixabay for example, the quality of the images that you can find on Unsplash are usually far higher and much more consistent.
It is also very easy to browse the collection of images on Unsplash, with the website having an easy to use search bar that lets you quickly search for set terms or themes. One unique aspect of the site is the range of Collections, which are basically groups of photos of similar themes and styles, which have been created by other Unsplash users. This is a particularly useful tool if you are looking for inspiration or perhaps need a range of similar images to use in a project.
A particularly useful tool that Unsplash offers its users is its mobile app, which allows you to download and use images whilst on the go. As with the other two stock photo websites, every image that you use from Unsplash is suitable for commercial and personal use and you do not need to credit the photographer – however, Unsplash does always remind that it is nice to and provides you with a link to credit them.
Using imagery on your website, social media and blogs can help bring your work to life and ensure that you keep your visitors engaged. When choosing your images, make sure that you select the right resolution for your needs as you will want them to be as sharp and attractive as possible.
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