Stock photo sites are an incredible source of imagery for use in all sorts of online spaces including advertisements, social media campaigns, websites, and blogs and they can also come in handy for print campaigns. I found more than four dozen stock photography sites offering millions of photos, illustrations, vectors, and videos on almost every subject matter imaginable. Some of these sites charge a monthly or yearly fee, and some have restrictions on how the images can be used.
To make things simpler we’ve narrowed down the offerings to eight high-quality stock photo sites with images relevant to craft-based businesses where almost every image is free to use as you see fit.
In alphabetical order the sites are:
Burst is a free stock photo site powered by Shopify with thousands of high quality, downloadable and fully-licensed images. Their goal is “to empower designers, developers, bloggers and entrepreneurs to create stunning websites and marketing campaigns,” according to the website. All photos submitted to Burst are licensed under Creative Commons meaning you are free to adapt and use the photos including to copy, reproduce and modify them for commercial purposes without attributing the original author or source. The photo categories on Burst include : coffee, fitness, women, fashion, men, yoga, flowers, business, music, nature, baby, food, products, jewelry, city, office, dogs, computer, cat, love, sunset, beaches, backgrounds, portraits, money, textures, flatlay, fun, abstract, bike, makeup, family, colorful, holidays, startup, teamwork, shopping, people, pride. We use Burst frequently here at Craft Industry Alliance and find that there’s often a relevant, beautifully composed photo that meets our needs.
Gratisography offers “quirky, creative, always free photos.” Their licensing says you can do almost anything with the photos, except use them to promote unlawful activity. In comparison to Burst, this site offers photos that are distinctly funny and different – gorillas typing on keyboards, teddy bears with frightening fangs, a man in a suit with bright blue clown shoes…that sort of thing.
Life of Pix offers free high-resolution photos on a site run by LEEROY, a digital creative agency out of Montreal and its network of photographers. New photographs are added every week, with one featured photographer highlighted. Photos on Life of Pix fall into 13 categories: animals, architecture, beach, black & white, city, desk, food, nature, object, people, sea, textures, urban. You can also search by color or by portrait or landscape. Right now there are under 100 photos in each category, but as the archives build the site will become more and more useful.
Pexels says they have the “best free stock photos in one place.” They, too, license the photos under Creative Commons. Searchable subject matter includes jewelry, café culture, selective focus, child’s play, creative process, feeling sad, plus another 50+ category. The photos on this site tend to be more trendy and youthful with plenty of feminine, hip, and edgy choices.
Pixabay is headquartered in Germany and claims to offer over 1.4 million photos, illustrations, videos, vector graphics contributed by users all over the world. All contents are released under Creative Commons CC0, which makes them safe to use without asking for permission or giving credit to the artist, even for commercial purposes. Images can also be searched by orientation, size, color and “latest additions” to the site. Pixabay images run the gamut when it comes to style; you can truly find anything here.
Realistic Shots features exactly what their name says in the limited areas of architecture, nature, people, travel, technology. They add seven new photos per week, and the style looks a lot like the snapshots you’ve taken all of your life. The photos are licensed under Creative Commons 0 which means you can copy, modify, distribute the photos for personal and commercial use.
Stocksnap says it has beautiful free stock photos with hundreds of high-resolution images being added weekly. They offer the photos under CC0. Their four most popular searches are “high definition wallpaper, pictures of food, family pictures, design pictures” though their current most popular photo is of a chipmunk in the grass. (One word of caution, if you type in their URL, make sure you type io and not .com, as .com takes you to an adult website.)
Unsplash features “beautiful, free photos gifted by the world’s most generous community of photographers,” according to their website. They offer more than 550,000 HD photos of diverse subjects and curated collections, such as “beautiful shots from above, the color purple, expressive faces, found typography, pastel Pantone, eye candy, and powerful women” to name a few. This is a wonderful free site if you’re looking for something more artistic than an ordinary photo. Their licensing agreement ends with these unique words: “Unsplash grants you an irrevocable, non-exclusive copyright license to download, copy, modify, distribute, perform, and use photos from Unsplash for free, including for commercial purposes, without permission from or attributing the photographer or Unsplash.”
A great image can beautifully express a complex idea in just a few seconds. As the documentary photographer Elliott Erwitt once said, the whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things with words. That’s what these free stock image websites can help you to do, no matter what it is you’re publishing.