In my line of work (designing, blogging, art journaling, scrapbooking…) I am constantly using images– photographs, vectors, patterns… While I try my absolute hardest to use images I create myself, photographs are often times the hardest to “create from scratch,” since the ideas my clients (and let’s be real, myself!) have are often very specific and hard to replicate without a huge studio session or a trip to Europe. To solve those issues, I sometimes turn to “stock” photos.
What is stock photography?
Stock photography is the supply of photographs, which are often licensed for specific uses. It is used to fulfill the needs of creative assignments instead of hiring a photographer, often for a lower cost. Today,stock images can be presented in searchable online databases. They can be purchased and delivered online.
There are a ton of stock photography websites hanging around the web, but they are not all created equally. I’ve complied a list of my favorite sites (with both free and paid options!) to grab images when I need them.
Just a caution, not all stock photography has the same licensing–just because you purchase or download a photo does not give you the right to use it for everything. Be sure to read the fine print in the licensing for the photographs you download– or for more information on how you can use different licenses, check out the Creative Commons site.
I love Creative Market. They are my new favorite resource for vectors, fonts, and photos. They have 6 free downloads every week, and quiet often, at least one is a photo pack or photo preset. They have a great search function, and you can buy things “one off” or buy credits. Every month or so, they also offer bundles that are $40 or less, and they often have several photo packs in there as well. It’s always an awesome value!
This is one of my very favorite “stock” photo sites, from one of my very favorite (and local to me, which is even cooler!) creatives, Allie Lehman. I say “stock” because these are so much better than most stock photo sites. From their site: “…we noticed an less-than-awesome industry pattern: too many extraordinary brands, bloggers, and creatives struggled to find images that fit their vibe + tribe…. The goal? To help more brands create rich digital experiences that elevated their visual aesthetic… without shelling out wads of cash, or their sanity.” You can sign up for their monthly free photo packs or their premium option– both are amazingly wonderful. I cannot recommend the premium version enough!
I’ve only recently found Lightstock, but I’ve been really impressed with what I’ve seen. The photos are gorgeous, and beautifully curated. They are 90% Christian-faith focused, (which I have a large need for, working for a church!) but they aren’t “cheesy” church graphics. They offer a free photo and vector every week if you sign up for an account with them!
Shutterstock is my favorite “traditional” stock photo site. They have a great library of images and vectors, a great search function, and you can even add photos you like to curated “lightboxes.” They have several different purchasing options and plans, as well as two free images available on their blog every week.
Unsplash is one of my very favorite finds. All of the photos are 100% free to use under the Creative Commons license. And 100% FREE too! There are so many gorgeous pictures– I can (and do!) spend hours paging through the site. They release new photos every 10 days– you can keep checking back on the site, or sign up for their email and be notified. There’s no real way to “search” through all the gorgeous photos for something specific, but I think it’s worth scrolling through pages and pages of gorgeous photos to find something you want to use.
These are my favorite sites to use— did I leave your favorite site off the list? Is there a site I should check out? Do you use stock photography, or hate it with a passion? Leave a note in the comments with your favorite stock sites!