Look, people. Creating killer web content is not all sunshine and lollipops. That’s a common misconception, actually. That this job is somehow an easy one. To be honest, it gets a little annoying. People assume that my job, and the job of so many others, must be some kind of total breeze. In some ways… maybe it is. In others, though: absolutely not.
One major buzzkill is finding great stock photography; finding free photographs that strengthen our publication, rather than weaken it.
The last few years have seen something of a “boom” in terms of great resources and websites for much better stock photography. Consistent, creative, and unique options continue to emerge and make my life ever-so-slightly easier.
Compared to the rest, the follow 13 stock photography sites are truly shining stars.
13 Best Stock Photo Sites To Try Right Now
EyeEm is, far and away, my favorite of these websites. I think that it is objectively “the best” as well. I can say with total confidence that it is my main provider of high-quality stock photos, and I do not see that changing anytime soon…
Look, if you are into high-res, creative, unique, photos for your content, completely free of charge, look no further than EyeEm. I believe this is the case, as do all of my most respect peers who work in the profession. I love the slick layout, how user-friendly it is. Most of all, I am into the quality of the photos, themselves.
I look at other stock photography websites, and they simply do not compare with what EyeEm is offering in most regards; unless you are looking for a very specific niche. In that case, keep on looking down the list. Though it is true that sometimes I end up using another site because EyeEm does not have what I am looking for, in general, I go here first and I usually do not have to look any further.
Gratisography is a diamond in the rough among its competition in the stock photography game. It is Ryan McGuire’s masterpiece, as far as I am concerned. I end up here fairly often, and I am always pleased by what this website has to offer; the collection is pretty top notch, and the website itself is slick and smooth.
The images are organized into categories that are divided material and immaterial themes: such as Objects, People, Animals, Nature, Urban, and Whimsical. Plus, the catalogue is updated every week.
Jeffrey Betts’ brainchild, MMT, is a solid stock photography option. Though it is the first on this list that sort of fits into the “niche” category rather than offering a truly broad range.
In my experience, MMT is best in two very specific categories. The first is “office culture”, which a lot of online content is geared toward, in one way or another. The photos of typical workplace symbols for that particular scene are great on MMT. Another, far more broad and less specific, would be flowers, plants, & nature.
StockSnap is the first site that I will recommend if you feel like searching through a database of photographs that is very sizable.
Luckily, you don’t have to sift through, though, as you can search by Keyword, which makes the vast collection significantly more approachable.
It is definitely one of the more impressive sites out there in terms of quantity. However, that does not mean the quality of the photos is negatively impacted; at least in this case. I really like this site, and have found some amazing stock photos here in the past. Simple concept. Good delivery. I’m into it.
Every ten days, ten more photos are added to Unsplash. Compared to sites that add daily, obviously, the quantity is going to be a lot lower with this type of mandate of operation.
However, the quality of the website does not suffer, as the photos they add are quite effective. Images are sorted into many different thematic “collections”, which have titles that range from “Weddings” to “Life’s A Party” to “Travel” with many stops between each. You can also click “New” to see what has been added since your last visit.
Sure, the collection isn’t huge, but it’s not lacking in any way, either.
Negative Space is not one of the first places I go, but that could be my own subjectivity speaking.
You can explore by narrowing your search to be within one of the 14 categories that has been arranged, or by choosing one of the tech-based collections. Within this system of organization, the site comprehensively covers all you might need.
No frills, no gimmicks. That is what a website with a name like “Freestocks” ought to offer, and this one nails that.
There are free stock photos here, and, more than that, the collection is substantial and full of high-res, good quality options. Photos are divided into the categories of: Animals, City & Architecture, Fashion, Food & Drinks, Nature, Objects & Technology, and People. You can also navigate the site by using #keywords.
Dave Meier’s Picography cannot be overlooked.
It is not quite the best, but it is closer to being “the best” than it is to being “the worst” by a thousand miles. A skilled team of photographers and collectors have made Picography a valuable resource. You can search for your photo with keywords or by browsing through very specific collections.
Truly, this is the most hipster-esque stock photography option that I have found. But, to be honest… I kind of dig it.
Rather than a large collection to sift through, Death to Stock actually sends you 10 carefully selected images on a monthly basis, right to your email inbox.
If you decide to pay the piper for a premium membership, you are given access to their entire collection. Based on their monthly offerings, I would say that membership might just be worth the price of purchase.
11. New Old Stock
Another “niche” site that is absolutely perfect for some creators/articles, and absolutely useless for others. The general theme is “vintage” and it offers a lot of very cool, old-school antiquated photos.
The photo packs on New Old Stock are filled with black & white and sepia tone images. These are high-quality photos, but they are definitely not the most versatile.
Refe is filled with stunning photos. When I learned that they were all taken with mobile phones, I was even more flabbergasted.
Kudos to this site and the minimalistic creativity of its contributors. Not all the photos are free of charge, but you can search specifically through the free ones, or take a gander through the nine categories that they have laid out.
There is nothing wrong with Kaboompics, and if you are in a jam, the photo you are looking for could very well be hosted here!
Browse by category or through their “super search engine” which is quite comprehensive in comparison to others. They offer a wide variety of photos in many sizes. Options like “newest”, “oldest”, “most downloaded”, “least downloaded” and “featured” allow for an easy, customized search.
With websites like these offering premium photos in creative ways, stock photography’s negative stigma can be laid to rest.
Though it may be true, the majority of stock photography sites are still quite mediocre in one way or another, inventive and authentic sources of free photos continue to emerge and thrive at an unprecedented rate.
Whether you are looking for a specific “niche”, or prefer to have a source that allows you to access a broad range of themes and categories, your solution can surely be found on this list.
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