Stock photos are a necessary evil of web design. In an ideal world every company would have the budget and time for custom photography and illustrations. Obviously this isn’t always possible. Stock photos can help you fill the gaps in your content. Before jumping into the resources, there’s a few things to keep in mind with stock photos.
Free vs. Premium Stock Photos
While there are a lot of free photo resources, it usually is worth the money to invest in premium photos. These photos are often of better quality, and they are used less often. This prevents your site from looking like thousands of other sites.
Avoid Cheesy Stock Photos
Do you really want to shake this guy’s hand?
Stock photos of people shaking hands or pictures of overly excited cubicle workers surrounded by white walls don’t have any real meaning. These type of photos usually come off as inauthentic, and they are definitely overused. A little brainstorming can lead you to something more original.
Do you Really Need Stock Photography?
Before plunging into the resources below, ask yourself if you really need stock photography? Has your company had professional photos taken in the past? Can you afford a professional photographer? Do you have anybody in house that has serious skill and experience behind the camera?
Before plunging into the resources below, ask yourself if you really need stock photography?
While you can find some great stock photography, often the personal touch that comes from having custom photography taken makes a website that much more friendly, personal and inviting. Custom photos give your company a chance to really connect with your customers. That said, sometimes you just need stock photos. Here’s the list.
Free Stock Photo Resources
- Every Stock Photo
- New Old Stock
- Wikimedia Commons (see restrictions below)
- Google Advanced Image Search (see restrictions below)
When using sites like Wikimedia Commons or Google Images you need to check the licenses on the photos. Many of the photos on Wikimedia Commons has very generous attribution policies, but you still need to check the photo to make sure it is ok for you to use on your site.
Using Google Images’ Advanced search filters you are able to search Google Images based on the type of license you need. To find the advanced search from Google Images, click on the gear icon at the top right of Google Images. Then select “Advanced Search” in the drop-down menu.
A slightly hidden search feature with Google Images
These advanced options give you a lot of ways to search Google Images, but the one you are looking for is titled, “Usage Rights.” Change this setting for your purposes (for example: Free to use, share, or modify, even commercially).
You should still look at the individual images to ensure that it has a license granting you permission to use it. Use common sense and attribute when appropriate. Remember that the photos you choose reflect a lot about your business, brand and values.
Remember that the photos you choose reflect a lot about your business, brand and values.
These searches can take a lot longer than you anticipate, but have fun with it. Have I left off any free or premium stock photo resources that you would recommend? I’d love to hear about it in the comments…