While we’ve all been taught since childhood that you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, that is exactly what we as humans do. This is especially true with websites. In regards to web design, nearly two-thirds of people would rather read beautifully designed content instead of something expressed plainly. This not only includes the layout and overall design of your site, but also the images used. Just one reason why stock photos are a great asset to small businesses.
Unless your a photographer or have a photographer on staff, chances are you use some stock photos to fill out your digital assets. Stock images have a bad reputation for being cookie cutter and dull. While that can be true, with the growth of digital photography, the Internet, and social media, there are many more high-quality stock photos available. The best stock photos give your site a professional and put-together edge that will add to your company’s brand and reputation, while being more appealing to website visitors. And you can get many stock photos for free. You can find dozens of free stock photo sites with a simple Google search, but DCDS has complied what we believe to be the best stock photo websites.
Pexels is the first site DCDS uses when looking for relevant free stock photos. The stock images are very high quality and are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, which is one of several license where the author or creator allows free distribution and use of their material. With Pexels it is also super easy to search for the content you’re looking for.
To demonstrate all these sites, we’ve typed in a relevant topic to show what search results come up. For comparison we’ve typed in “laptop” for everyone. You can see below the search results for that phrase in Pexels.
Another one of our first stock image sites, Pixabay has tons of free stock photos as well as art illustrations and icons. Again, all photos are under Creative Commons so any users has free rein. Pixabay is known for having some of the best stock photos on the Internet and you see them frequently with WordPress users.
Below, we have some of the search results for “laptop” on Pixabay. It is important to note that there is sometimes a bit of overlap with the image results on these sites (most are under Creative Commons after all), but in general you are going to get a variety of different images on different sites. Therefore, it’s definitely worth checking out more than one to find your perfect stock photo.
StockSnap.io is one of the newer sites DCDS has been using. There are tons of free stock photos, and hundreds are added every day, meaning that you can always find new and interest images to use on your website or with your inbound marketing efforts. StockSnap also tracks which photos are viewed and downloaded the most, given them a list of the most popular stock images (which you might want to use or stay away from, given your goals).
Again, we have the results for “laptop” on StockSnap. While it is a bit annoyed that the first results shown are sponsored from Shutterstock (where photos are NOT free), once you scroll past you get a bunch of the best stock photos.
We hadn’t heard of this site until recently but DCDS is so excited to have found it. Reshot is another visual library with tons of free stock images, but these aren’t your normal stock photos. Reshot’s photos are handpicked and you don’t see them on any other sites, great for when you keep finding the same images over and over again.
Below is a taste for what the Reshot site looks like. After search “laptop”, you do get images with laptops but they seem more personal and modern than the plain flatlays you get on other sites. Perfect for making your website stand out from the crowd.
Unsplash has a wide array of high-resolution stock photos and is known as one of the best free stock image resources. You can search for specific images or browse through collections, such as Wildlife or People & Portraits. All of the best images on Unsplash get featured on their homepage and all photo are released for free under the Unsplash license.
Below are the results for “laptop” in Unsplash. There are a few repeats from Pexels and Pixabay, but the layout of the images is very visually appealing and there are also some great, unique photos in the mix.
Burst is a free stock photo library that’s powered by Shopify. The photos available are licensed either through Creative Commons or by Shopify itself, designed to be used by small businesses and entrepreneurs. Many of the photos on Burst are pretty specific but they do have some general stock photography as well (good if you have a very specific product!)
Since Burst is more for specific niches of images, when you type in “laptop” there aren’t as many results as on some other sites. However, most of the images are pretty different and we love how they used a black background to to differentiate themselves as a website.
Picography is another bank of high quality stock photos, all submitted by a variety of professional photographers. Again, all photos are under Creative Commons so they are available for commercial and personal use.
Picography is a smaller site so there are fewer results for the search “laptop”. However, they are mostly different than the mass market stock photos, so you’ll probably get a more unique stock image than your competitors.
Another great photo resource is Picjumbo, which is just a collection of images that are completely free for both commercial and personal use. They have tons of different categories and have a section showing you their latest uploads, making sure your business is one of the first to use them.
The search mechanism on Picjumbo is a bit different. Instead of showing you a grid of all the images, it pulls them up one by one in a single column. This makes it harder to show you what the results page looks like, but it is also beneficial because it allows the viewer to see how high resolution the image is without clicking on it.
MMT Stock is a smaller site but still a great one for some of the best stock photography. All of the stock photos on the site were taken by Jeffrey Betts and they are all released under Creative Commons.
Again, this is a smaller site so there aren’t as many search results for “laptop”. However, working in our favor is the fact that Betts has a lot of computer and workspace photos, perfect for a growing business.
Last but not least is Kaboom Pics, which has amazing stock photography of any subject you can think of. Karolina Grabowska is the founder of Kaboom Pics and is the creator of all the images on it, a majority of which are indoor. Note that all the photos can be used commercially but you can’t sell them.
When you type in “laptop” into the search function, there are two fun aspects to the Kaboom website. First, the website flows nicely and is very responsive (we’re just obsessed with web design!). Second, when you select a stock image, the photo pops up along with a color palette showing you the six dominant colors in the image and their hex color number. This allows you to help color coordinator aspects of your business or marketing materials around certain images that you love.
Unless you or someone on your team is a professional photographer, it can seem impossible to have high-quality, unique photos for your website or inbound marketing materials. But the realm of stock photography has exploded and now it is easy to access beautiful stock photography that speaks to your company’s brand and personality. We don’t advocate that you should only use stock photos. However, in the visual world we live in, having multiple visuals assets tends to be more appealing to viewers. Just look at this statistic from HubSpot:
When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later.
So while you shouldn’t go crazy with stock images, make sure that where your visual assets are lacking you use the best stock photos you can find.
At DC Dev Shop, we’re dedicated to making you a functional, efficient, and visually appealing website. We offer services in web design, web development, and inbound marketing, helping you to brand and optimize your digital presence.