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Stock Photography Top Recommendations

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Stock Photography
The Best Stock Photo Sites
Free Stock Images
This company became one of those success is the best revenge stories. When the creator of the site was rejected for images with ``lack of quality``, he created his own free repository which has become one of the largest online today. The images you can find here are beautiful and mostly free - there are premium upgrade packages available as well.
One of the top free stock photography sites, Pexels has free stock video, time lapse videos, and photos available for use under the Creative Commons Zero license. No obligation to sign up in order to download. The option to donate to the photographer is there if you like and use their work.
Pixabay offers one of the largest selections of free stock photos, vectors, illustrations, and videos under the Creative Commons Zero license. There is no requirement to sign up and you have the option to download right from the image you like. The request is that if you like the image you should buy the photographer a cup of coffee, so the option to donate is there.
One of the larger photo repository sites, Unsplash offers wallpapers and texture photos along with a huge variety of high resolution images provided gratis from professional photographers.
Gratisography is completely free of copyright restrictions and offers a quirky photo collection of high resolution images.
Reshot has unique and beautiful professional photos available for commercial or personal use with no attribution required.
RGBStock provides free photos that are uploaded by the general public - so it is more like flickr, but allowing for commercial use of the images.
Paid Stock Images
A site where you have to pay for your images, but you can pay per image (images start at $1 each with no subscription required) and they have tons of unique and original images, vectors, and illustrations to choose from. You can also choose to buy a subscription, but these start at $199/month.
Millions of quality stock images, vectors, videos and 360-degree panoramic images that you will have to pay for - and these are not cheap. This is a great backup site if you can't find what you are looking for elsewhere and want to pay premium money for an image. Also great if you are looking for celebrity images or need recent, current event photos.
Vecteezy is a vector repository site which allows free downloads of some of their vector images but does require attribution (giving the source credit). You can also choose their paid plans to remove the requirement of attribution. Vecteezy also has a free online SVG editor available for use by anyone with an account.
Pixistock sells feminine photos intended for use on a blog or feminine-styled website. They offer a few free images just for signing up on their email list, but you can also opt to buy one of their stock image bundles (starting at $14) or subscribe to a monthly membership which starts at $39/month.

Stock Photography Sites

Buying Guide and Advice

What Is Stock Photography?

Stock Photography are images licensed for a specific use.

If you have a blog or a website, chances are, you have explored the use of Stock Photography. Stock photos come in handy when you need a visual representation for something on your site but don’t have any images that are good enough to display for that subject matter.

Enter – professional (or professional looking) photographs provided for free or at a cost by sites where you can find the exact picture you need.

There are 5 main types of images you might want to use on your site: Photos, Videos,  Vectors, Animated GIFs, and Illustrations.

Click on the + button to read more about any of these terms below:


Photos are images available for digital use, and typically come in the format of .jpg or .png extensions. If you are using a .png photo, this may have a layer of transparency included, also known as an alpha channel. What this will allow is an image to be placed anywhere on the site without a background for the image, so the transparency will take on the appearance of the background the image is placed within.


Videos are movies created for use on websites or video sites such as YouTube or Vimeo. Videos are typically in .mp4 or .mov formats.


As defined by Wikipedia: Vectors are computer graphic images that are defined in terms of 2D points, which are connected by lines and curves to form polygons and other shapes. Each of these points has a definite position on the x- and y-axis of the work plane and determines the direction of the path; further, each path may have various properties including values for stroke color, shape, curve, thickness, and fill.


Animated GIFs:

A bitmap image that has the ability to move and be animated.


Commonly in vector format but sometimes in what is known as Raster format, illustrations are usually referring to hand-drawn (digital) images.

Why Good Stock Photography Is Important For Your Business

While a bit cliche, it is true that images are worth, well frankly, even more than 1000 words. The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text. And, good images make the difference between a website that screams “amateur” and a site that looks beautiful and professional.

A few reasons why you should consider using Stock Photography:

You Humbly Admit Your Photography is NOT Professional Enough – No one is good at everything, so if you are trying to do most things on your website yourself but fail at becoming the next Ansil Adams, don’t despair. Thankfully, there are enough photographers out there who willingly want to supply photos for free or at a minimal cost so that those of us who are not photographically inclined can pull from their artistic talents.

The Law – Hellooo?Using photos you randomly found on the internet isn’t just bad taste, it’s downright illegal. When the internet was baby-fresh and no one knew how to regulate or monitor what people downloaded, used, stole, distributed from various online sources it was pandemonium (for those of us who remember and maybe used sites like Napster :)), until the law stepped in and started to crack down on infringement rights. Nowadays there are penalties in place for people who randomly grab other people’s copyrighted material.

You Want to Set Your Site Apart – The down side to any of the free stock photography sources is that these are the photos that are used by almost anyone else. However, you probably won’t see any of these free images on popular, successful sites because their design teams make sure they are paying for quality and unique images.

You Need Specific Images – If you actually need specific images of something – like a horse eating a carrot – you probably aren’t going to find this on a free stock image site. You will find horses, and you will find carrots, but to get the horse eating a carrot that will most likely require using a pay-for stock site.

Search Engines are Now Visual – Search engines today, specifically Pinterest (and Google & Bing), have a visual component within their search engine. This means they use an algorithm to determine what the images on your site convey, or the images on your pin. When you have images that are exact matches to 300,000 other images this can detract from your uniqueness factor. Take for example, this visual search below on a free stock image for a Christmas Gift (I happened to use this one as well). You can see that your pin won’t be unique since it visually matches so many other pins.

Same image found on Pinterest

What To Look For In Choosing Stock Photography

  • Style Matching. Do the pictures blend in with the message you are trying to convey on your website? If you have a very feminine site, don’t subscribe to a stock image gallery that doesn’t have a lot of floral and light colored images.
  • Quality & Size. Make sure the size of the photo will closely match the frame you are putting it into on your site. Also make sure the quality is good enough that it doesn’t look fuzzy. You should always try to get a picture a little larger than your frame so that it doesn’t lose any integrity when you add it to your page.
  • Attribution and Licensing. Make sure you are following any rules or copyright requirements dictated by the site you are using. Some sites will also specify the exact purpose that you are allowed to use the image for, i.e., personal use vs. website/commercial use.

Stock Photography Common Terms & Definitions

You might hear some of these terms used regarding digital photography:

Term Definition
Attribution The requirement for using the image that source credit is given to the photographer.
Commercial Use Using an image for use to sell a product or service.
Copyright The owner of the rights to the photo, video, or image.
Creative Commons Zero

Work that has been dedicated to the public domain – the author has waived all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.

You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.

DPI Dots Per Inch
Editorial An image of a celebrity or place which might have specific usage requirements.
Extended License A license that goes beyond the typical use of an image and can include using the image on packaging or resell items.
GIF Graphics Interchange Format (photos which can be animated)
JPG Joint Photographic Experts Group (the group who created the standard)
PNG Portable Network Graphics
PPI Pixels Per Inch
Resolution Resolution is the quality of the image measured in DPI, typically either 72 or 300.
Rights Managed License The most restrictive of all licenses, these images will typically require very specific allowable usage which can include where the images can be used and the size that it can be used in.
Royalty Free License Once you purchase these images, you are free to use them. However, there are still restrictions on how you can use these images, so make sure you are abiding by the terms and conditions outlined in the license.

Tips To Get the Most From Your Photos

✔️ Pay for unique images in your niche. You can get great photos that everyone else can find and probably uses for free on any of the sites that we have listed. If you’re going to pay for images, pay for ones that are unique and specific to what you need them for. If you have a car website, make sure the site you buy from has the images of the cars you sell and ones that you might not see on other similar car sites.

✔️ Check attribution and legal rights. Sites have different requirements for attribution – some just request that you mention them somewhere on your site or give credit to the photographer, while others are completely royalty and attribution free. Even if you are paying for photos, make sure you check what you are able to do with these and that it goes along with how you plan on using the images. For example, you are probably not legally able to resell images you have purchased unless you have purchased images for resell purposes.

✔️ Don’t underestimate your own talents. People love to see real-life images of things you’ve done, especially when it comes to a blog site or an about page where you want to connect with readers on a personal level. While professional photos are attractive and enticing, you don’t have to use stock photos for your entire website, especially if you have some interesting photos of your own. If you just took a pie out of the oven and are planning to blog about how great it tasted, take a picture and post that bad-boy!

There are many great Stock Photo Sites that can provide you with professional & beautiful photos. We have identified our favorites at the top.
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