If you blog, design, or create content for pretty much anything, you’re always looking for good stock photography or images. As tempting as it can be to jump on Google and do a quick search for a good image, there’s always the risk that you’ll use someone copyrighted work, get caught, and have to pay the price. It’s always a better idea to find a royalty-free stock image (free or paid) that you can rest easy knowing you’re allowed to use. (It’s definitely worthwhile to read up on Creative Commons for more about finding and using available images.) Here’s a list of some sites that I frequently use to find great stock images. There are many more, but these are my favorites:
Lightstock is mostly paid images and video, but they do a free photo of the week and video of the month for their email subscribers. Account creation is free and there’s no subscription. You simply buy credits and exchange them for images in varying sizes/resolutions depending on your need. Lightstock also has tons of great content geared specifically for churches and ministry use. They are by far my favorite source.
FreeImages.com (formerly StockExchange or sxc.hu) has TONS of free images. You have to really do some sifting to get through the stuff you don’t want to find what you do, but if you’re looking for low cost, this is the way to go. They also have premium images.
New Old Stock has a lot of vintage and retro graphics that have been converted to digital and retouched…some cool finds on here. Probably not a ton of use unless you do a lot with this kind of stuff, but it’s a fun site to look around for inspiration or ideas, or just for a cool way to kill time.
Unsplash is awesome. They do 10 free high-resolution images every ten days. Although it requires browsing since there’s no search feature, there’s a lot of great material to pick from.
Death to the Stock Photo is an email subscription site that sends stock images out to the members of their list every month. There’s a free account, and you can upgrade to “premium” for $10/month which gives access to their entire library on demand.
Jay Mantri‘s site is full of amazing photography, and he gives you free license to do whatever you want with his work under Creative Commons. For sure, this site is worth a look.
iStock is a go-to for many designers. It’s owned by Getty Images, and if you do anything with photography or design even semi-professionally, you’ve crossed paths with them at some point. Lots of good stuff, but lots of browsing and scanning required to find the right image. They’re also the most pricey of any of the sites on this list. Still, they’re good, and worth having on your list.
A friend just recently told me about SplitShire, and while I haven’t done a ton of looking around, from the little bit of looking I have done I can see that their work is high quality. I’ve found a couple of great images that I’ve already used in some design, and I can’t wait to dig in further to their archives. And again, you can’t beat free.
If you know of a great place to find stock photography or images, please share it in the comments below….I’m always looking for more resources!