I've previously talked about where to find free images, and the importance of images in all of your marketing and social media efforts. That was two years ago, can you believe it? Pictures and visuals are so important in whatever media you're doing, but these days there's no excuse for not having GOOD images. (If you're still not convinced by the importance of visuals, Buffer have put together an infographic on why visuals are important and how to use them).
There are so many really great resources out there that allow you to use their images with or without accreditation. So now the problem is which ones to use! Below are my favourites that I use regularly in my role as picture girl!
Pexels is nice an easy to search and the photos are all licensed under the creative commons Zero (cc0) which means the images are completely free to be used for any legal purpose and no attribution is required.
Life of Pix has a great range of photos of people, landscapes and cities. There is also no copyright restrictions so all of the images can be used for personal or commercial use.
Nilson Lee Cupcake images are all CCO so free to use but there is no search functionality so you'll have to scroll (but all of the photos are quite lovely so it's a nice way to spend a couple of minutes). You can also buy inexpensive photos from Lee if you want something a bit more unique.
If you're in need of food related photos this is the place to go. There's quite a lot of ads so be careful you don't click on the wrong thing but all of the images are free to use so mustn't grumble :) . FoodiesFeed also mentions that while not necessary, attribution is much appreciated if you're feeling generous.
Gratisography have some really nice and unusual images. Uploaded weekly, make sure to check the website regularly and download your favourites for future use. Splitshire is also really similar and provides really nice photos.
Unsplash are great for landscape and dreamy portrait photos. Sign up to their website and they will email you weekly with new photos. Unsplash doesn't have a search functionality on their site so it is a bit more difficult to find particular images you might be searching for, but they are really great quality and you don't have to give accreditation.
All photos on StockSnap are available free of use to be modified, edited etc. all without asking permission!
You can search Picjumbo by category or get the latest photos emailed to you. All free for commercial and personal works.
All of the images are available under creative commons public domain. Sadly Nic who created the site passed away suddenly and the site is no longer updated. There are still some really beautiful images on there for you to download and you can also make a donation for hand on heart charity in Nic's memory.
I love the vintage photos you can find on New old stock. There is a great selection of classic photos from the public archives, free of known copyright restrictions.
Death to the stock photo will send you images straight to your inbox every month. They're really useful lifestyle shots and again are really great quality.
SplitShire has a huge library of free beautiful and unique images available to download. From food to technology, you'd be hard pressed not to find something that caters to your needs.
You want more???
- Canva is amazingly useful! Not only will it provide you with the right aspect ratio for social media, it will also provide you with templates!
- Pablo was created by Buffer and is a really easy to create social images with text over the top.
- Superfamous is really useful if you're looking for textures or landscapes - images are available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.
- There are also some free images available from We Function.
- Hubspot often give away lots of free photo groups and templates which are useful for business use.
- Flickr - If you search Flickr for images within a Creative Commons-licence (go into advanced search on Flickr and tick the appropriate boxes below dependant on your needs) you can find a broad range of pictures you can use if you're happy to give accreditation.
- Compfight, Can we image or PhotoPin are also a kind of visual search engine which will allow you to search Flickr and images under creative commons like Wikipedia for images that you can use.
Sometimes you can never quite find what you're looking for and will need to pay up. That doesn't mean it has to cost a fortune. There are a range of sites out there that will change a different amount to licence a photo.
- iStock photos are not too bad (there are quite a few cheesy american women eating salad type photos). They now regularly release free images for commercial and editorial purposes.
- Like iStock, Shutterstock provides a free image and vector a week (go to the homepage and scroll down and it should be near the bottom of the page) and will have a broad range of images you can purchase.
For Shutterstock and iStock you will need to create a free account to be able to download the images.
- Adobe stock
If you are looking for something really specific, there are some really great professional and amateur photographers out there that won't cost the earth. We've previously used Barbara from First Avenue Photography who did a good job making the monkeys look almost normal and Tim Fok is another photographer and videographer whose work we really like.