There's two sayings that an online small business owner will hear over and over again: “content is king” and “stick to your zone of genius”. Excellent! you say. “I have a tonne of information I want to share with my followers and customers“. And, “Fantastic, that's why I got into business, so I could share my knowledge/fabulous products with the world“.
Then it's time to start sharing on your blog or social media and you come to a screeching halt. Wait. I need photos to go with this blog post and they've got to be high quality.
There is the option to take the photos yourself, and if you're anything like me, you then realise you need great natural light so you start to rearrange your house or office. Wait, I need a reflector and some sort of backdrop. And by the time you've gotten around to taking a photo, you could have written another blog post.
Thank God for free stock photos! But ahhhh, where to find them so they don't look like free stock photos?
Can't I Just Use any Photos from the Internet?
Actually, no. Due to copyright, you can't just take a photo from Google images and use it on your website. Also, using a photo anywhere off the internet and crediting where you got it from doesn't cancel out the copyright. You could of course contact the owner of the photo and ask them permission to use it, but it's so much faster and easier to find and use photos online that are 100% free and okay for you to use on your website and social media however you like.
Using Free Stock Photos on your Blog and Social Media
Just to complicate things a little bit (sorry to do that, but I want to give you all the facts), all free photos aren't created the same. If you want photos that you can modify, use freely and distribute for any legal purpose, you want to look for websites that supply photos which have a “Creative Commons CC0” license.
Creative Commons photos can be used for commercial use, and your don't need to give any credit to the photographer or website. Having said that, photographers and free photo websites always appreciate it when you can give them a shout out for their beautiful work.
High Quality Free Stock Photos
So here we go with my list of great places you can find stock photos for your blog and social media. All the websites I've listed below have a Creative Commons License so you can use the photos as you like. You can crop them, place words or filters over them, add them to your blog posts, business cards, social media, pdfs, webinars, flyers, anything you like.
Pexels is a beautiful and an easy to navigate free photos website that's a favorite of mine. What I love about Pexels is that they choose the best free stock photos from other places and curate them in Pexels. This saves you a huge amount of time knowing that you're getting stunning images every time. The photos are quick and easy to download and I have to admit I always check out Pexels first before I go to any other free photo site.
The search feature on Pexels is my favourite as it displays the results of your search as a gallery that you can easily scroll through. Search by typing in a word in the search box, or by clicking on the menus to find which photos are popular or search by color and so on.
Life of Pix is a much smaller website than the other ones listed here, but the photos are gorgeous.
Because the photos on Life of Pix are taken by a network of photographers from one advertising agency, you get a different variety of photos than you would usually see on all the other free stock photo websites. It's a huge bonus not to have your photos looking like everyone else's in the same industry. Another awesome thing about Life of Pix is that they also have a section filled with free stock videos that you can download.
One look at the home page of Pixabay and you'll be convinced come back to it over and over again. At last count, Pixabay had over 810,000 free high quality free photos for your use. Not only does Pixabay have that huge gallery of gorgeous photos but you can also find vector images, graphic illustrations and short videos – all free for you to use! Pixabay has an easy to use search function or just scroll down the gorgeous gallery to discover what's new.
You can quickly and easily download photos from Pixabay, however if you'd like to download even larger photos, then you need to sign-up for Pixabay's newsletter. The benefits of signing up to Pixabay's newsletter means not having to type in the Captcha box every time you download, downloadable photos in their original size and an ad-free site. Otherwise, without signing up, you can still get super quick and easy downloads of decent sized photos.
Looking for something a bit more quirky? Gratisography is the place for you. With everything from a cat wearing a shirt collar and tie, to an evil looking teddy bear with fangs, you'll definitely find quirk here. Having said that, if you want ‘regular' free photos, you'll still find them in Gratisography, but you also get lots of whimsy to keep things interesting. Gratisography has a great search function and you can also look through the photos by category.
All the photos on Graisography are taken by Ryan McGuire, so you know the photos are going to be different enough not to be seen on every other blog you visit.
If you're looking for stunning, high resolutions photographs then Unsplash is for you. The quality of the photos on Unsplash are incredible with rich colors, amazing detail and beautiful texture.
The photos on Unsplash are easily searchable, but you can also click on the “Collections” on the menu at the top to browse through categories. If you're a regular user of Unsplash, there's also a “New” tab on the menu so you can just scroll through all the new photos to see what's been uploaded lately. Unsplash is definitely one of the top free photo sites that I go to first for my free photos.
PicJumbo is another huge free stock photo site. Website-owner, Viktor Hanacek owns all the photos on PicJumbo. This means that you know for sure all the photos uploaded can be used legally for any purpose as it's not a ‘free-for-all uploading site'. Some of the photos on the front page are only for paid members and not downloadable for free, but they're easily identifiable by a yellow bar on the photo that says “In Premium Collection”.
Although I prefer a gallery style search rather than page by page, PicJumbo does have a huge variety of photos. Whatever topic you're looking for PicJumbo is going to have a picture for you. By the way, when you do a search, make sure that you choose the search box at the very top right hand side of the page. Sometimes there's another search box at the top centre of the page which is actually a paid ad for another site which can be confusing.
If you scroll to the bottom of the page on PicJumbo, there is a link for “Show all the latest images” to make it easy to view what's new.
KaboomPics is a boutique-style free high quality photo site. This site has a small selection of photos compared to others, but they make up for it with incredible quality and detail in every image. Web designer, Karolina takes all the photos you see on KaboomPics, so you know the photos are different to what you see everywhere else online.
As with most photo sites, you can search Kaboom Pics with a keyword in the search bar or use the categories to browse through photos. What I love best about KaboomPics is the way their photos are tagged. If you want a photo with some space to add text, just do a search on “copy space”. This gives you a whole lot of photos that allow for adding text within the photo.
BossFight gives you new free high resolution photos daily. The photos are searchable but a little difficult to find the search button. To search, click on the little magnifying glass icon on the left of your screen. Alternatively, BossFight also organise their photos by categories. This makes it easy to click on “nature” or “people” to find a common theme. I found the photos on BossFight to be fabulously crisp with lots of clear details. And there were plenty of photos with the main image to the side to give you space for text.
If you'd rather have your images emailed to you, then you can sign up for BossFight's email newsletter. Once a week you get a downloadable zip file of every new set of images delivered straight to your inbox.
So there's my list of 8 awesome websites to find free high quality stock photos. While there are hundreds of sites with free photos, it's easy to fall down the rabbit hole searching through them all. Then there's also the issue of checking to see which ones have a Creative Commons Licence. The websites I chose to list here are ones that I've found to be worth your time to look through. I hope you enjoyed them!