Stunning Visuals for Your Projects: Do you want to make your content instantly more appealing? Just add visuals. Statistics show that Facebook posts with images get 2.3 times more engagement than those without pictures.
But this isn’t the only perk of adding eye-catching photos to your website, blog, or social media account. Thoroughly picked pictures support your brand’s image and help the audience connect with you more. They’re also great visual aid for blog posts, landing pages, guides, and other long-form material. When people observe visuals, they better understand and memorize content.
You don’t need to hire a photographer or spend enormous budgets on creating images—you can use stock photos instead. Discover popular picture stocks and their benefits in this article.
What is a stock picture?
A stock image is created by a designer, illustrator, or photographer and then uploaded to stock websites. Although the creator retains rights to their work, these visuals can be legally used by others for commercial, personal, or editorial purposes.
Stock platforms allow users to download pictures from their extensive collections for free or after purchasing a pricing plan. The creators can receive donations from those who use their visuals, or get paid every time someone downloads their content.
Top stock sites for downloading free images
- #1 Depositphotos
Founded in 2009, the stock content platform offers a vast selection of royalty-free images. You can choose from 230+ million photos, illustrations, vectors, videos, and music files. Although the number of visuals is impressive, image search on https://depositphotos.com/ won’t become a challenge thanks to their AI-powered system and thematic categories.
There’s a collection of 70,000 free files where you can browse high-quality images and use them with attribution only. To download unwatermarked paid files, you can purchase a subscription or on-demand plan. The price for an on-demand plan depends on the number of images you’ll be downloading; the options include 3, 10, 25, or 100 images per year.
Depositphotos features content under Standard and Extended licenses. Stock images downloaded under the Standard license can be printed and used in digital material. However, a print run is limited to 500,000 copies. The Extended license allows all of that with no limitations, and you can also use content for free distribution or resale material, such as coloring books, posters, T-shirts, and many more.
- #2 Pixabay
This website offers you 2.5+ million free stock pictures, music, and videos. All of them are under Pixabay licensing, which allows using content for both personal and commercial projects. Nonetheless, the license forbids selling downloaded files without extensive modification.
The platform has special personnel responsible for reviewing all new image submissions. They check picture quality and legality, ensuring that the visuals are safe to use.
- #3 Unsplash
Unlike previous websites, this platform focuses solely on photos and currently can offer 2+ million of them. Beginner and experienced photographers worldwide upload their work to the site, making the image collection as diverse and authentic as it can be. All the photos are free to download, and if you like the creator, you can contact them directly and hire for further cooperation.
The Unsplash license allows you to download and use photos for commercial and non-commercial purposes. However, you cannot sell them without significant modification.
- #4 Pexels
Pexels features royalty-free stock images and videos. Here you can find various collections, sorted by topic, color, and type of use (backgrounds, mockups, covers, and others.) To dig deeper into photography topics, you can join one of the several challenges available on the site or read interviews with photographers.
The Pexels license allows using pictures for free without any attribution. However, images cannot be redistributed, sold to other stock platforms, or as unaltered copies (posters, prints, and other physical products) without prior modification.
- #5 StockSnap
StockSnap offers a variety of beautiful images and a handy search feature—a tag-based category system. It enables you to search for images by category, mood, sense, or feeling they convey.
You can download stock images and use them under the Creative Commons CC0 license. You can download pictures, alternate them, and use them for free in personal and commercial projects. However, it’s forbidden to imply any endorsement towards people or things depicted in images. For instance, you cannot use a photo of a person and imply that they think your brand is the best.
The benefits of using free searchable stock photos
Obviously, free stocks are free to use. However, some websites also offer pricing plans for downloading unwatermarked pictures or using content under the Extended license. But, purchasing a premium subscription will be less expensive than hiring a photographer, designer, or illustrator to create images. That’s why stock photo sites are a good option for small companies and business owners that want to save costs on visuals.
- Licensed content
If you download any random picture from the internet, you might face legal issues later. However, this won’t happen if you download images from free stock content sites. These platforms practice pre-made licensing, so any featured image is generally safe to use.
Still, always check the licensing terms of the platform you use. What is okay for one website, could be considered a copyright violation by another.
- Delivery speed
Using stock websites, you don’t need to hire photographers or digital artists to get desired images. You save time looking for the right professionals, explaining your ideas, and waiting for the visuals to be delivered.
However, if you require specific images, e.g., photos of your brand’s products, it’s better to turn to professionals instead of using stocks.
As image stocks usually offer large, high-quality pictures, it’s easy to adjust these files to your needs: crop, remove backgrounds, adapt them to your designs, and so on. It gives you a lot of flexibility in adjusting visuals to your brand.
To sum up
Stock websites are one of the best sources of images, especially if you are on a budget or need to get visuals as quickly as possible. Their main perks are high-quality content, extensive image collections, and proper licensing that helps you avoid legal issues. However, you should always check each website’s content licensing to ensure that you won’t violate any copyright laws.