Here’s my short list of stock imagery websites that I have used myself and vetted for the cheesiness factor, from free to very reasonable. There are iStock.com and Bigstock.com which are OK, you can find some decent royalty-free images on these sites. But if you’re looking beyond the conventional stock imagery, these resources are worth checking out.
Most, if not all, of these stock imagery resources, have high-resolution photos for print that can be scaled and optimized for online use. Most of these websites include a search feature as well as broad categories to search under, such as Food, Nature, Business, Travel, Health, etc. Sometimes it can be hit or miss but nobody said finding the right image would be instantaneous. That’s why we love our interns.
Unsplash: One of my favorite websites for free beautiful stock imagery. Great for mood boards, blog and social media posts even print pieces.
Pixabay: Second runner-up although my searches for the right image can be hit or miss. Wide range photos, illustrations, vector graphics and now video shorts! All free.
Death to Stock: Originally this was free but now it’s subscription-based with monthly membership fees starting at $12/month. There is a 14-day trial to try them out. You can have a free membership where a sampling of their media is sent to you every month via email. A premium membership allows for full access to their media library, from high-resolution photos to video. The best thing they have going is if you want fresh imagery not found anywhere else, this is the spot. (You’ll start to run across some of the same photos across stock photo websites if you’ve been at this for a while).
This one just hit my radar: Onepixel. One USD dollar per photo. No subscription, no credits. A healthy range of subject matter to cover just about any topic, emotion, age, business. And OMG, there is diversity here, too.
And speaking of diversity: Check out TONL. Finally, you can find stock imagery that reflects the true narrative of our world! No subscription necessary. You can purchase a photo a la carte for 20 bucks. TONL has tiered pricing subscriptions available, too.
Looking for vector graphics? My go-to “starting point” for free vector images is Vecteezy. The name rhythms with cheesy and you will find a lot of that here. However, when there is no time or budget for creating an original illustration, I use this website to find an image as a starting point to build from. I rarely, if ever use a graphic I’ve downloaded from Vecteezy without customizing it into a form that’s best suited for a project. iStock Photo and Big Stock both have a decent collection of vector graphics and illustrations to choose from, too.
ENDNOTES: Kristin Maija Peterson is an art director and designer whose experience has made her into a well-rounded creative resource for her clients and colleagues.