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Our Solution to One of the Biggest Challenges Designers Face

June 2016

What do you think is one of the biggest challenges designers, or all creatives for that matter, face? Here’s a hint, it doesn’t have to do with colors, layout or even typography.

No, in reality, a serious day-to-day struggle for any creative is finding good stock photography to use for their website, email template, you name it.

While we all would like to populate a website with customized visuals, oftentimes this is simply not feasible. However, the good news is if you know where to look, there are a lot of good stock photography options out there. And lucky for you, we know some of the best places to look!

Here are our favorite five (and totally free!) photography websites that the Element5 design team uses on a daily basis.

Our Top 5 Go-To Sites For Free Stock Photography

1. Unsplash

The Scoop: Unsplash is our #1 go to because they have some of the best quality photos that cover a wide variety of subjects. However, their pictures tend to be more abstract than visuals from other sites.

Copyright: You can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free.

How Many:  The size of the library is unknown, but 10 new photos are added every 10 days. 

Check it out:


2. Pexels

The Scoop: Not only does this site have a wide range of photos, their tech, and business photos are killer.

Copyright: You can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free.

How Many: Over 10,000 beautiful and clean photos

Check it out:


3. Pixabay

Pixabay is by far the most versatile site. If you are looking for a niche subject, like yarn, you are far more likely to find it here.

Copyright: You can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, without attribution.

How Many: Over half a million photos.

Check it out:

4. Photopin

If you can’t find what you are looking for on Pixabay, try Photopin. They too have a diverse selection of photos that will surely fulfill your visual needs. Photopin is actually an advanced Flickr search that only pulls photos with the Creative Commons license set to allow others to use the images.

Copyright: The photos are free via Creative Commons licenses–check out each photo’s licensing agreement as some are not available for commercial use.

How Many: Several billion. Nearly the entire Flickr library is available. 

Check it out:

5. Negative Space

You’ll find that Negative space has a lot in common Unsplash and Pexels. While they don’t have as large a selection as the other two sites, you will find photos on their site that you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else. If you’re trying to find that one, perfect image, this is a good to start.

Copyright: You can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free without attribution.

How Many: The have roughly 500 awesome photos.

Check it out:

Other Cool Sites Worth Checking Out

Death to the Stock Photo:

This is a subscription-based resource where they send you a monthly photo pack that is usually themed. For example, this past month was called “ride or die” featuring pictures of motorcycle rides by various photographers. The nature of these photos is to stray as far away from the typical, cheesy stock photo look and produce something that looks much more natural. Hence, the name, Death to the Stock Photo.

Of note, every photo on Death to the Stock Photo is subject to the Photograph End User License. The official license is legally binding, and you should read it before using their images as it has several details that could affect your usage. Here is a link to their “Plain English license”.

Deal Jumbo:

This site features a ton of graphics, photos, textures and other resources for designers. Every week, they add freebies. We’ve provided you with the link to the page that shows you all their free photos. Pretty sweet don’t you think?

StockPhoto has over 27,000 images with many categories and filters that will help you search for exactly what you need.

Now that you are armed with some awesome stock photos, perhaps it’s time to update your social media profiles. Learn more about the important role the cover photo plays in your social media marketing strategy here.

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