Everyone knows that what’s extremely important in creating a captivating blog, besides the content, are the images. Whether you’re a food blogger that drives through cities in search of the best all American drive-ins, or a lifestyle blogger that travels the world for the best destinations, you’re constantly thinking pictures, pictures, pictures.
Not only do they grab readers’ attention, but they’re often what makes them stay, as everyone loves a good image. Since taking the perfect picture isn’t always possible, you most likely turn to free stock photo sites, of which there are many. Read on about the sites out there being used by top bloggers, to make sure you’re choosing the right one for your blog or project.
Keep it Legal - Copyright-Free Options
Not all stock photos are freely available to use — known as the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license — in fact, many times they will be covered by the original photographer’s copyrights. Many of the sites that charge for their services pay a portion of the money received to the photographer to get around this barrier, but if you’re looking for pictures to use for free and want to keep yourself out of copyright trouble, you’ll need to use sites that allow for the sharing and free use of the photos.
One site in particular that offers functional and copyright-free pictures is Pexels. Started in 2015 and with a mission to “empower creators,” it has grown into a large stock photo library with pictures of landscapes, people, animals and insects, cars and more. Anybody can upload pictures that can then be used by whoever would like to, for both personal or commercial use. What’s best about Pexels, compared to other free photo sites, is that it screens each and every photo uploaded by users to ensure the highest level of quality and to minimize inappropriate pictures. The only restriction is that pictures may not be used to show the original artists in a bad light and that logos or private property be used with consent from the artists.
Another site that offers free stock photos that are 100% fine to use copyright-wise, is StockSnap. Hundreds of high resolution images are added to its site weekly, and they are all free from copyright restrictions. You can search photos by keywords, such as “book,” “happy,” or “people,” or sort photos by date taken, amount of views received, the most downloaded and the most commonly viewed.
By using one of the above sites that offer pictures under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, you can stay clear of trouble.
Niche Category Pictures
As many bloggers focus on a certain category or interest, it’s important to have a site that is catered to those picture needs. Unsplash is a top choice for bloggers looking for pictures of scenery and landscapes. It adds 10 new free pictures every 10 days, and the pictures are always breathtaking. Unsplash’s photo selection and range of scenes isn’t huge, but the pictures are beautiful — from mountain ranges to foggy rivers, you’ll be blown away by what you can find. With 10 new images to use on a regular basis, you’ll never get sick of old content.
Picjumbo is another top site used by niche bloggers. It has a clean layout, is easy to navigate, and has a large amount of photos to choose from, specifically great food shots. It’s an ideal stock photo platform to use if you’re running a foodie blog, have a nutrition-themed startup, or are looking for pictures to fill your restaurant's website with.
If you’re looking for pictures that have a certain tone or feel,give Gratisography a look. All of the photos are taken by a photographer named Ryan McGuire, a web designer and artist who has an eye for good pictures. Ranging from the categories of urban to whimsical, many of these shots have an abstract and artsy sort of feel, so if you’re more into classic pictures this one’s probably not for you.
One Site for All
If you’re not a niche blogger and are looking for that magical site that offers it all, well, there’s a site for you. It’s no surprise that Pixabay has a name and user base as big as it does. With over 1.1 million photos, videos, vector images and illustrations, it really is any blogger’s dream. The only downside with Pixabay is that the photos aren’t screened for quality control so you may spend time scrolling through photos that are low quality or completely irrelevant.
With 40,000 subscribers, FreeImages is another site with an exhaustive selection of images. It offers thousands of free and original pictures from 89 categories, including relaxation, education and office life. Most important, it's easy to search for picture within the site, which is a huge time-saver when you're looking to publish your latest blog post.
For photos with a large and trustworthy name behind them, check out Life of Pix. Backed by The Leeroy Advertising Agency in Montreal, this free stock photo site offers pictures and video you can use for any purpose, from categories like “desk,” to black and whites and textures. The best part part about the site is that it offers new and beautiful photos on a weekly basis. Be cautious when using bigger sites like Pixabay, FreeImages, and Life of Pix though, as not all of the photos are free to use without mentioning the artist or source behind the pictures.
If You’re Too Busy to Find and Choose Pictures
There are incredible sites out there that offer HD stock photos completely free, but if you don’t have the time to search through hundreds of images to find the perfect one, you can try out a site that sends pictures directly to your inbox.
Morguefile offers more than just a catalogue of pictures to browse through and choose from. The Morguefile team sends its subscribers a hand-picked pack of images every month. Each picture is chosen by its creative team and sent to you to use either in your professional work, for personal use, or send to friends and family to enjoy as well. Though the free option offers a lot, signing up for a pro account for only $25 a year allows you to view past picture packs, edit and enhance images, view the site ad-free, and even the option to send Morguefile photographers on a mission to take the perfect picture for you. If this sounds appealing to you, Death to the Stock Photo, will excite you even more. Like Morguefile, its service sends you photos to your inbox, from categories of pictures like “tactical” to “ride or die.” This site boasts some serious subscribers, from companies like TED, Spotify, and Fast Company. If you sign up for the premium service for $145 per year, you receive access to photo filtering and search, the 20+ pictures that get added monthly, unlimited downloads and creative feedback on projects you’re working on.