Nothing says ‘professional’ more than enticing, exciting visuals that engage the viewer. If you’re a professional designer, you know it’s extremely important to have a repertoire of high-quality images that can drastically improve the final look of your projects and give them the visual appeal you desire.
Professional photography has always been a key element for design, but one of the common obstacles designers face is finding the right stock images for a project. The Internet is a great source for endless stock images. However, some of them can look generic and fake. Finding free images that have the right look for your goals is a very tedious and time consuming task mainly due to pricing and copyright or attribution requirements.
If you lack the money, skillset or time to create your own original photographs, stock images may be the solution you’re looking for. However, high quality images are usually expensive and projects may go out of budget as you add new -and cool- pics to your web or print design.
Enter Free -or super cheap- Stock Images!
First things first, before you browse and download that beautiful image, make sure you get the right kind of license. In case you don’t know already, here’s a quick guide to the most common ones out there:
Types of Stock Images
According to StockPhotoGuides, there are several types of stock licenses you should be aware of before you immerse yourself in the world of stock photography:
- Royalty Free (RF): this means that you can use the image as many times as you like without paying a royalty. This is the best choice for designers with a limited budget. However, it’s important to keep in mind that these images are not exclusive; anyone can purchase and use them.
- Rights Managed (RM): this type of license you gives an exclusive, time-limited use of a stock photo and are granted on a pay-per-use basis. This means that you can use the image only in the time specified in the license contract and for one particular project or even geographical area.
- Extended/Enhanced Licenses: This license gives you permission to extend several uses granted in the original license, like the number of copies showing the image, to be able to use it for resale (calendars, T-shirts, cards, among others), or allow other methods of redistribution.
Where to Find Them?
Here are a few websites that feature high-quality free – or extremely cheap - stock images or illustrations that can help your projects be unique enough to grab your audience’s attention, without breaking bank:
- Unsplash: a great choice for designers since it provides 10 new photos every 10 days. The images featured on this site are CC0 (basically public domain), making it the best license out there. Not only does this site provide high-quality photos with the best license, but you can modify, copy, distribute the work for commercial purposes without asking for permission.
- Pixabay: this website also provides free of copyright images. Like Unsplash, the images are published under the CC0 domain. You need to register to be able to download free images, and as you click the download link, you can select the resolution you desire according to your project needs. Pixabay is an excellent choice because you can use any image without attribution for personal or commercial purposes in digital or printed form.
- PhotoPin: it features a very powerful search engine for free images that can be used for personal or commercial projects. It searches for creative common (CC0) images based on your terms from the web and allows you to download them, as long as you add a copyright reference to the photographer.
- Photodune: if you jointhis site, you can find royalty free stock photography starting at 3$. There are endless options: from animals, architecture, food, business, health, sports, people, technology and travel to suit any kind of design project.
- Graphicstock: this is a great source for unlimited stock images. You can start downloading as soon as you join the site – and they give you 7 free downloads. This site gives you access to more than 250,000 vectors, images, icons and buttons and allowing you to download 20 images a day.
- Little Visuals: this website also requires you to sign up before downloading. Unlike Unsplash, Little Visuals provides the CC0 (creative commons public domain deed) high resolution images and photos. The only downside to this site is that they only send you 7 high resolution images to your email every week.
- Death to the Stock Photo: this source provides you 10 free high-resolution photos within a category to your email every month, allowing you to do whatever you like with them. They use their own license.
As you can see, there is a growing number of amazing resources for free or dirt cheap stock images on the net. We hope the the websites above spare you time and stress and help you find the perfect images that suit all of your projects, whether it’s printing professional t-shirts, ordering promotional mugs for a customer (from cool peeps like us) or even for web design.
What sources are you using or have recently discovered for high- quality stock photography that can help other designers? Share your thoughts below or hit us up on social media, don't forget to tag @4over4!