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best stock photography websites

Best free stock photos for website design

Best stock photography websites in 2021

Penny Dower Hunt, 27 February 2021.

A very important part of developing your website design and digital marketing is finding the right top-quality photography and graphic elements that are in harmony with your brand identity. It is crucial that your website looks professional. It will help to build trust in your brand and demonstrate that you're a professional company.

If you only have a limited budget set aside for photography and can't afford to use a professional photographer, then you should consider using stock photography sites.

We have researched and found 8 of the best stock photo sites which you can utilise for your internet design needs. Our list consists of totally free stock photo sites (if you're on a very tight budget), as well as premium stock image websites which charge a fee per image.

What is stock photography?

Stock photography is an important resource, not just for business owners, but for individuals around the world who are interested in visual design. Stock image sites include a substantial image library of top quality photos, illustrations and video footage, which are free to download from sites that offer free images.

Most of these free stock photo websites are royalty-free, so you don't need to credit the photographer on your website or on social media. You are also able to modify them by editing them to suit your needs and can use them in your digital marketing campaigns.

When looking for stock photography you'll need to decide whether to use a free image library website or an expensive high quality image resource. Both have advantages and drawbacks which you should consider carefully when you look for photos to use on your company website. When picking which choice is the right one for your company, we've identified a few things to consider.

Free stock photography sites

If you're a small business owner with a limited amount to spend then it's important that you don't incur unnecessary costs. If confronted with investing in costly stock images, or growing your company with digital marketing projects, you should focus on digital marketing to grow your business instead.

Free stock photography websites provide a variety of photos and graphic images which you can utilise free of cost. They can be indispensable for business owners who have a limited budget. Unlike premium stock websites, they don't have a vast library of photography and graphic elements, but you should be able to discover top quality photos which fit your brand identity.

Listed below are 4 of the best free stock photo websites:
Pexels free stock photography website

1. Pexels - free stock photos & videos

Pexels offer a wide range of stunning stock photos. All photos and video footage can be downloaded and used free of charge in all media including websites, blogs, sharing on social media and for print projects. The royalty-free photography means attribution is not required. You are free to modify all photos and videos as you wish. The search functionality is great - not only is it very easy to use, but with a multitude of search topics, you are sure to find a photo to suit.

Burst free stock photos website

2. Burst - free stock photos

Burst is a totally free stock photo site that mainly targets small business owners and eCommerce websites like Shopify.  The contemporary site also has useful new product ideas for your shopify ecommerce site.  Their 'Business Ideas' category is devoted to specific kinds of eCommerce online shops. The free Burst stock photo site will provide lots of options for images suitable for your specific niche.

Stocksnap free stock photos website

3. Stocksnap - free stock photos

StockSnap offers some of the best photography on our list of free stock phtography websites. New high-res photos are added weekly and are free to use for personal and commercial projects. The "wallpaper" category features some great macro photography and abstract patterns ideal for backgrounds. StockSnap visitors can also get a 30 day free trial on Shutterstock.

Unsplash free stock photos website

4. Unsplash - free stock photos

Unsplash has over a million free hi-res photos that they continue to update every 10 days! It may take some time to find exactly what you are looking for as their search functionality is somewhat limited. All photos are of a very high quality and royalty-free for commercial and personal use. This means you don't have to credit the photographer although you are encouraged to thank them on social media.


Premium stock photography sites

For the most part premium stock photography sites have photos which are higher in quality than those found on a free stock photo site. Expect to pay a hefty price though for the license to use the the photograph commercially. The photos tend to be more exclusive, so you may still be able to have a unique "stand-out-from-the-crowd" website. The downside is that these photos may appear on a competitor site, so there is no absolute guarantee that you will have a unique appearance.

EyeEm premium stock photos for website design

5. EyeEm - premium stock photos

EyeEm is a global photography community offering premium stock photography. Their mission is to empower their community by offering them a platform to get discovered, while giving brands access to the most powerful creative imagery worldwide. "Essential" 5 Photo Packs for everyday needs cost $50 NZD per photo. Their "Premium High-Quality" photos cost around $340 NZD per photo which is roughly the same price as hiring a professional photographer. The EyeEm search functionality is great - providing many filters within each category to find exactly what you are looking for.

BigStock premium stock photos for website design

6. Bigstock - premium stock photos

Bigstock is a premium stock photography and video website. They offer monthly photo and video plans from $110 NZD per month. Also on offer are image credits starting at $50 NZD for 10 image credits. Although expensive they also offer a free one week trial for their 10 images/day plan which normally costs $138 NZD per month.

Shutterstock premium stock photos for website design

7. Shutterstock - premium stock photos

Shutterstock is one of the most popular premium stock photo websites. With millions of royalty-free photos, videos and illustrations you are sure to find what you want. Look out for their specials which are offered from time to time and free trials for downloading 10 images. A recent addition is their template section offering pre-sized customizable templates for Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, as well as flyers and business cards which can be quickly edited to suit your needs.

iStock premium stock photos for website design

8. iStockPhoto - premium stock photos

iStockPhoto, a leading premium stock photo website, has been around since the turn of the century offering high quality royalty-ree photos, illustrations, video and audio. Although they are one of the most expensive on our list, they have a unique search functionality for checking whether the image you like has been used by another business. They also offer monthly subscriptions - "Essentials" for everyday favourites and the more expensive "Signature" for photography you won't find anywhere else.


Conclusion - sourcing your images

When sourcing photography for your website or blog, make use of all the stock photo sites listed above to find the right images for your niche market. Once you have found your stock photography and video footage it's time for your branding and web design. Contact us for an affordable unique logo and website design tailored to your needs.

If you have any questions regarding photography, branding or website design, we're here to hold your hand!

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