A collection of stock photography resources, from the most popular to the whimsical and colorful to those that focus on diverse and inclusive images.
Visual imagery, videography, and photography are an important part of your business website and blog, and all communications, marketing, promotions, and advertising efforts. The visuals used to represent your brand and communicate your message capture the attention of audiences both online and off.
While big businesses will invest in hiring a photographer to create custom photo collections for their brand initiatives, marketing campaigns, and product promotions, that approach isn’t exactly budget-friendly for freelancers, solopreneurs, and small businesses.
That’s where stock photography comes in.
As with stock video footage, stock photography is the perfect solution for businesses owners on a budget. Stock photography puts high-quality photographs in the hands of budget-conscious businesses for a much lower fee than custom photography or even for free. It’s no wonder the stock photo market is expected to grow 5% annually to reach $4 Billion by 2023.
From website images and blog post images to videos and images that accompany social media posts and images used in advertising and all forms of marketing, businesses of all sizes are creating visual marketing content and they’re using stock photos and stock videos to do it.
- For 42% of marketers, stock photography is the most frequently used type of visual content for marketing campaigns, followed by video.
- When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later. Maybe that’s because images are processed 60,000 times faster than text.
- BuzzSumo reports that articles with an image once every 75-100 words receive double the social media shares as articles with fewer images. Facebook posts with images get 2.3x more engagement than posts without images, and a tweet with images gets 150% more retweets than text-only tweets.
The thing is, finding the perfect stock photo can be tough.
People spend hours scrolling through stock photo and stock video sites, looking for the best stock photos, and searching for just the right image. Unfortunately, you’ll find the same images from the same creators on many of the most popular stock photo sites and far too many of those images look and feel the same.
It can be tempting to turn to Google Images — a search engine that returns images and visual content — as a resource. This is a dangerous game. Just because an image shows up in the Google Images results, doesn’t mean you are allowed to use it. Many images found in the Google Images search results are copyrighted or trademarked, which means you must have written permission from the owner of the photo or the copyright holder to use it.
Using free stock photos, rights-managed photography, and/or royalty-free photography and illustrations ensures that you have the proper permission to use the images you purchase or download, which can save you an expensive legal headache.
Below you’ll find two collections of stock photography sites:
- General Stock Photography Sites: Some are industry behemoths with millions of images, others are niche-focused and offer more unique imagery. Some offer free downloads and others require a fee.
- Stock Photography Sites Focused On Diversity And Inclusion: Sites that focus on creating and sharing imagery that highlights underrepresented groups. And again, some offer free downloads and others require a fee.
I am purposefully separating the two groups of stock photo sites to make sure those sites making diverse and inclusive imagery available don’t get scrolled past, ignored, and lost in this list. Talented creators from underrepresented communities have invested untold time, energy, effort, resources, and money to create valuable collections of visual resources.
Now it’s up to us to use them.
So scroll down, click the links, get familiar with the options available, and mix it up. Make a conscious effort to ensure your visual imagery accurately reflects your audience and the communities you do business in.
Popular Stock Photo And Illustration Resources
Unsplash: Over 2 million free to do-whatever-you-want with high-resolution images gifted by hundreds of thousands of creative people around the world.
Pexels: High quality and completely free stock photos from a community of photographers for designers, writers, artists, programmers and other creators.
Pixabay: Discover more than 2.3 million copyright-free, attribution-free stock images, videos, and music.
Deposit Photos: 210 million royalty-free stock images, videos, vectors, illustrations, and music.
Shutterstock.com: 300 million images with 200,000 added every day, plus video and music. Some resources are free, most require a paid subscription or credits.
Gratisography: Unique, whimsical, quirky, werid, silly, bold, colorful, and definitely not boring stock photos to help you stand out and get noticed.
StockSnap.io: Beautiful, high-quality stock photos for just about any use you can think of for free with no attribution required.
New Old Stock: Recapturing history through vintage photos from the public archives. Free of known copyright restrictions.
Startup Stock Photos: Free startup, office, team, and tech stock photos ready for your next creative project.
Life of Pix: Free high-resolution stock photos, no copyrights restrictions for personal and commercial use.
Death To Stock: An Artist Owned Co-op that provides you with the freshest authentic stock photos and videos; with unlimited downloads and new work added every month.
Creative Market: Find graphics, illustrations, photography, fonts, icons, software add-ons, and even templates for everything from a presentation deck to a business card.
Negative Space: A community of photographers who want to share their work. And a community of online visitors who want to use their free high-resolution images without any restrictions.
Getty Images: Exclusive and unique creative and editorial visual content with over 415 million assets that include imagery, video, music, multimedia, and premium digital content.
Freerange Stock: High-quality, free, stock photos, textures, and illustrations that do not require attribution.
Burst By Shopify: Free high-resolution stock photos for websites and commercial use with no attribution required.
Rawpixel: Design resources and diverse stock photography that reflect today’s society as it really is.
SplitShire: Instant download collection of free stock photos and videos for personal and commercial use.
ISO Republic: Thousands of free, high-resolution stock images and videos delivered in curated collections. Attribution is encouraged but not required.
iStock By Getty Images: Discover authentic, exclusive, story-driven photos, videos, and illustrations that have the power to move, inspire—and engage.
Reshot: Free icons, illustrations, and photography from Envato Elements. No cost, SVGs available, and no attribution required.
Kaboom Pics: A royalty-free stock image service (and one-woman show) for lifestyle, interior design, and specialized bloggers.
Shot Stash: Thousands of completely free stock photographs that can be used for commercial and editorial use and without any limitations, requirements, or commitments.
Motion Array: Stock photos for commercial and editorial use. A small number of photos are available for free but most require a paid subscription with unlimited downloads.
Dissolve: A collection of high quality, premium, stock photos priced per image. Royalty-free photos start at $5 and increase to $499+. Rights-managed photo pricing varies with medium, usage, audience size, and term of project.
Dreamstime: Access a catalong of free commercial stock photos and 180,000 free Public Domain images or explore a library of 167M+ royalty-free stock photos and illustrations available through credit packs and subscriptions.
Storyblocks: Become a member and save on millions of high-quality, royalty-free stock photos, vectors, and illustrations. Subscriptions include unlimited downloads.
123RF: Royalty-free stock photos, images, and pictures available on-demand by purchasing on-demand credits, a pack of images, or through a monthly or annual subscription.
Adobe Stock: royalty-free, hand-picked stock photos, illustrations, and vector graphics, as well as premium and editorial stock photos. Sign up to get 10 free images then choose a monthly/annual subscription plan.
Envato Elements: Stock photos filterable by keyword, color, orientation, and background style, plus graphics, illustrations, patterns, and icons available through a monthly subscription with unlimited downloads.
PhotoDune: Free downloads available each month. Millions of exclusive, royalty-free stock photos for any budget. Photos are vetted by experts and pricing starts at only $2.00.
Vecteezy: Royalty-free, stock photos and vector illustrations for personal or commercial use. A Pro Subscription offers unlimited downloads, no ads, and no attribution.
JumpStory: Boost your content library with unlimited access to millions of high-performing and authentic stock images, videos, vectors and icons for just $12/month (14-day free trial available).
Freepik: Some vector images and stock photography are free for commercial use with attribution. Upgrade to a monthly or annual subscription for access to the full collection without attribution.
Pond5: Royalty-free photos, vectors, illustrations, and PSDs for your next creative project available for sale individually, with credits, or through a monthly or annual subscription.
Pixel True: 500+ free illustrations and animations that are free to use for personal and commercial use without attribution. Premium illustrations available through annual and lifetime subscriptions.
Alamy: 260 million stock images, vectors, videos, and 360-degree panoramic images. No subscriptions, no credits, no need to register! Individual image pricing starts at $19.99.
Authentic, Diverse, Inclusive Stock Imagery
As great as all of the stock photography sites listed above are, almost all of them have the same problem: Representation in the stock photo collections is predominantly white and fails to accurately represent the beautifully diverse makeup of our world and communities.
One of the stock photo sites I discovered when searching to find more diverse imagery for my content marketing imagery said it best: “The majority of people in the world are of color so there is no reason why stock imagery shouldn’t include them.”
No matter what type of business you’re in, whether it’s traditional or digital, the imagery used to market, communicate, promote, and advertise your offers needs to represent the people engaging, browsing, buying, participating, joining, enrolling, and investing.
When someone sees another person in the imagery used by your business that looks like them, it immediately communicates: You belong.
- Using stock imagery that is diverse and inclusive — showing a variety of genders, races, ages, or abilities — ensures the imagery used to market your business reflects the communities you do business in and do business with.
- Ensuring underrepresented groups are included in brand visuals shows the people in those communities that they matter and that they are valued.
- Using photographs and illustrations that accurately portray the diversity in your audience will drive more engagement from your audience and help more people connect with your brand.
- Creating visuals that look like the audience you need to communicate with will drive more conversions because people are far more likely to do something — like attend an event, sign up for a program, enroll in a course, join a membership, hire a service provider, or buy a product — if they see other people that look like them doing it too.
It’s a small change that makes a big difference.
Thankfully the excuse, “I would have used more diverse, inclusive images but we just couldn’t find any,” no longer holds much weight because incredibly talented diverse creators from underrepresented communities have stepped up to solve the problem for you.
Below you’ll find a collection of stock photo, illustration, and imagery resources that celebrate and highlight underrepresented communities. So next time you’re searching for just the right stock image, consider starting with one of these websites and supporting these creators.
Plus, if you’re a teacher, at PicDiversity, Inc., you can access an entire library of diverse class media created just for teachers!
Disabled And Here: A disability-led effort to provide free and inclusive images with photos and illustrations celebrating disabled Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC).
Diversity Photos: Relevant, authentic, inclusive stock photos that dispell stereo-types and not only respect but celebrate the nuances and complex layers of the human race.
Nappy: Beautiful free photos of Black and Brown people by those who are intentional about cultural representation for companies who are purposeful about representation in their designs, presentations, and advertisements.
WOCin Tech: Stock photos that show a different representation of all women in tech, which include entrepreneurs, software engineers, infosec professionals, IT analysts, marketers, and other people who make up the tech ecosystem.
Black Illustrations: Beautiful free and paid illustrations of black people for your next digital project.
The Noun Project: A professionally-selected collection of pictures that celebrate diversity and inclusion.
Brwn Stock Imaging: A stock photo site committed to providing images that specifically feature black and brown people to fulfill a need for more inclusive representation of a broader community.
Jopwell: Free photos of Black, Latinx, and Native American students and professionals that require attribution. Powered by Pixieset, software for photographers to deliver, proof, and sell photos.
POC Stock: Stunning images that highlight the many pigmentations, features, lifestyles, fashion, and cultures that make melanated people — Black, Hispanic and LatinX, Asian and Middle Eastern, and Native people — beautifully diverse.
#ShowUs By Getty Images: A ground-breaking library of more than 14,000 stock photographs devoted to shattering beauty stereotypes by showing female-identifying and non-binary individuals as they are, not as others believe they should be.
Disability:IN: Disability inclusive stock photography to empower businesses to achieve disability inclusion and equality. Attribution is required.
CreateHER Stock: Authentic stock images featuring melanated women for lifestyle, business, and everyday content creation for bloggers, creatives, and growing influencers.
TONL: Culturally diverse stock photos that represent the true world we live in and depict more earnest portrayals of everyday life.
Mocha Stock: High quality, editorial-ready stock imagery and video content that focuses on diversity and inclusion.
UK Black Tech: A collection of diverse images, free to use in your next project because representation matters.
PICNOI: Easily search and find diverse, inclusive, multi-racial images that highlight people of color.
Blend Images By Tetra Images: Multi-cultural and ethnically diverse stock images and footage from leading creative artists located around the world.
Pixels In Colour: Find royalty-free images that feature underrepresented people of color and add diversity to the world of stock photography.
Stocksy: Authentic, unique, beautiful, royalty-free, stock photography and video footage that prioritizes fresh, diverse interpretations of contemporary concepts and correcting for under-represented voices.
Gender Spectrum Collection: Images of trans and non-binary models that go beyond the clichés to better represent people not defined by their gender identities in everyday personal and professional environments.
humaaans: Mix-&-match illustrations of people with a design library. Free to use for commercial or personal use under the CC0 license. Change hairdos, tops, pants, rotate and position body elements, and more.
iStock Inclusive Storytelling Collection: Racially diverse stock images and video clips that represent people of all ages, genders, and abilities and shine a light on underrepresented communities.