Best Stock Photo Sites

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High quality stock photos will help take your projects from average to spectacular!

If your own photographic skills are a bit iffy and you aren’t in a position to hire a professional, there are a variety of resources out there to enable you to easily create an image bank for both your personal and commercial endeavours.

Whether you’re putting together a website, blog, social media posts, presentation, documents, signage, marketing collateral, wall art or event invitations, stock photos add visually compelling content at low cost.

We’ve put together a list of our favourite stock libraries for you, so you don’t need to do the research and frantic Googling to find what you need.

Stock libraries showcase a vast selection of pre-edited, high quality images, videos and graphics that can be licensed for your creative use (either personal, commercial or editorial).  They cover a vast array of topics, including landscapes, people and animals, objects, food and drink, situations, events and abstract concepts.

When you buy an element from a stock library, part of the cost goes to the creator’s royalty fees and part of it goes to the agency showcasing and selling the photographer’s work.

When material is copyrighted, it is legally protected and can’t be downloaded or used without you getting permission and paying royalties to the owner.  When you purchase a royalty-free content, however, you’re buying the rights to use that content without paying royalties. 

Most stock libraries have filterable searches that allow you to access only royalty free content, if you choose to. If there’s no filterable search option, the licence details of each item will inform you of their status.

Most libraries have different plans suiting different budgets, depending on how many images you want to buy, how often.

Some also have a huge selection of free images, though you’ll still need to open an account (which is quick and easy) to get access to these.

You can – unless the licence for a particular image states that you can’t. Once you’ve purchased an image, you can usually do whatever you like to it – change the colours, crop or edit out elements you don’t like, add effects and any other bits and pieces you want. The same applies to videos and vector graphics. You can also apply filters in social media, Photoshop and Lightroom

While this may have been true in the past, there’s been a major transition in recent years to more natural-looking imagery.

Of course, if you’re looking for something more humorous and staged, you can find that too.

When you’re searching through stock libraries, it’s best to be consistent when it comes to themes and colours (saturation, vibrance and hues). Most libraries offer you the option to find similar pics or to view more from a particular creator or series.

Before you purchase anything, consider whether you need images or graphics with a transparent background and which orientation (portrait, landscape or panoramic) would best suit your project.

Make sure the images you use are relevant to and will enhance your content. 

Most importantly, always check the licence for each image – if it says personal, you can’t use them in commercial projects; if it says commercial, you can use it in most instances, except for resale*; if it says editorial, it’ll be far more costly and can often only be used once for a specific project.

*Licences do vary, with regards to how often and for what you’ll use each image, so please remember to check, to avoid headaches later.

Have a look through our favourites below:

Best sites for free pics: