Have you ever paid attention to blind wine tastings?
Have you notice how almost unanimously, the judges always get to the conclusion that the pricier wines taste better?
That’s because perception is reality.
Our brains are so innately lazy that they tend to go for the easily affordable message first, regardless of whether it’s true. Messages like “price means quality”, or “Clean means fancy”.
The images you use on your website are no different. When you share a blog post on social media, the image you use will directly impact whether people scroll without a second thought, or stop to consider reading your headline.
And what makes people stop is one of 2 things:
- Personal Reflection
That is, for an image to create the most impact it should either be very different from what I would expect to see everywhere else, or it should latch onto my personal beliefs so strongly that I have no choice but to stop and look.
And I’m not the only one saying it! When asked, Millenials reported valuing authenticity and relatability in a business above most other purchase decision triggers.
So, if you’re going to use shockingly different, authentic or relatable images across your wordpress website and online presence, you’re most likely not going to find them on the old school stock photo websites.
I’ll give your a list of places to find free photos, but also paid sites where you will find refreshingly modern professional stock photos.
Where To Find Free Photos For Your Website
The Lesser Known:
Burst is ideal for online stores, but not only. It is the brainchild of Shopify and has pictures you’re not likely to find elsewhere.
You’ll find an amazing range of food photography from this website. Top views, ingredients pics, wine and photos to reflect most diet types.
These guys make a point of reminding you that their photos are free and ideal for commercial use. That includes their free stock videos, which in an era of increasing relevance of video online can come in handy. Take a second to also explore their growing range of mockups, landscape photos and still life, for no registration at all.
Bucketlistly offers genuine, free travel photos from around the world. Type in the location you’re after in the search bar and voila! Not sure they have absolutely every part of the world yet, but I’ve been able to find what I wanted.
New Old Stock is a collection of vintage photos you’d have a hard time finding anywhere else. If you want truly unique photos, give these a try.
Unlike many traditional stock photo websites, Pikwizard has a ginormous library of real life professional settings. If you head over there and search for “meeting” for example, you’d see what I mean. I was pleasantly surprised to find images on Pikwizard that I hadn’t found anywhere else. Which means that if you’re interested in using images that aren’t too vulgar, this is a website I’d recommend you spend some time on.
The Most Known:
Probably the most popular alternative stock photography website for a reason. You’ll find the widest range of curated images here. If you could only visit 1 site from all the sites on this list, visit this one.
Pexel is the first website I came across when I started looking for unique stock photos. They’ve been around for a while now and have slowly grown to become household names in this space. Whatever you’re looking for, they likely will have.
Picjumbo delivers consistently high picture quality. Although most pictures are free, there is a paid option if you wish to uncover more from this treasure trove.
Home of the quirkiest stock photos.
Paid, Affordable Gems:
These are websites with entry level plans that ALL include unlimited downloads. That is, if you feel like downloading all the free photos for your website in one day, suit yourself. Just make sure you have enough memory to store all those. Finally, they all come with monthly and yearly plans. Pick whichever you can afford.
$0/month , $5/month, $29/month
Rawpixel is the perfect entry level website for anyone looking to start paying for stock photography. Their selection is wide, tasteful, and conscious. And because it’s paid (really low entry), you’ll find their pictures on fewer competitor sites. Rawpixel also offers PSD mockups and vectors.
I’ve used this website for years now. While the specificity and quality of the shoots has gone dramatically up, I still haven’t seen a replicate of some of my photos anywhere. That’s how exclusive their content is.
Ever wondered where some of the bigger brands get their everyday, authentic photos from? Right here.
Elite Level Stock Images
The price point here is obviously on the higher end, reasonably, as you will understand when you have a look at their stunning range of stock photos.
Can I use These Free Stock Photos Anywhere Without Paying?
Mostly yes. The majority of the images in the free sites above are covered by a license called “Creative Commons”, which makes them part of the public domain. The most some websites will ask is for you to kindly give credit to the author before using them commercially. Please be kind.
But some pictures aren’t, —although they’re still free— in which case they will only be available for personal and non-commercial use. The best way to know what license the pictures you want are covered by, is to visit the website’s license page.
2 Tips To Select The Best Free Images on Stock Photo Websites
In each of the websites above, you’ll be bombarded with fresh, extensive lists of photos. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, they may suck up a lot of your time. To avoid it, it’s best to always dive into these websites with a strategy ready. Here’s my 2-rule strategy.
1. Favour Situational Images Over Standalone Items
Let’s say you’re looking for an image of a drink and let’s imagine your target audience is blue collar workers. If all you do is chose the first picture of a bottle from your stock photo website, then Joe scrolling his Facebook timeline may never stop to look at that.
But if that bottle is on a floor next to some dirty gloves, with some tradies eating their lunch in the background, then Joe might stop. Your image has latched onto his reality.
Or you could make the image latch onto his dreams. Cue the bottle in an esky on the beach with mates surfing in the background. Those images work for a reason.
Or if you chose to go for the shock effect instead, then a bottle with strings of smiling heads oozing out of it, will snatch the attention of anyone scrolling.
Whatever the case, put the subject of your image in a context.
2. Adopt a Photography Style And Stick To It
The reason established businesses adopt a photography style and stick to it, is because repetition helps strengthen the positive biases people have about your business while slowly chipping away at the negative ones.
A business that preaches peace of mind for example, could chose to favour images with single colour backgrounds, or outdoor images with white skies.
In the same token, a business that’s very experience oriented may chose to feature smiling faces in 80% of their images.
Once you’ve decided what your core message and values are as a business, then decide what your photography style should be. Having a style will help you quickly decide which images to skip and which ones to shortlist when you visit free stock photo websites.