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11 of Our Favorite Free & Paid Stock Photo Resources

Free and Paid Stock Photo Resources

Finding the right imagery to use on your website, blog or social media can be challenging. Most small businesses don’t have the budget to hire a professional photographer or the skills to take the photos themselves – so what are the other options to find that ‘perfect shot’?

You may be tempted, but taking an image from Google Image search is a major no-no, unless you have the legal rights to use it. You need to look for quality stock photography, or royalty free images that are safe for commercial use. Questions on whether or not you can use a certain image? There are plenty of resources so you can make sure you’re using images legally.

To help you in your search, here are some of our favorite paid and free stock photo resources.

Paid Resources

istockphoto.com – iStock is one of the leading sources of stock and royalty free imagery. Backed by Getty images, they have an enormous library of images and illustrations to choose from. They also offer video, audio, and vector files.
Pros: HUGE selection
Cons: Pricing is on expensive side. Plans offers credit or subscription based options, but either way both are on the high side per image.

shutterstock.com – Shutterstock is also one of the largest in the biz boasting an impressive “over 60 millions images” in their database. Their site is clean, well organized, and you can find almost any kind of image. They top the charts with their selection of high-res images, especially for large-format designs.
Pros: Large selection and lots of categories: Images, Vectors, Illustrations, etc..
Cons: The most expensive and geared at high volume purchasing instead of on demand use.

photodune.net – Part of the Envato ecosystem, Photodune has a fair selection of stock imagery. You won’t find the same selection or as many high-resolution offerings as some of the leaders, but they definitely have competitive pricing – especially if you’re using web-sized (72 DPI) images.
Pros: Affordable and priced more for single or few time use.
Cons: Smaller selection than competition.

dreamstime.com – Lesser known Dreamstime thrives on the the idea of creating a sharing community. It’s database currently holds about 36 million stock images.
Pros: Large selection, reasonably priced, plus you can pay per download with credit packages or purchase a subscription.
Cons: We weren’t able to find any!

Free Resources

Who doesn’t love free stuff? We love the sites below for free imagery with minimal (and sometimes no) strings attached. Each site (and sometimes each image) has different rules for usage, so make sure you check into that. For these sites, the obvious pro is the price (free!). The only real con is the sometimes limited selection. You’ll tend to see a lot of landscapes, mac laptops and friends gathering – so it all depends on what you need. But if you have time to look through, you can save yourself a few bucks.

The direction you go will depend on both your budget and what the subject of the imagery is. Whatever resource you choose, make sure you understand the license and restrictions, and be sure to give credit where credit is due. Attribution is always appreciated even when it’s not required.

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Written by Aerin


Aerin is the Consumer Engagement Manager at MB3. She brings 10 years of social media and marketing experience to the table, and she has a passion for great content, strategy and problem solving. She loves all thing digital, but also enjoys sending snail mail in her spare time.