(Editor’s note: This was one of the top viewed stories of 2015. We’re rerunning it as part of a look back at the articles that captivated our readers the most.)
Searching for and buying stock images can be tedious and expensive, especially if you stick to the standard sites.
But there are other sites out there, and many are better than the status quo. Here are eight sites with great stock photos:
Unsplash is a great source for free high-resolution photos. It offers a mixture of urban shots and rural landscapes, as well as object close-ups. You can find almost anything here.
“Made With Unsplash” is a page where users can post projects in which they used Unsplash photos so visitors can see the photography in action. Unsplash updates every 10 days with 10 new images. It has a Creative Commons license, so you can copy, modify and distribute the work—even for commercial purposes—without asking for permission.
Albumarium is another great resource for high-resolution stock images. It has close-ups of animals, nature and people in modern and vintage styles.
Instead of a Tumblr-like user experience, you search by album to see a collection of images for each subject. Albumarium has about 30 albums, and with titles including Converse, Babies, Elephants and Redheads, it’s clear it has a fun range of topics. I also love Albumarium’s website design.
Victor Hanacek, a Web designer who recognized that many designers have trouble finding high-quality stock images, created Picjumbo to solve the problem. I’ve used a few images from the technology collection, and they worked well. Attribution isn’t necessary, but appreciated.
If you’re looking for quirky images of clowns, men wearing roller skates or someone climbing into a washing machine, look no further. Gratisography updates weekly, and offers a range of images that have people asking, “Wait, what?”
Though some of the photos might only be useful for humorous greeting cards, others can work for projects that call for more literal images. They also work well for blog posts where normal stock images don’t match the author’s irreverence.
This website is fairly new. Created by Sculpt, it features many images of people working in coffee shops with the requisite mobile phones and laptops. It’s perfect for websites that regularly cover freelancers or startups.
Like Unsplash, Little Visuals is a source of high-resolution images in the public domain and under a Creative Commons license. Little Visuals emails you a zip folder of seven images every seven days. However, I’ve found Unsplash’s images a bit more intriguing and practical; Little Visuals’ are more abstract and conceptual.
2. Life of Pix
Leeroy, an advertising agency in Montreal, created this website. All images are free for personal or commercial use. With multiple themes throughout each page, you’ll find a lot of great nature close-ups, including heads of lettuce, bees collecting pollen and even a polar bear under water. These images are useful for backgrounds and patterns.
Although this site is probably the most popular, it’s still No. 1 on my list. Each month subscribers get a package of about 10 new images they can use for anything. Package topics range from a relaxing lake vacation to working in a coffee shop, and almost always include a few gadget shots.
Among all of the great resources for free stock images, Death to the Stock Photo ranks at the top because of each photograph’s quality, creativity and utility.