It’s true what they say. A picture tells a thousand words (which is a big thing to admit considering how much I believe in the power of prose).

Stock photography is a great way to add that wow-factor to your marketing efforts. While we’d all like custom-shot professional images for our print and digital material, the reality is that it can be expensive and time-consuming to organise. If your business is just starting out, you’re no doubt wanting to keep expenses down, and this is where stock photography can become your best friend. It’s just a matter of knowing where to look.


Below are some of my favourite, free (yes, free) stock photography sites. These sites are licenced under the Creative Commons Zero licence, which means images can be copied, modified and distributed for free, including for commercial purposes, and don’t require a credit (unless, of course, you want to as a sign of appreciation).

Unsplash, and Pexels are large sites featuring thousands of high-resolution photos donated by photographers around the world. The sites allows you to search, browse or discover images via curated collections and are regularly updated with fresh photographs. Pexels allows you to search by colour which can come in handy if you have specific brand colours.

KaboomPics, SplitShire, picjumbo and Gratisography are smaller sites featuring the works of sole creatives or photographers. If you’re looking for less-commonly used imagery, or something a bit quirky, these sites are a good place to start.

For images delivered to your inbox every week, try Death to Stock Photos. Subscribe for free to have a pack of new images emailed monthly, or upgrade to their premium package and access the full collection and inject funding back into their creative enterprise. Death to Stock Photos operates under its own licence, so make sure you check the restrictions for use before downloading any images.

If you have the budget, Stocksy features a highly-curated collection of royalty-free stock photographs that are engaging, creative, and not your typical 'stock photography' vibe.


Some last parting tips

  • Your website is your primary marketing tool so consider making a small investment in sourcing high-quality images. The majority of images for this website were purchased from Stocksy, and I think you’ll agree they help to build our brand.

  • Optimise your images before uploading them to your website—both the physical size and the file size. Try to keep the image dimensions (the px) no larger than the size of your website space or the monitor you intend your audience to view them on. I like to stick with a maximum of 1500px for most sites. To avoid long downloads and slow website performance, experiment with compressing original image resolution by 20–50%. As a general rule, resize full-page web images to 80–100kB and part-page images to 20–30kB.

  • Give image files a meaningful name when you save them (e.g. woman in boots on jetty), rather than using the default image number or source name. This can enhance your website’s search engine appeal, and the same also goes for your image captions. Make the words meaningful and relevant to the page.


Happy image hunting. P.S. Chasing that perfect shot is highly addictive!