For years stock photography was been something you order from other companies, but thanks to the advent of digital photography and the Internet, we now have access to thousands upon thousands of images online from innumerable sources.
(Hopefully) Gone are the days of the strange perspective, wacky poses on white backgrounds, but the new trouble designers across the world are struggling with is this era of blurred commonality. Stock images feel repetitious, sometimes completely embracing stereotypes of women or other nationalities that are not flattering at all. If you are smart, you can avoid these visual offenses.
Yet many of the common types of images out there act as examples of photographers attempting to blanket cover a seemingly generic topic. The fallout of this effect is seen breaking the separation of the brands are using them. Recently I had a conversation with a friend about Ariane who you might recognize as the most overused stock photography model on the planet. We realized that we were seeing this model in a lot of different advertising and she was the most noticeable element in the ads. The problem was that we couldn’t recall a single company that the advertising was for. The lack of unique imagery makes the branding and visual identity of these companies fall apart by making Ariane their identity indirectly.
Sometimes you just need to be more creative, a little more realistic and tell a better story. Great images have to have heart, something you can really embrace and trust to tell your story or message. Here are some solutions you can use to find better stock images online outside of the standard Thinkstock/Shutterstock/iStock/etc.
Signup and receive 10 free photos a month. If you take the Wired Magazine offer you can get samples right away. For $10/month go premium and have access to all images past and present as well as supporting these creative types in their endeavor.
These photos are free to use commercially and personally. I was surprised with the amount of variety here initially, as well as the categories in the sidebar. A minor complaint is the site’s user interface is pretty bad due to ads. But hey, free content right? Premium membership to PicJumbo is only $6/month gets you access to 30+ new images every month.
These photos are created by photographers who have contributed to the archives. This is not your typical stock photo site, but rather an archive of high quality, smart photography for inspiration as well as being used in layouts.They offer a $10/monthly fee to have the ability to bulk download images rather than individually. Money also goes to supporting this effort to collect images that are licensed under Creative Commons Zero.
Unsplash.com, updates the site every day with 10 new images. The variety of photographers that contribute bring in a great variety of lifestyle, food, urban and rural imagery. The best part of Unsplash is that their images are licensed under Creative Commons Zero which means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free. This includes commercial purposes, without having to ask permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.
FoodiesFeed.com does exactly what you think it would. It specializes in great, high resolution food related images that you can use for free. The only thing here that hurts the site is the amount of ads, but it pretty clear what to do once you use the site.
Other noteworthy sources:
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