This post contains affiliate links.
Blogging is primarily a written medium, but it’s important to make your posts interactive and pretty – that’s what attracts readers! Paid stock photography websites have been around forever, but not only are they expensive, a lot of the images they have feel very rigid. Smaller, more boutique styled photography sites have been popping up more and more lately, and many of them even offer free photos or assets.
An important note is to always track your permissions when downloading and using stock photography so you a) don’t get sued or b) have proof that you obtained the image from a stock photo site legally and didn’t steal it from somewhere. I do this by taking a screenshot of the photo as well as the uploader (usually the photographer) on the screen, and saving those in a folder on my computer. I also save photos with the photographer’s name as the file name – that way, if I ever need it, I’ll easily be able to find it.
Here’s one case of a blogger being sued for using an image improperly and here’s a story of a blogger obtaining the image and using it properly, but an unsavory photographer claiming otherwise. (If it seems like a lot, that’s why photography subscription sites are becoming so popular – or, even better, shoot your own photos!) Whatever you do, don’t just go to Google Images and save the first photo without a watermark that you like!
Here are a few of my favorite resources for high-quality free stock photos for bloggers!
Death to the Stock Photo: I’ve subscribed to Death to the Stock Photo for almost four years, so I have a huge library of images just from them! Every month they email photo packs around a specific theme, but most of them are outdoorsy/travel-inspired. They have a paid subscription service as well that allows you access to a larger library, as well as the past photo packs only current subscribers could access. DTTSP also has a “plain English” license that might help you get comfortable interpreting all that fancy legalese!
Creative Market: Though it’s not explicitly for stock photos, this design resource website does have a photos section with lots of different topics for your blog. Many of the images are paid, but if you sign up for their mailing list, every week you’ll get 6-9 free assets – sometimes it’s fonts or Photoshop brushes, and sometimes it’s a set of photos. It’s worth signing up – it’s one of my favorite ways to get free design resources for my blogs!
Independent Blogger Photography Services: One of the best ways to find unique styled photography is from bloggers who provide stock photo subscription services on their websites. These might seem harder to find, but since they’re smaller, not as many people will be using the same images. They’re often built on a subscription model, but offer free photos – sometimes even multiple packs per month! Here are a few of my favorite sites – sign up for their mailing lists to get access to their free stock libraries!
Unsplash: Another website with a huge library of photos, Unsplash has become really popular in the past few years, and even powers stock photo libraries for other websites. Thoughtfully composed and really pretty, their collections are for a wide variety of different subjects and topics. You can sign up for your own account and create collections to organize photos you like, or browse collections created by other users (like me!). Since Unsplash is very popular and one of the biggest stock photography resources, you may see the same photos over and over – so if you want to be really unique, I might stay away from this website.
The Hungry JPEG: Similar to Creative Market, the Hungry JPEG is another marketplace for design assets. They offer one free freebie every week, and sometimes they’ll have stock photo sets! They have a $1 deal section too for really affordable ways to expand your own photo (and design) library.
Canva: Though Canva is primarily a design editing software, they do also have stock photography available in their interface. This is even more helpful as they keep a record of stock permissions for you, so if you’re a total novice at design, check out Canva and try out their templates!