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Finding Stock Images – Our Top 4 Sites for Free Images

25 February 2022

What is a stock image?

‘Stock Image’ is a term used for defining imagery that has been produced, and typically licensed for a specific use. There are a few different types of stock imagery – free ones & paid ones. In this article, we’ll cover where to get high-quality stock imagery from, and how, to make sure you’re playing by the rules when it comes to image licensing, copyright, and using stock images in a commercial setting.

Where do I find good stock imagery?

Finding good imagery is easy – once you know how! As a business owner, it’s really important to be using royalty-free and license-free imagery from stock image sites, unless you are using images that you have taken.

Here are our TOP 4 stock image sites, and they’re completely FREE!!

  • We find Pexels is great for beautiful high-quality imagery.
  • We use Pixabay if we need to find images that are more specific.
  • We use Unslpash as a secondary resource to Pexels.
  • We use Canva for great stock images and graphics for social media posts.
Finding Stock Images - Pixabay - Web Design and SEO Company Ltd
Finding Stock Images - Unsplash - Web Design and SEO Company Ltd
Finding Stock Images - Canva - Web Design and SEO Company Ltd
Finding Stock Images - Pexels - Web Design and SEO Company Ltd

How do I access these stock images?

You can access these websites by clicking the links in this article! The sites themselves are really user-friendly with an easy-to-navigate search bar on the homepages. Simply search for the subject that you want an image of, and choose one from the related search results.

For example, say I’m an electrician and want to find a new image to update my social media cover with. I would start by opening Pexels and searching for ‘Electrician,’ then look to see if any of the related images correspond with what I am looking for. I would then click on the image and download it to my device.

In just a few clicks, I have selected a new cover photo for my business’ Facebook page, and because I have downloaded the image from Pexels, I can be assured that the image is fine for me to use for my business, as it is royalty-free and copyright-free.

Finding Stock Images - Electrician Using A Screwdriver - Web Design and SEO Company Ltd

Can I use stock images for commercial purposes?

In short, yes! As long as the stock image site that you are downloading the images from is royalty-free and copyright-free. DISCLAIMER – Please check that the stock images you are using are royalty and copyright-free, and safe for commercial use, this will be disclosed clearly on the stock image site’s webpage. You can use these images in a commercial setting (on your business’ website, social media, and if you were to advertise your business through other channels). The stock image site will disclose if the images featured are royalty-free and copyright-free.  The sites that we have recommended are all free of charge, but there are some stock image sites that require you to pay monthly for access, or will require a one-off payment for each image that you download.

As above, we suggest using your own images as a primary source of content, and using FREE stock images as a secondary source. If you think your business would benefit from a paid subscription to a stock image site, then we would suggest using IStock, Envato Elements, Canva Pro and 123 RF.

Think of images as the personal property of the person who took the photo/created the artwork. In this scenario, you want to use that person’s property for something that benefits you and your business. You wouldn’t do this with someone else’s property, so there’s no exception for digital property.  Therefore, it’s crucial to use royalty-free and copyright-free images to avoid any copyright infringement.

If you’re still unsure whether you can use someone else’s images then have a look at the government copyright notice for digital imagery.

What should I look for when selecting images?

You should always keep in mind what you’re going to be using your images for. Is it going to be a square Instagram post? A wide website banner? Or maybe you need it to be really crisp because you’re running adverts for your business! Each of these examples require different images, so it’s important to select images that are going to serve their purpose.

When selecting images to use for a square Instagram post, you want to make sure that the subject isn’t going to be cropped out. You want the image to showcase everything that you need it to.

When choosing images for website banners, you need to remember the images you select should be in landscape format because they are going to be cropped down and will need to span the whole width of a desktop screen.

When deciding on images to use in advertisements, you want to make sure that the image is high resolution, so that it looks really crisp when it goes to print or is showcased on the web. When running print adverts in particular, the publication will specify the dimensions of your advert. You can use these dimensions to select your images to best fit the advert space.

If you’re using the stock image sites that we have recommended, you shouldn’t have any issues with image resolution.

Remember you can always make an image smaller (compress it), but you can’t increase the quality of an image. Why not read about our recent article on getting images ready to use on your website.

Finding Stock Images - Pexels Website - Web Design and SEO Company Ltd

Can I just take my own images?

Absolutely you can! And we would highly recommend doing so for social media content. Most of us have a mobile phone in our pockets and with that comes a camera. Your mobile phone is your best friend when it comes to gathering content for your business’ social media.

We always recommend using images that you have taken as a primary source of content for your business’ social media. Take photos while you’re out on the job – before and afters of completed projects, or fun photos of you and your team to share the faces behind your business.

Sharing the goings-on behind your business, allows people to connect with you and your business on a personal level – doing this boosts social media engagement and builds a friendly brand-image for your business.

On the other hand, we would suggest steering clear of using images that are taken on your mobile phone when it comes to large images on your website or when using images for advertisements. The image quality may look great on your phone screen, but when the image is enlarged to the full width of a desktop screen or printed in a magazine, the image can appear pixilated and grainy. This is where stock images can be a lifesaver! They can provide high-resolution image-quality for you to use when selecting large images to go on your website and when using them in advertisements.