We live in an increasingly visual world where consumers respond to photos, videos and infographics more than most other content.
It’s important to note that when people hear information, they're likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later.
The value of visual content for your business means that consistent, quality imagery needs to be a priority, but not everyone can afford to create their own suite of brand photography, so what can you do?
Stock photos are an affordable, accessible option when it comes to adding imagery to your brand, but not all are created equal, so I wanted to share my favourite places to find the perfect photos for you.
There are a bunch of free tools for building your business out there and photography is no exception. Although there are a variety of free photos out there, the following tools provide high-quality, beautiful images that are licensed for personal and commercial use, so that you don’t have to settle for average photos just because they’re free, and you can ensure your legal coverage when using them.
Unsplash is probably the most well-known free image provider at the moment. Self-described as offering “Beautiful, free photos. Gifted by the world’s most generous community of photographers,” Unsplash features over 500,000 unique, high-resolution community-submitted photos, and is integrated into many of the tools you probably already know, use and love such as Medium, Trello, FiftyThree, Product Hunt, Adobe, Google, Squarespace, and more.
Since Unsplash is popular, the likelihood of photos being used by other businesses can be quite high. I recommend trying to choose recently added images to reduce the chance of using one that has been around for a long time and used often.
Top tip: Unsplash allows you to create and save collections of photos to use later, which can be really helpful in curating the images that align with your brand’s colour palette and style guide, ensuring that you’re never lost for an on-brand image when you need one for Instagram, a Facebook Ad, or another creative project! I have a Black & White Studios collection, as well as others for different clients or projects.
Pexels claim to have “the best free stock photos & videos shared by talented creators” and while I can’t confirm nor deny that they’re the best, I definitely recommend them. With hundreds of thousands of free stock photos, you’ll be spoilt for choice when looking for the perfect photo.
Top tip: If you find an image that is almost what you’re looking for but not quite, or need more of the same type of image, simply click on the one you like and scroll down to see similar photos. This can take you down a bit of a rabbit hole but it’s a great way to search and really narrow down to get that perfect image. You can do this on Unsplash too!
New Old Stock is a pretty niche site that might not be your cup of tea but is worth a look anyway, and features some hidden gems! Featuring vintage photos from the public archives that are free of known copyright restrictions, New Old Stock’s mission is “recapturing history.” These old-school, vintage photos have a nostalgic charm to them and could be perfect for your brand!
The only downside to New Old Stock is that it’s just a Tumblr page, so there’s no search functionality and it can take a while to trawl through and find that one image that you need, but it’s definitely worth it when you do, and can be a fun distraction!
If you’re looking for something truly unique, Gratisography has you covered. Gratisography describe themselves as “the world's quirkiest collection of free high-resolution pictures, comprised of the world's best, most creative images - photos you just won't find anywhere else. All completely free of copyright restrictions” and they’re not lying! Curating the most weird and wonderful photographs is what they do, and they do it well. While there are “normal” photos on the site, if you’re on the hunt for something fun and maybe a little freaky, Gratisography is the place for you!
Burst is a free stock photo platform that is powered by Shopify. There are thousands of super cool, high-resolution images, with more constantly being shot and uploaded, so you’re never stuck for a great photo to use. Since Burst’s photographer community is invite-only, it means that most of the images are unique to this platform so you won’t be seeing ones you’ve seen anywhere else, and they’ll be different from the ones that everybody uses!
Top Tip: You can do this on any platform with search functionality, but it can be super helpful to search by your brand colours to help keep things on-brand. For example, my brand colours are black, white, orange and grey, so if I don’t have a particular subject in mind, I sometimes search “orange” and choose an image that fits and inspires me! Burst has a great search system so this works especially well here!
If you can afford to spend a bit of money towards photos for your brand, you’re likely to get images that aren’t used as frequently by other businesses, helping you to stand out from the pack and set you apart from other brands. Here are a couple of my favourite paid photo sites.
Death to Stock is a photography library membership that provides unique, inspiring and exquisite images on a subscription basis. When you subscribe to Death to Stock, you will have access to over 3,500 photos, with new packs added every 30 days. Each new pack “explores a different narrative and aesthetic idea with 35+ photos shot solely for use in your projects and campaigns,” so you can download and use the whole pack, or search and choose individual photos from the entire catalogue!
Price: From $12 per month
TONL is a platform focused on creating and sharing culturally diverse and inclusive images that truly represent our communities. As they explain, “Creating an inclusive culture takes both commitment and action. A diverse mix of voices leads to better discussions for everyone,” and I couldn’t agree more! Not only does TONL focus on showcasing the many ethnic backgrounds of everyday people, but the photos are beautifully shot, incredible quality and definitely worth checking out.
Price: From $25 per one-off photo, or $29 per month
There are so many places online for you to find photos for your brand, but these are the ones I use the most and recommend as the best for you to get started with. If you have another fave that you’d love to share, please let me know, otherwise I hope that these help you build your brand through powerful photos!