Stock photos may have a negative connotation, but for me, they’re an important part of web design. I have a mantra I tell to each of my clients before we begin designing a website. “You don’t need a GREAT website. You need a GOOD website with GREAT images.”
It’s not that I’m trying to tell them or myself short. What I mean is that most modern WordPress templates take care of all of your technical requirements. They are mostly well optimized for SEO and responsive to mobile and different screen sizes. There really is no good reason today to design a website from scratch. Instead, your time is better spent looking for great images to fill in the placeholders in the template.
The best photos are from your organization, showing your services, and highlighting the people you serve. But if you’re just starting out you may not have a large media library to choose from and will need to resort to stock photos. As good stewards of digital data, we should avoid (intentionally or unintentionally) violating a copyright on a photo. That’s where license free photos come in handy. Photographers upload their stock imagery to different websites and grant you permission to download them, use them on your website, and edit them as you see fit. Some may ask for donations in return.
Four great websites for stock photos
- Pexels – This was the first stock image website I found and used. And you will see many of the images there as featured photos on my blog posts.
- Unsplash – As I started to blog about the same topics again and again, I started looking for variety in images and topics to choose from, and that’s when I found Unsplash.
- Pixabay – Nowadays I search all three of these sites to find just the right image to portray the emotion I’m going for. You can use them for anything from print to web to social.
- Vice Media – This last example fills a niche that other stock photo sites typically do not. They host images of gender fluid, non-binary, trans or queer people. If you are trying to reach this audience, it is a great place to find a few stock images that are more inclusive.
Take these websites for a spin and use them without losing sleep about a copyright infringement. From PowerPoint decks to social media posts, sometimes it’s just too much to rely solely on photos you and your organization have taken. Happy hunting!