We’re living in a Golden Age of Access in many ways. The Internet has not only revolutionised business and communication, it’s also made many things easily accessible to everyone that once required specialised training or at the very least specialised knowledge. In short, you had to know where to even look, and even then the requirement that everything be communicated via print made the process difficult.
Consider stock images: Once you had to know how to acquire thick, heavy catalogues of images, and acquiring the images was an expensive and time-consuming chore. Today, however, a huge number of stock images can be found online with a simple search.
That doesn’t mean stock images are affordable, however, and a quick review of the most prominent stock image sources will reveal that your marketing piece, web site design, or other project can quickly ring up a serious price tag devoted solely to stock image acquisition. Remember, you can’t simply use any old image you find online, even if it’s high-quality, because you likely don’t have the rights to it, which could lead to legal problems down the line.
The good news is, there are many resources for free stock images on the Internet, sites that offer rights-cleared and royalty-free images that you can use. While some of these images won’t be of professional quality, a surprising number are.
Some of the best sources for cost-free stock images include
- FreeImages (www.freeimages.com): Operated by iStockPhoto, this website has tens of thousands of images under various licenses, all offered free of charge (a free account must be created). Note that you have to review the rights offered; some image owners require credit, while others do not.
- Flickr (www.flickr.com): Flickr maintains a public domain pool of images that can be used by anyone for any reason. You can find the pool at https://www.flickr.com/groups/publicdomain/pool/. Locating the precise image you need can be difficult, but it’s a great resource to investigate.
- StockSnap (stocksnap.io): All of StockSnap’s photos are offered under a no-attribution Creative Commons license, which allows you to use the images freely, at no cost, without offering any credit.
- Unsplash (unsplash.com): Offering photos under the Creative Commons public domain license, Unsplash has a smaller pool of photos, but they are all of very high quality.
- New Old Stock (nos.twnsnd.co): Need vintage and old-school free photos? New Old Stock offers plenty, all free of copyright restrictions. Ideal for giving your marketing that patina of age.
The web is literary filled with stock photo websites, but most require a paid subscription or that you purchase specific rights, and even some of the free sites only offer limited rights or require royalty payments. The sites listed here have immense collections and should be your first stop, because if you find your photo needs here you don’t need to pay for them at all. And that is the smartest marketing move you can make.