Visual marketing is a crucial part of marketing your business. Images and photos not only catch the eye of readers, but they evoke emotions and connections toward a company. One of the biggest hurdles small business owners face is finding high quality photos that are visually appealing to customers, free to use, and don’t infringe on copyright laws.
If you struggle finding images for your business blog and social media, then this information is for you. This post features 6 of the best websites where you can get copyright free stock photos for marketing your small business. So ditch paying for obvious stock photos and check out these sites!
What are Stock Photos?
Stock photos are professional quality pictures made available to the internet for advertising and commercial use. While many stock photo sites cost money, there are plenty of free options that serve the same purpose. Some stock photos have restrictions on use or modifications, or they may require attribution. None of the sites listed here require attribution.
We use a variety of free stock photo websites for our own blog posts and want to share our favorites with you! Here is a list of the best copyright free stock photo options and the types of small businesses that could benefit from each site.
Pexels is an aggregated collection of handpicked stock photos that adds pictures weekly. The photos on Pexels come from several different websites, which eliminates the need to browse through multiple sites. Pexels’s photos tend to be more traditional “stock photos” in that the scenes are often very similar and basic in composition. The pictures have high quality and are visually appealing—even in the most boring settings.
Types of businesses that should use Pexels
Pexels has good pictures for consulting and technology companies as there is a variety of pictures to depict a workspace. While the majority of the pictures tend to be business related (featuring technology products and office space settings), there is also beautiful nature scenery and random pleasures of everyday life. Nature pictures are great for inspirational quotes to motivate people on Instagram —perfect for businesses like fitness centers, educational tutors, salons and spas.
Pictures found on Gratisography are not your traditional stock photos—these pictures tend to be more unique and on occasion, humorous. The scenes are modern, relatable, and generally have a quirky aspect. Although you can narrow the pictures down into categories, the site does not have a search option which can be frustrating if you are looking for something specific.
Types of businesses that should use Gratisography
Gratisography can be great for any company looking to brighten their customers day with a quirky picture. Generally, law firms, consulting companies, or technology companies want to stay on the serious side and should stay away from using these for their business. But if your business has a good sense of humor, like a fitness center, restaurant, bar, or coaching, then Gratisography could be a good option for you! The picture collection is enjoyable to look through and you are bound to find a great shot if you are looking for something on the funnier, more unusual side.
StockSnap is an aggregator similar to Pexels, but it houses a much larger database of photos. So, while you may see some of the same pictures pertaining to a search, there are a lot more options. The advantage of this is a greater selection, but the options are less specific so you may spend some more time searching if you’re looking for a particular type of photo.
Types of businesses that should use StockSnap
StockSnap has good pictures for companies in the medical field such as dentists or chiropractors as well as consulting or technology companies. Because they also have countless nature pictures, companies such as hotels or travel agents can use these to motivate customers to book a vacation. Spa or salons can use quiet landscapes to portray a relaxing feel. Nevertheless, Stocksnap is a great resource and go-to site for stock photography.
Not just an online photo site, morgueFile is also a type of social network as it offers an interactive classroom and community to discuss and learn about photography. Users can upload and share their own photos to the site. While the pictures are noticeably more unique in the search results compared to Pexels or Stocksnap (users can upload and tag photos) the photos may be a lower quality than the ones on other sites. Due to the number of photos on the site, the results can take a while to flip through.
The differentiating factor because morgueFile and other free stock photo sites is an editing feature. MorgueFile allows users to edit pictures, such as cropping, before they download. This saves time editing photos after download, which is important.
Types of businesses that should use morgueFile
morgueFile has good pictures for real estate agents as well as bed and breakfasts or hotels. Many of the pictures are inviting scenes that might entice customers looking for an agent or an escape on vactation. morgueFile is a great place to find less traditional pictures for your marketing efforts.
On New Old Stock you will find a selection of vintage pictures ranging from years ago. These are all online versions of pictures from years ago. If old photos don’t fit into your marketing strategy, it can still be fun to look through these “throwback” pictures. Despite that, New Old Stock doesn’t have a search option, so finding something specific relies on scrolling through the entire archive.
Types of businesses that should use New Old Stock
New Old Stock has good pictures for small businesses that want to portray a community feel. Anyone from car dealers to restaurants and educational institutions to recreation businesses can use New Old Stock photos. The pictures are unique gems that will spark up your visual marketing if they fit with the theme of your business marketing.
Foter not only allows you to search through millions of stock photos, but it allows you to upload your own! The pictures on Foter may resonate more with customers because they’re photos that users submit; not flashy stock photos. One downside of user uploads however is that photos may be lower quality than some other sites. While they may appear lower quality, the resolution is still good and the picture collection is very large and useful. You won’t find any terrible quality, out of focus shots.
Types of businesses that should use Foter
Foter is great for businesses looking for pictures that don’t scream “stock photo”. Foter has good pictures for daycare centers, preschools, and health care establishments like nutritionists. Because of the user upload feature, Foter is especially good for businesses looking to connect with their customers on a more personal level.
All of these sites offer pictures free from all copyright restrictions. Regardless of the website, it’s still important to read the licensing terms of the images you use in order to attribute it appropriately. Many sites don’t require attribution, but some smaller ones may. As a general rule, it’s always a good idea to double check when using any stock photos, as terms and conditions sometimes change.
It’s important to be authentic in marketing so any chance you get to use a picture of your business should take priority over using stock photos. If you’re a restaurant owner, use pictures of your own food. If you’re an interior decorator, feature your own designs! But if you don’t have the time or resources, check these websites out.