If you’ve spent any time searching stock photography websites for beautiful, eye-catching images, you know that disappointment, confusion and frustration are part of the process. For example, you may be looking for the perfect image to accompany a blog post about traveling to Aruba, but the best you can find is a strange, creepy and barely related image like this:
Thanks, but no thanks.
Luckily the days of trite, cliché and sub-par images have come to an end. We live in a new digital world, one where individuals, businesses and companies are finally able to find high-quality images that reflect the diverse, fascinating and creative world we live in – if they know where to look. If you need perfect graphics to accompany a tweet, highlight a new product, or define a client’s mission, I suggest beginning your search with the following cutting-edge sources.
Death to the Stock Photo
Death to the Stock Photo was started by two photographers who were disappointed by the types of stock photography their fellow creators were using in their marketing campaigns, advertising efforts and online spaces. They decided to be proactive and fix this unsightly problem by sharing their own images instead. Today, Death to the Stock Photo offers email subscribers free packs of images each month, as well as themed photo packs to paying members. The collections range from “Working from Home,” to “Surf’s Up,” to “Tea and Toast.” There are also a bunch of location-specific packs, taken by the founders while on various road trips. As an added bonus, most photos come with the story behind the image, which helps jump-start the creative process and adds a layer of authenticity to these one-of-a-kind images.
The Commons is a partnership between Flickr and a long list of participating libraries, museums and cultural institutions around the world. The key goal of the project is to share hidden treasures from the world’s public photography archives, which means you can use these images however you want, no questions asked. While many of the photos in these collections are scientific, cultural or academic, they’re a great resource for interesting and eye-catching images that will definitely set your business or product apart. And did I mention that they’re free?
Stocksy is a co-operative that’s owned and run by its artists. The website invites photographers with a similar aesthetic to join the site as contributors and offer their images through the Stocksy site. Images will run you between $10 and $100 for royalty-free licenses at various sizes, and they also offer extended licenses. While these prices might seem a bit higher than some other stock photography sites, you pay for what you get. In the case of Stocksy, that’s a curated collection of beautiful photos taken by talented artists, which means you won’t have to waste time scrolling through endless pages of terrible images to find one that doesn’t completely offend your eyes. In other words, it’s worth it.
The Lean In Collection at Getty Images
iStock by Getty Images is the web’s original resource for crowd sourced royalty-free stock images, media and design elements, offering millions of hand-picked photos, illustrations, videos and audio tracks. Recently, the company partnered with Lean In, a nonprofit founded by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, to create the Lean In Collection, a series of photos that are “devoted to celebrating powerful images of women, girls and the communities who support them.” While stock photography might not seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things, it has an invisible power all its own. As Jessica Bennett, contributing editor at LeanIn.org, said in a press release, “The stock imagery around women is embarrassing. You can't be what you can't see, so if women and girls are not seeing images of powerful women and girls who are leaders, then they may not aspire to become that."
In addition to these images of women at work, home and play, Lean In recently released a second collection, which showcases the diversity of love and family that isn’t often seen in mainstream media. From interracial couples to LGBT families, these images are an attempt to better reflect the realities of today’s world.
I can’t think of anything more unappetizing than bad food photography, and yet there’s so much of it out there. From poor lighting to sloppy plates, it can be hard to make meals look as good as they taste. That’s why FoodieFeed made it their goal to create a catalog of free, high-resolution photos directly related to food. Jakub Kapusnak created the site in April 2014 as a personal project, and since then it’s become a great resource for food-related images, most of which are freely available via Dropbox. Delicious!
Bottom line: it’s 2015, and there’s no excuse for sullying your otherwise beautiful website with sub-par stock photography. With a little creativity, you can find unique and inspiring images that capture the essence of your business or brand. If you need help navigating this exciting new world, contact Sage Island. When it comes to the perfect image, our team of designers knows exactly what to look for.
Mike Duncan co-founded Sage Island in 1997, and since then has evolved the agency’s scope to include marketing strategy, creative design, technical development and a wide range of digital marketing services. With an integrated approach that leverages the power and measurability of the internet, the savvy Sage Island team develops strategies, builds brands, writes killer copy and delivers to clients all over the world. And they have an awesome time doing it. Sage’s collaborative working environment keeps creativity and innovation at the heart of the concept. With a 17-year history in Wilmington and beyond, Sage Island shows no signs of slowing down. To learn how Sage Island can grow your business, check us out at www.sageisland.com. To stay updated on the latest in digital marketing, follow Sage Island on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SageIsland, and on Twitter at twitter.com/SageIsland.
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