Nothing will set your website apart quite like high-quality engaging photos. The photos on your website are often what people will notice first when visiting your website. They help set the mood, let your visitors know what to expect, simply add some visual interest to complement your content. But not everyone has the resources, whether that’s time, money, or equipment, to create their own photos. That’s where stock photos can come in handy.
Not all stock photos are created equal. There is a big variety in quality and selection, and some stock photo websites may not be a good fit for everyone. Here is a selection of stock photo websites, split up into several different categories, that may help you on your journey to find the perfect photos for your website.
High-End Options ($50+ per picture)
The high-end stock photo websites are the cream of the crop. The selection is huge, and the quality is great. There are also subscription plans that can help bring down the investment, and get you more bang for your buck. The other thing to consider with the high-end options, especially with Getty Images, is that there are more hoops to jump through when it comes to licensing your images. You’ll want to be sure and read the fine print on the licensing for each particular photo, and make sure the way you’re using it fits the terms of the license.
Mid-Range Options ($15-$50 per picture, high-end for expanded licenses)
The mid-range options are still very high-quality, but a little more in the affordable range. Some photos on iStock and Shutterstock can definitely reach up into the high-end price range, though, so you may have to work a little harder to find cheaper photos.
Low-End Options (Less than $10 per picture)
These low-end options are affordable to nearly everyone. Web resolution pictures can be purchased for around $1 each (via credits). The quality takes a slight dip, compared to the high-end and mid-range option, but they are still often much better than what you could find on a free stock photo website.
You know what they say about free, right? You get what you pay for. These options can be a bit hit-or-miss, but if you are creative enough with your keyword searches, you may find a diamond in the rough.
Photo Newsletters, Etc.
These resources are more geared toward designers. Public Domain Archive blogs periodically with various stock photos, while the other two send periodic stock photo newsletters that you can use for any of your projects. All of these are great for adding to your designer resource stockpile (that’s a thing, right?).
Once you’ve found the perfect photo, be sure to purchase it at the correct size. If you’re planning on using the photo in print work in the future, buy the highest resolution version of the photo so it will look great at all sizes. If you’re just using it on your blog, the smallest web resolution size will be perfect. And remember, although there are tons of awesome stock resources out there, there is no real substitute for having a professional photographer take unique photos for your business or organization.