Where to Find Free Diverse Stock Photos
The other morning I received a phone call from a client regarding the newsletter layout I was working on. “This is great,” he started, “but can we use a header image that has less white people?” Honestly, this was great news. I agreed with him fully, and only selected the image I had because of deadlines and the fact that I was working on eight different newsletters for the same organization. Some of them had more diverse banner images and some did not.
The main issue is that it is not easy to find free stock photos that do not contain mostly young(ish), thin, white people. Especially for this project where I needed photos that fall under the tags of “business, work, corporate, etc.”
Representation is extremely important, and as people tasked with creating this sort of content it is our duty to make sure all types of people are seen. To help with that I have compiled a list of free stock photo resources (in no particular order), that are either focused specifically on representation or at least make a serious effort to do so.
1 | The Gender Spectrum Collection: Stock Photos Beyond the Binary
Coincidentally this great collection was just launched a few days ago. It is fairly small at the moment, but again, it is brand new. It does have lots of photos of trans and non-binary people doing normal, everyday activities. This is important because the aim is to use these photos for articles about anything, not just gender issues. The photos are free and available under the creative commons license.
2 | Nappy.co
Nappy is a great resource. The site’s description puts it perfectly, “Beautiful, high-res photos of black and brown people. For free.” This site is seriously full of gorgeous photos that you can use for anything you want. You do not even need to give credit when using, although it is always encouraged.
3 | Rawpixel
Rawpixel has a massive, wonderful collection of stock photos that, while they still feature a slightly higher percentage of white people, they do have a lot of diversity in their photos. They are of high quality and under the free license. They have a tiered payment plan, but the lowest tier is free. It offers a limited amount of downloads per month, but they have bonuses if you get your friends/coworkers to sign up. A lot of their free images are also available on Unsplash, which is helpful if you run out of your monthly download limit.
4 | CreateHER Stock
CreateHER is a stock photo website that focuses mainly on black women, like most of the sites listed here it was born out of frustration at the serious lack of representation. It is mostly a pay site, which really you should pay people for their hard work, but they do have a decent sized collection of free images. Their very clear and straight forward licensing information can be found here.
5 | Women of Color in Tech
Women of Color in Tech is a flickr gallery with over five hundred photos that are free to use as long as you attribute them to #wocintechchat or WOCinTechChat.com it is perfect for use in articles. While the WOC in Tech Chat website has closed up, they still keep the gallery open for people to use.
6 | Unsplash
Is it safe to assume most people already know about Unsplash? Tons of high quality free to use images. The best part is anyone can sign up and submit their photos so there is a huge variety from all over the world and they tend to not have that stiff, stock photo look. If you are someone who takes lots of photos this is a great place to contribute since it is so heavily used.
7 | Canva
Canva is a large photo library that is full of both free images and ones that are available for purchase. Much like Unsplash anyone can sign up and submit their photos, so it is a great way to increase visibility. And unlike Unsplash, if you would like to charge a little money for your photos you can. The free photo section is huge, but a little hard to really search for specific things, you sort of just have to keep scrolling through pages and hope to find what you want. It is worth the effort though, the photos are great and they also feature a lot of photos of people with disabilities, which are even harder to find.
8 | Jopwell
Jopwell is “The leading career advancement platform for Black, Latinx, and Native American students and professionals.” As part of that they have their own stock photo collection that anyone is free to use as long as they credit Jopwell when using their photos. The collection is pretty big and full of great photos that are mostly work-place related.
9 | Picnoi
Picnoi has almost six hundred stock photos that focus on people of color. It has a great mixture of all kinds of people that are free to use, even for commercial use. The only thing is the website itself is a bit sluggish, but if you can deal with that this is a very useful gallery.