It doesn’t cost a fortune to have great stock photos

Compelling imagery is essential to drawing customers into your product or service. People make snap judgements — in fact, you only have eight seconds to capture their attention — and if the header photo on your website looks dated, cheesy, or irrelevant, they’re going to bail immediately. Also, having great imagery plays a big role in helping customers identify with your brand.

You want your imagery to speak to your customer. They should feel a sense of belonging (“I want to be part of this community”), desire (“If, I use this product, I’ll have a life like that”), or empathy (“If I contribute, I’ll help that person”). Keep your core audience in mind and select images that are relevant to them.

When selecting photos for your projects, you have a few options:

  1. Steal images from the internet. After all, the internet is huge and who will ever find out? (Just kidding, that’s a terrible idea, and there are bots looking for careless, cheap, and naive individuals just like you.)
  2. Pay a photographer to take custom images just for you. This can be a great option if you need very specific product shots or coverage of an event. However, expect to pay $500+ for any custom photography.
  3. Use stock photos.

Until recently, stock photos were either really bad or really expensive. Luckily, times have changed. There’s a wealth of great stock photo resources out there that are either free or cheap — you just have to know where to look.

Here are the free stock photo resources we occasionally use when mocking up projects:

  • stocksnap.io — Wide variety of images.
  • fancycrave.com — Two new images released every day, along with downloadable photo packs by theme.
  • unsplash.com — 10 new photos every 10 days. Focuses mostly on travel photos.
  • negativespace.co — 20 new photos every week. Has a wide variety of images sortable by type.
  • lifeofpix.com — Great source for photos of people and animals.
  • images.superfamous.com — One of the few places for abstract aerial photos.
  • nos.twnsnd.co — Vintage photos from the public archive.
  • jaymantri.com — Artistic landscape and architecturale images from Jay Mantri.
  • gratisography.com — Tons of great portraits from Ryan McGuire

Even though the free stock resources are really fantastic, sometimes you need to search for something more specific. Here are a few options for stock photo subscriptions that we consider to have the best value:

Adobe Stock

$29.99/Month for Creative Cloud Members ($49.99 for non-members) Includes 10 images per month and $2.99 for each additional Image.

Shutterstock

$169/Month Includes 350 images per month

iStock Photo

$166.58/Month Includes 750 images per month (Limited to istockphoto “Essentials” collection)

Nothing beats having an amazing photographer come out and capture the perfect images for you, but if you can’t afford that or time doesn’t permit it, do yourself a huge favor and use great stock images. Finally, keep these three tips in mind when selecting your photos:

  1. Use the right image size. Never, ever, put a photo on your website that is pixelated, or enlarged past the point it was intended for.
  2. Choose photos that relate. Select photos that your target audience can identify with.
  3. Don’t use the wrong photo. Simply put, if you think the photo isn’t right, keep looking. It’s much better to wait to launch your website with the right photos than it is to make a bad first impression.