Let's get straight to the point.
Sucky stock images = a sucky online vibe.
And nobody in the business of business wants that.
What you DO want is knock-your-socks-off images that help you create a brand and website you're happy to show off.
Thankfully, there are a tonne of very generous photographers and creatives taking and sharing (for free in most cases) great stock photography.
Here's a list of resources where you can get amazing, original, non-sucky images for your website and blog. Some are free, while others do require payment for images.
The Gold Mine
I've curated a list of sites that are easy to search, have high resolution stock, don't require sign up or membership to download, are free of charge and royalty free. Where there is a charge, I have made a note.
* Please, however always check the licensing requirements on every image you download and use.
- Finda.photo - probably my favourite site. FindaPhoto aggregates thousands of free CC0 licensed stock photos. The best part of this site is the "search by colour" function. Select a colour and it will serve up a selection of photos containing that colour. It will also give you a colour palette based on a single image.
- Stocksy: The one site on this list that requires payment for images. Once paid however, they are royalty free.
Death to The Stock Photo - subscribe to receive free and original image packs straight to your email every month or sign up to DTSP premium service ($15 per month) and access a growing library of groovy images.
Unsplash - Unsplash serves up 10 new free, hi-res photos every 10 days. As one of the most popular free stock sites out there, once you know about Unsplash you may start to see their images being used by many sites out there. A trick for quicker search across the Unsplash catalogue, go to http://www.resplashed.com/.
Gratis Photography - all images on Gratis are taken by the site's creator, visual artist and funster, Ryan McGuire. Search by a range of topics through his collection of quirky, but top notch photos.
Jay Mantri - Jay Mantri's photography is moody, spacious and magical. Taking lots of expansive nature shots with a special ode to black and white, Jay releases seven new photos every week.
Cupcake - a small collection of hi-res nature inspired shots by Swedish native Jonas Nillson Lee.
Pexels - Pexels has a wide range of great stock photography, including an extensive hi-res vintage collection. Pexels also gives you the break down of how the image was taken, as well as a colour palette for the image.
Realistic Shots - a great collection of shots in hi-res. 7 new photos uploaded each week.
MMT - if you are looking for macro photography of flowers, then MMT.li is the place to go.
Picography - Picography serves up bright, bold urban inspired images. Free to use and download.
Barn Images - Barn Images release free hi-res stock images, as well as premium packs that don't appear in their free stuff. Each month, they put out a "best of" post, collating the most popular downloads of the month.
Freejpg - with more than 7,500 hi-res images on their site, Freejpg has an extensive collection to choose from.
DesignersPics - at first glance, Designer Pics stands out as taking crisp, clear object-based photos. Free to download and use.
Epicantus - Epicantus is the pet project of a UX Designer and Lean Startup coach, who recognised a need for high quality landing page and prototype design images. He's carefully created a gallery of free hi-res images to help you create things quickly, without sacrificing on beautiful aesthetics.
Life of Pix - a beautiful, bold, easy to search gallery of images created by an advertising agency in Montreal - free to download and use.
Morgue File - one of the oldest and most extensive image libraries on the web. Searching is super easy - make sure you check the licensing of each photo (they aren't all CC0)
New Old Stock - a cotterie of vintage photographs from the public domain archives (free of any known copyrights). Take a trip back in time with this collection that recaptures history.
Pic Jumbo - PicJumbo is cool on a number of levels. As well as an extensive collection of images, you can pay to integrate PicJumbo into Photoshop so you can simply click on any image within the app and create a new PS layer. Also, you can take images for a "test drive" and see them in a range of design scenarios.
Splash Base - Splash Base is an aggregate search and discovery platform for a range of free stock photo sites (many of which are listed here).
Split Shire - Split Shire has a wonderful collection of high quality artistic photographs. From Bokeh to blurred backgrounds, you are sure to find the perfect image.
Stokpic - Stockpic is a collection of photos exclusive to the site and generated from the photographers collection of images.
Travel Coffee Book - as the name suggests, these photographs could all make it into the pages of a travel coffee book. Sharing beautiful travel moments inspired by landscapes, people and panoramas from around the world.
Startup Stock Photos - inspired by the tech start-up scene, this collection of photos takes you into the centre of what it means to create tech products from the ground up.
Foodies Feed - a feast for the eyes of foodies everywhere. Foodies Feed serves up realistic and very yummy looking food photography. Download all the images into a Dropbox folder for $6 and have lifetime access to all the photos in the folder as soon as they are added.
A short and sweet explanation on image licensing (aka what you can and can't do with certain image rights).
When it comes to using, reproducing and sharing images from the web, it's important to check the licensing agreement associated with the image.
Most of the sites listed below fall under the CC0 license, which frees content globally without restrictions. However some images may carry license terms such as a requirement to reference the source of the image etc.
This article explains the various levels of image licensing under the Creative Commons regulations.
Hope this helps and here's to rocking your BOLD brand with some killer stock images!