If you create content for social media, then you know it’s a challenge to finding good, affordable stock photos. And as with most things in life and business, you get what you pay for.

The trade off between free and paid is about high quality vs. low quality AND it’s also about the time spent searching – you spend a lot of time looking through dogs to find a winner.

In this post I’ll show you my three favorite sources that have very high quality photos and excellent search functionality.

I’ve used a variety of stock photo sources over the years.

I started with iStockPhoto  (2006-2010), before they got too expensive.

I used FeaturePics after that as a cheap alternative, but the quality was fair.

I now use DepositPhotos.com and DeathtotheStockPhoto.com for paid photos.

In the past there were few places to find good quality photos with Creative Commons licencing.

Creative Commons is basically a license that allows others to use a piece of copyrighted material subject to certain limitations. This could be a simple attribution or a restriction not to modify or use the work commercially. To learn more about Creative Commons licensing visit their website, which will explain all the different licensing levels.

As time went on the quantity of high quality photos available with Creative Commons licensing grew. I started using CC photos from either Pixabay or Flickr.

However, these are not my favorite in terms of quality and search functionality.

Here my three favorite sources for free, stock photos with Creative Commons Licenses.

Search.CreativeCommons.org

Go straight to the source and use the Creative Commons Search engine (which is not really a search engine, but rather a meta search engine – a search engine that searches other search engines).

By using this you can choose which sources you’d like to search and the appropriate licensing. Then this search will go out to the different sources and do your search with the appropriate licensing.

This great for music and video, in addition to photos.

500px

I believe 500px started out as a photo sharing community for photographers that was an alternative to Flickr.

However, they have since added a marketplace where you can purchase rights to photos, a variety of curated collections, and a huge collection of Creative Commons photos with different licensing levels.

Typically the photos here are professionally enhanced. This gives them a “professional” look… surprise, surprise! Sometimes this is what you’re looking for and sometimes it’s not.

If you’re looking for a more natural, retro look, check out Unsplash.

Unsplash

Unsplash.com is my favorite of the three!

These are the kind of photos I like to use for my own branding and social media. They are similar in style to the photos from DeathtotheStockPhoto.com.

They have curated collections that are awesome!

And all the photos are made available with the Creative Commons Zero license, which makes available for any use (including commercial) with no attribution. This makes them infinitely useful.

Gone are the days when you could bemoan the lack of good Creative Commons photos. Use wisely and generously attribute to show appreciation to the photographers.

Most of all keep making great content!

P.S. I’m just going to keep adding good sources to the end of this post!

  • Here is one that is great for svg files, https://openclipart.org/
  • Awesome photos for blog posts here, http://morguefile.com/