Before I start singing the praises of these other stock photo sites which require payment of some kind, I must admit that free websites like Unsplash, Pexels, and Pixabay are an amazing resource. I've seen images that rival the kinds one can find on premium sites. Yet the issue is those photos are often used by everyone, making it harder for the stories I write to stand out in a sea of content. Our eyes process an image faster than words. So once an image is overused, readers will just scan over the piece, thinking they read it before.Though I still use Unsplash, I usually will take time to go through several images before picking. Now, I tend to get my photos from other places. I've tried several sites (and recommended others do the same) to find which works for me. Because most are not yearly commitments it's been easy to wade through their selection to discover which was perfect for my needs.
Depositphotos offers a "100 images for $100" deal constantly. That means you can pay once and rest assured that you are getting a unique image that most others won't have for only a dollar. And you have a year to pick all the photos you need, which means as you write those 100 stories, you can get high-quality photos as each month passes into the next. While they used to be known for their photos only, they've amassed a collection of vectors and illustrations and only continue to grow their list of offerings.
What you'll really love about Freepik is their vector graphics. They are simple, but effective in communicating all sorts of messages, saving you the trouble of scrolling through Pexels to find a "couple fight" photo that hasn't been seen 400 times in the last week. The site is also quite cheap in terms of a monthly membership. Although, unlike Depositphotos, you will have to use all your credits during that month since they don't roll over into the next. This might mean you are scrambling to pick future photos during the 11th hour so you don't get charged for a month you don't want. This is a good choice if you are looking for a cheap option with lots of top-notch vectors.
Listen, if any site on this list wins, it has to be Canva Pro. A relatively cheap membership will get you access to countless photos (no credit limit) and to the image creation section where you can use their Pro graphics. As someone who writes bizarre humor, being able to create the exact image I need to match a title saves me lots of frustration. The variety offered by the Canva means you can make charts, find photos, create custom vectors, and so much more. Whenever any new writer is asking me for suggestions, I recommend getting a trial to Canva Pro. And no, this article is not sponsored by Canva, though I would do that in a heartbeat.
The most expensive resource on this list, Adobe Stock offers photos and other images you won't find anywhere else. That high price tag comes from their licensing agreements that guarantee the artist gets paid more than they might on other sites. It also gives Adobe more exclusive distribution rights. To be honest I have some images from them which I got during free trials. This is a plan to go for only if you think you are earning some very good money already and want to really invest in your images.That being said, Adobe did release their new free stock photo section to subscribers. Since I have a Creative Cloud subscription (at the moment) I can search through a large library of free vectors, illustrations, and videos that I can license. So if you are someone who is working with the Adobe software, go and check it out.
One of my favorite resources, this site offers not only very cool collages and retro images, but also mockups like coffee mugs and tee-shirts. I've made good use of these, as well as some vintage vectors they've lovingly assembled. Another relatively cheap monthly fee will give you unlimited downloads, so it's a good if you want something a little more unique and stylized. Plus, even if you don't want to pay forward a premium, they have lots of lovely free resources that you won't find on Canva or Freepik.
Death to Stock Photo
I heard about this from another site and decided to give the free trial a try. The photos are lovely and very moody. They regularly release a themed set that you can download. I'm not going to lie, some of the sets were almost unusable, veering into the realm of the abstract. Closeups on random objects or desks. Mixed in were truly stunning photos though. I highly recommend giving the trial a go yourself to see if this aesthetic is the right fit for you. Like Adobe, these photos aren't offered anywhere else and you know that the artist is being paid well every time you download a set of images.
A very popular choice, Shutterstock is similar to Depositphotos. You pay a fee and get each image for roughly a dollar. Like Depositphotos there are all sorts of great, hard-to-find pictures that can capture your article's point perfectly. In particular, if you are writing what might be termed as "adult content" this might be the site for you. However, unlike Depositphotos, you have to use up all your credits during the month you are subscribed. So you will have to make a decision at the end of the month whether you want to keep your membership or quickly download the remaining photos before canceling.
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