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  • Writer's pictureNat Sharp

How to make the most of free photo libraries

Updated: Oct 16, 2021

Printed photos and a cup of coffee

With social media, blogs and customer newsletters, we all are frantically trying to find good quality and original photographs. If you are a small business owner, commissioning photo shoots is simply too expensive.

Thankfully, if you can't afford to invest in photography, there are many high-quality free photo libraries or ‘stock shots’ we can use for all our marketing requirements.

Here are my favourite websites which make image sourcing painless and quick. All of these websites are licensed under Creative Commons Zero with the exception of freepik. This means they provide users with the freedom to copy, modify, distribute, and use all of the photos without permissions or attribution.

1. Unsplash

Unsplash is a tried and tested site for many of us with up to 300 new images uploaded each day. It doesn’t contain cheesy cliche photography and is my go to photo library for my daily requirements.

2. Pexels

Pexels has over 5k photos which are carefully handpicked from a variety of free image sources to ensure that you're getting only the best of the best. It also has good search functionality.

3. Pixabay

Pixabay has over 50k images. It has very high-quality images. The search function allows you to filter down by media type, orientation, colour, and minimum dimensions.

4. Freepik

My latest discovery and thousands of more creative shots. Freepik is definitely one to use but you do need to attribute the author.

My top tips to ensure you get your photography right and achieve a high quality look:

  • Ensure you select the right file size. If you're going to use on your website, you don’t want to slow down the loading speed of your site with large file sizes. Word Press gives some useful tips.

  • If you’re using the imagery for social media, think about the different formats and the image size required. Remember Instagram is in a square format. Sprout is a great up to date free resource.

  • Select imagery which compliments your brand. Think about the colours, overall composition of the shot and brightness and try to remain consistent in your style. Ideally you will have brand guidelines for your business which cover photography and the imagery you can and can't use to ensure consistent and build a consistent brand image.

For more tips on marketing, feel free to visit my blog the sharp end. Also have a look at my tips on personal branding, brand positioning and brand colours.

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