All graphic designers and people trying to create eye-catching imagery for print or web with have at some point used stock photography.
Stock photography negates the need for hiring expensive photographers can license individual photos for specific uses. The two largest traditional stock photography agencies are Getty Images and Corbis. They offer mostly photographs that have been shot by professional photographers. But these are still quite expensive for a freelance graphic designer as individual images can cost hundreds of dollars.
Meanwhile there are many alternative agencies like Shutterstock, Fotolia and, the one all my clients seem to know iStockphoto (acquired by Getty Images in 2006 although both businesses are kept visually separate). Since these agencies charge less ($1 to $20 per image) this is called sometimes called microstock photography.
However, hardworking graphic designers may need photographs as place holders or for different options to show a client before they have decided on a finished version. Who would want to spend money on something that may never see the light of day? This is where free stock photography comes in!
Here is my personal list of free stock photography sites.
- stock.xchng The best and most reliable for me. Some of the free images are large enough to use for print. Some are of excellent quality. Log in necessary.
- morgueFile I haven’t use them for long but I have found some impressive and large images here. No login necessary.
- FreeFoto Not fantastic. Email address required.
- FreeDigitalPhotos OK. Small web images only. No login necessary.
- ImageAfter I’ve just started using them but they seem good. You can choose the number of thumbnails viewable on page. Some nice large images. No login necessary
- indisain.com Annoying website in terms of usability but good quality large images.
- PhotoBucket Good, large selection. Small web images only. No login necessary.
Other sources of free imagery on the internet
Also you can turn a photo into an illustration using Illustrator’s Live Trace function, Photoshop filters or by whatever other means. But, again, it will be always necessary to check the images’ copyright first!
I hope you found my list of free photo sources helpful. What do you do when searching for free quality stock photography?