Tip Tuesday 001: Finding [Free] Stock Photos That Don't Suck


Each brand has a unique story. It’s our job to start that story with good design. Then, continue to support that story with beautiful, authentic images. 

Whether or not we want to admit it, we all need stock photos at one point or another. Sometimes clients don’t have a good or expansive photography library. Sometimes we need placeholders that will help show a client how an unfinished project can look once completed. Regardless of the reason, no designer wants to sift through the 26,000 shitty images on Shutterstock just to find one or two that aren’t completely terrible, much less they fit the layout you’re looking for.

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This doesn’t happen in an office. IN ANY OFFICE. No. Just no.

Lucky for you, we’ve pulled together a few resources that can help you complete any graphic design project you’ve got going on.

1. Pexels


Pexels is one of our favorite online resources for royalty-free stock photos. The images are all donated by real, current photographers, and it shows. The artistry, composition, and editing results in professional photos that actually evoke emotion. Perfect for mood boards or hero images, Pexels is usually our first go-to when looking for assets. While they don’t have a super expansive library for more specific categories, they have tons of people-based images. They also have rolled out a video version, found here.

2. Unsplash


Unsplash is a lot like Pexels, in fact, a lot of the photographers that contribute to Pexels also contribute photos to Unsplash. There are lots of other photographers on Unsplash too though, so if you like the aesthetic from Pexels, but can’t seem to find what you want there, check Unsplash!


3. Pixabay


Arguably one of the largest resources for royalty-free imagery, Pixabay offers a less curated aesthetic, but still features high quality imagery. It definitely has more of a stock photo feel, but with over 1.5 million photos and videos to choose from, they’re bound to have something for any design project.

4. Death to Stock


With a name like “Death to Stock”, you know this group is offering only the raddest and most edgy groups of images out there. This one works a little different than other stock sites; They work with photographers around the world to produce photo packs monthly. Each pack explores a different narrative and aesthetic idea, and you won’t find them anywhere else. You can subscribe to the free option which emails you a photo pack every 30 days. You have to download it within that month though, otherwise you can’t access those photos anymore. We always download the packs each month, and save whatever imagery we think we can use for future projects. They also have paid subscription options that give you access to their 2,500+ image library (all previous photo packs and more) that is constantly growing.


5. Lorem Picsum


Using photos from Unsplash, this site lets you get high quality imagery at the exact dimensions you need with simple commands added to the end of the URL. It’s great for any kind of placeholder imagery, taking the editing work out of it for you!

Hopefully, this list will help you NOT stab your eyes out the next time you’re sent to search for the perfect image. Make sure you subscribe to our blog if you’re down for more tips like this, branding case studies, freebies, or our list of favorite pizza joints, by entering your email below!