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Graphic Design on a dime: 10 free stock photo sites we love!

 

The best flyer designs begin with stellar source materials. Crisp, clear, high-resolution photographs help enhance your layout and give your message a visual boost. Many designers use their Adobe Creative Cloud subscriptions to access Adobe Stock images, or pore through Flickr to try to find suitable photos with Creative Commons licenses — but there are some formidable alternatives. Here are ten fabulous free stock photo sites packed with great images for commercial and personal use.

Pexels

Founded in 2014 by Bruno Joseph and Ingo Joseph, Pexels plays host to tens of thousands of royalty-free photographs. Each month, Pexels staff members examine user submissions and add over 3,000 hand-picked images to the site’s lineup. Before including photographs, the Pexels team ensures that they come with a Creative Commons Zero license, so you can use them for any purpose. If you enjoy Pexels’ mission and have the means to do so, you can submit your own photographs or support the website via PayPal.

Unsplash

Unsplash emerged from the relative cacophony of a Tumblr blog in 2014 and quickly morphed into an inspirational photographic source for both celebrities and clandestine graphics professionals. Chic and easy to use, Unsplash has a conveniently large search bar at the top of its title page. Elegantly presented search results, which are broken into keyword-centric categories, make it simple to find what you’re looking for. Just click on an image to get a high-resolution preview and then download the photograph to include it in your design.

Life of Pix

Created by the Leeroy Advertising Agency in Montreal, Life of Pix offers its users free high-resolution images for professional or private use. Leeroy’s own photographers showcase their skills on the site, which also includes submissions from other users around the world. Browse newly added photographs or use the search bar to find a specific subject in seconds, and then download the photo via a one-click process. You don’t even need an account. Each photograph includes a digital color block, which links to pictures tagged with similar hues to make your design process easier.

Fancycrave

Organized by category and arranged in an easy-to-view grid, the photographs on Fancycrave ooze class. Taken in a range of countries, including Cambodia, Thailand and Japan, these images offer an authentic glimpse into other cultures, making them ideal for travel-based and educational flyers. Established by photographer and designer Igor Ovsyannykov in 2015, Fancycrave provides visitors with an alternative to traditional stock photography sites. Ovsyannykov publishes two brand new high-resolution pictures on the website every day, which you can download without logging in.

Freerange

Visit Freerange for an exclusive selection of pro-quality photographs, which you can use in commercial projects without attribution. Gathered from shots taken by Freerange’s own photographers and also from submissions made by Freerange users, the photos range from simple to complex. Supported by advertising proceeds, Freerange runs a revenue sharing scheme for its contributing photographers. Browse the site’s newest or most popular photos, or use its search function to locate your ideal image. Simply create a free account to download high-definition images in various sizes.

Kaboompics

Carefully curated and beautifully presented, the photographs on Kaboompics are ideal for a range of design projects. Created by Polish web designer Karolina Grabowska, Kaboompics has an easy-to-use interface and a convenient one-click download button below each picture. A navigation bar at the top of the site offers at-a-glance access to various photo categories. You can use the images on Kaboompics without attribution, though Karolina appreciates links back to source files if you use photographs in web-based designs.

Gratisography

A brainchild of visual artist Ryan McGuire, Gratisography offers its guests a selection of high-resolution image at no charge. Gratisography’s collection of whimsical and amusing photography makes it a worthy and unique addition to the bookmarks section of your browser. Explore the site by category or use the search bar to view photographs in a clean grid-style layout; to download an image, simply click on it. Enjoy new images on a weekly basis and use photographs in commercial or personal designs without treading on hallowed copyright ground.

Picography

Founded by Dave Meier, the man behind Dublin-based web design company Hidden Depth, Picography hosts a range of professional photographs taken in various European locations. Scroll through the site’s HD offerings and pick out your favorites, or search by keyword to narrow the field. To expand your image collection even more, sign up for Picography’s weekly photo email. You can use any of the pictures on this site in commercial projects without attribution. If you enjoy the photographs on Picography and have a little extra money to burn, you can go pro and gain access to additional photographs.

FoodiesFeed

Excellent food photography is an essential part of restaurant flyer design. Enter FoodiesFeed: your soup-to-nuts free source for professional-quality culinary images. Created by gourmet food lover and photographer Jakub Kapusnak in 2014, FoodiesFeed contains an array of food-centric images, from beautifully presented fish dishes to dew-covered berry macro shots. Download individual photographs in a single click or opt for a thematic photo package to snag multiple images at once. For a more comprehensive digest, sign up for the FoodiesFeed monthly newsletter.

New Old Stock

Get nostalgic with New Old Stock, which collates vintage photos from public archives for a single-source retro exhibit. Search the site for a specific subject or travel through time when you scroll through images at random. To view or download an image, just click on it to open the photo in a brand new window. Hyperlinked attributions at the bottom of each picture take you back to the image’s original Flickr page, where you can check Creative Commons restrictions before using photographs in commercial graphic design projects.

Conclusion

Vibrant, clean photos make great designs even better — and like so many things, images seem so much sweeter when they’re free. For best results at the print shop, choose the highest resolution photographs you can find and then modify them in Photoshop or InDesign to suit your needs.

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