If you have ever tried to build a project online, one of the first issues you run into is finding good quality graphics. Everyone wants a spectacular looking website, but not everyone has professional photography and editing skills. So, where do you go to find fantastic quality free or cheap stock photos? We have compiled a list for you based on our own experience building websites and writing content for our clients.
Using the same dull free stock photos that everyone else and their moms are using is a bit counterproductive. When you join the world of the internet, you need to make your work stand out. Excellent graphics can either engage your site visitor or turn him or her away. How many times have you came across a website and immediately clicked the “back” button because the website looked… how do I say this.. ugly?
Finding the perfect platform where you can find all of the things that you need can be time-consuming. Heck, finding the right picture that flows with your content well is time-consuming as it is. We will make this more comfortable for you and present you with our research based on a few parameters that we looked for.
The First Parameter is Image Quality. This parameter determines how much effort you put into choosing the best free stock photo. You want to select images that are high resolution (in pixels) and at least 300 dpi. This means that they should be able to print at a large size without any problems. If the image is too small, then it won’t look sharp, and if it’s too big, then it’ll just take up space on your screen.
The second parameter is the file type. In this case, we’re talking about JPEG only. This means that you should use these images in an image editor such as Photoshop or GIMP. These programs allow you to edit the pictures to look more like what you would expect them to look like when printed out on paper. You also want to pick an image that is at least 600 x 800 pixels in size. That means that you should be able to fit the entire picture on your screen. If the picture isn’t exactly what you want, you can always crop it down to eliminate the unwanted parts.
The third parameter is how much editing is needed for the file. Each photographer has his/her style, and therefore it might be different from your current theme. Ensure that whichever website you sign up for has photos that are similar in style to your website style.
The last parameter is essential! You have to make sure to keep the original pictures that you find online. You never know when a company might decide to take their photos off of their site. Also, if you have downloaded free images, at some point, their authors might pull them from the “Royalty-Free” category and place them in the licensing required one. This can happen, so be aware of it.
This top 8 cheap stock photos article lists these website based on the following but in no particular order unless mentioned:
- Quality of the photos and graphics
- Quantity available to the users
- Ratings by the consumer
- Ease of use
1. Envato Elements (Free + Cheap)
Legit Verified Recommended Choice
Number one on our cheap stock photos list is the Envato Elements platform. Envato marketplace is a one-stop-shop for all of your stock photo needs as well as videos, Instagram templates, audio files, fonts, icons, logos, motion graphics, and many more.
Stock photos are a critical element in most designs. Whether you are building a website for yourself, a client, or need some cool graphics to work with for social media, Envato Elements has you covered.
Have you ever gotten stuck trying to look for some sort of specific industry pictures on a website that you are building for a client? For instance, you can find photos of roofers, plumbers, concrete polishers, writers, etc., all on the Envato Elements website. License is unlimited peruse for your projects when you get a monthly subscription.
Knowing the positive impact and relevance of photography for graphic design and predicting the steady growth of this type of content in the creative world shortly, they announced that to date, they hold a collection of more than 200,000 copies. High-quality photos are available on the Envato Elements service. You don’t have to look for your pictures elsewhere!
According to themes and styles, elements are now part of that vast collection of high-resolution photos that cover the most popular and sought after images.
With over 50 million stock photos and unlimited uses, there is not much that you cannot find on the Envato marketplace. Unlike a lot of its competitors, Envato lets you use their products unlimited times per month. If you are building an online asset in any niche, chances are you find what you are looking for on this site.
At $16.5 per month, Envato Elements has become our number 1 choice for stock images as well as stock videos and other graphics. The variety and quality of their products are second to none.
Price: Free for over 1 Million stock photos or $16.5/month for 50M+
2. Canva Photos (Free + Cheap)
In the beginning, we used sites like Pixabay or Pexel to get our free or cheap stock photos, but we were limited in choices. With paid platforms, you get much more and better quality media to populate your website. If $16.50 per month is a bit too much for you at this point, $9.95 from Canva might be the right way to go.
Canva is known among online marketers to provide outstanding designs and was primarily used for logo creations. With the time passing by, Canva has branched out to provide unlimited stock photos at your disposal.
Price: Free to $9.95 per month
3. Pexel (Free)
Pexels is quite a bit like Pixabay but with a better design. It seems to have more free stock photography of a higher quality but is relatively limited in the number of choices.
A few years ago, Pixabay was our top choice for entirely free images, but Pexels have stepped up their game and are now a leading provider for free stock photography. If you don’t want to spend any money, this website would be a great starting point.
4. Pixabay (Free)
Our first completely free stock photography website of choice is Pixabay. When we started in the online marketing industry, we solely used this website for our stock images.
With over a million free stock photos to choose from, Pixabay has a wide variety of assets that can help you get started without spending a dime. We used pictures from Pixabay and then edited them to our liking before using them.
The way Pixabay keeps its images free is based on the ads that they run on their site for Shutterstock. Usually, when you look for your project ideas, you might find a close match on Pixabay, but the advertisements at the bottom of the images will be more suitable. Shutterstock is pretty expensive, in our opinion, coming in at ten photos per month at $2.99 per month paid yearly ($29).
5. Unsplash (Free)
Another excellent site for Free Stock Photography. If you can find what you are looking for between Unsplash, Pixabay, and Pexel, you will not have to spend any money.
Unsplash seems to have fewer choices than the previously mentioned free stock photos websites, but their image quality is top-notch. The search feature inside the website appears to be a bit confused when looking for specific stuff.
For super-specific niche projects, the best way to go is by signing up for sites like Envato Elements. For more broad projects, free sites can suffice just fine.
6. Stock Photo Secrets (Cheap not Free)
This platform has an excellent variety of cheap stock photos to choose from. However, it is not free. When writing this article, Stock Photo Secrets had 6.7M images to choose from, with 100K new images being added each month. The chances of you not finding what you need are pretty slim.
Monthly memberships start at $35/month for 25 image downloads ($1.4 per image), while yearly membership is $99/year for 200 downloads ($0.495 per image). They want you to sign up for an annual membership, but we think other great paid options are mentioned above.
Price: $35/month starting package, gets cheaper with yearly packages
7. Dreamstime (Free or Cheap)
With over 134 million images to choose from, this site is a good source for cheap stock photos and free stock photography. There are 30 million users to think so positively. The selection of what they have to offer is incredible, and the quality of photos and videos.
The big downside is their pricing plan. While you can get images for as low as $0.2 per image, that only happens if you sign up for their $1724 yearly plan. You can get some free photos on their one-week free trial, but the lowest paid plan starts at $70/month for 50 images. That’s $1.42 per image download. While this is still considered a cheap stock photos site, it’s not the best option.
Price: Free 1 week trial, paid plans start at $70/month
8. Big Stock Photo (Cheap)
Based on other reviews that we have gathered, Big Stock Photo has made it to our cheap stock photos website list. With 92 million files on deck, they seem to have quite a variety of images to choose from. However, other paid sites mentioned above have a better selection, in our opinion. Image pricing is based on image size. To download images, you need to purchase credits.
After digging online, we have found out that most of Big Stock Photo customers aren’t necessarily happy with the service they have received. We cannot recommend this website ourselves since we weren’t willing to pull out our wallets to try it out after reading the reviews. It’s on this list since it’s too big to ignore.
Price: $35 for 10 images is the starting point, the more credits you buy, the cheaper the photos will get.
Ending Thoughts For Cheap Stock Photos and Free Stock Photography Website Review
If you have read through this whole article until the end, you should not have a problem anymore picking a website for your free or cheap stock photos needs. Sometimes it becomes very hard to find what you are looking for on royalty free websites. However there are some very cheap solutions that can make your life much easier. It is much more efficient to pay $15-$50 per month for making your own life easier than spend countless hours each month trying to find a free alternative.
Whatever you decide to do, you should always edit images for meta tag deletion and tweaking them to your liking. Meta tags is something to consider since it might lower your search engine rankings. If Google knows that you are using an image that’s posted on another 1000 websites, they might lower your ranking.
As far as which site to go with for your photography needs, keep in mind that most of the people choose to go for free stock photography websites. To not look generic, you might want to look into paid websites and weigh your options. Our number 1 choice is Envato Elements due to a fairly low monthly price, incredible selection of images and unlimited downloads per month.
If you know another site that could be added in the list, please don’t hesitate and shoot me an email.
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