Atelier21 Stock Photo

There seems to be a new stock image photo repository popping up every day. Unfortunately, not all stock image websites are created equal. You’ve seen that stock image site that has the overly posed images that look super cheesy, right? You’ve also seen companies use those, and you cringe every time, don’t you? I sure do! That’s why I compiled a list of the top-quality stock image sites for small business owners. This is not the end all be all, and if you own a quality stock photo site that I haven’t included, please email me. I’d love to add more to the list.

I broke this list down into categories to make it easier. I know that as small business owners, we have so many things to spend money on. Having free stock image sites is crucial. However, when free just isn’t giving you what you need there are a few paid options I stand by and use regularly. I’ll start with the free quality stock image sites, first. As usual, you can find this list and more resources for small businesses on my branding and marketing resources page here.

Royalty-Free Stock Photo Sites

Unsplash stock photo
A stock image from Unsplash

I have 2 go-to stock image websites for all my projects. They are Unsplash and Pexels. They have such amazing quality, their libraries are huge, and they are easy to search. You’ll find that search filtering will become an important stock image site feature. Below are all my favorite creative commons free stock images sites for small businesses. When browsing these royalty-free stock photo sites, be sure to check the license before using it for commercial. Licenses are often limited to personal use only. 

  • Unsplash– This is by far the most popular, quality stock image website. Unfortunately, that means some of the popular images are overused.
  • Pexels– Pexels is a favorite, because they not only have free, quality stock images, but they also offer free stock videos too.
  • Pixabay– Their library isn’t as vast as the first 2, however, you won’t see as many of their images used. I see Unsplash images EVERYWHERE.
  • Free Nature Stock– If you need photos of people, the first 3 have you covered. If you need stock images of nature, this is your site.
  • Foodies Feed– This was a pleasant find. If I were a food blogger, I would love having this resource for quality stock food photos.
  • Negative Space– This site made the list because their shooting style is different. I’d say if you were looking for covers for blogs or social media without people being the focus, then they have you covered.

Stock Photo Membership Sites

Atelier21 Stock Photo
Atelier21 Stock photo

The big guys offer photo packages, but honestly, they’re not always affordable. It’s easier to pay for a membership with a smaller company where you know the stock photos aren’t overused online. That’s because they don’t come from the big guys. I have a membership with Moyo Studio, and every mocked-up image on my site comes from them. I plan to get a membership with Eye for Ebony, and Atelier21 Co. With memberships, the libraries are streamlined, color-coded for branding purposes, and updated monthly. All of them give away freebies before you have to decide on membership.

  • Moyo Studio– beautiful stock photos and mockups, perfect for designers.
  • Atelier21 Co. – great stock images for bloggers and creatives
  • Haute Stock– stylish images for upscale businesses and creatives.
  • Eye for Ebony– a wide range of quality stock photos for black business owners and bloggers

Big Box Paid Stock Photos

Adobe Stock Image
Adobe Stock photo

Honestly, when it comes to client work, I have to end up using these big guys. If you have to go big, these are the most affordable. The best tip I can give when using these big guys is to buy their photo packages to save money. Image licenses can add up the more photos you need. At the moment, my favorite, and most affordable option is Adobe Stock. They have an option to try them for free for 30-days. You get 10 images for free.

  • Shutterstock– I buy their image packages and they have the highest selection for the best price.
  • Adobe Stock– Do the 30-day free trial to see if you like it first. This one is my favorite at the moment.
  • iStock– requires a larger budget than the others and is usually my last choice. It’s often my first choice for large companies.

Pay-per-Photo & Membership Stock Photos of Minorities

Stock photo from Twenty20
Stock photo from Twenty20

Sadly, it’s hard to find great stock images of minorities, especially African American people. Most of the time, the stock images of black people are of poor quality and overly staged. It always screams amateur hour, which is frustrating. It’s not just black people, it’s hard to find any other minority for that matter. So I curated a list of the best-paid stock photo resources for minority photos. The websites with membership are a great bargain because the images aren’t oversaturated online, and the libraries get updated monthly.

Am I Missing Any?

If you know of any other stock image sites that I need to check out, please drop a comment below. I’ll gladly check it out and add it to the list if it’s good. If you own a stock membership site, I’d love to check it out. Drop a line or email me using my contact form.

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