Stock Photos - Where to Find Them...

Hiring a photographer to take a photograph of a generic object or of a scenic landscape is sometimes a waste of both money and time. Often it is better simply to get the image off of the Internet.

You do however have to consider where you get the image from. Simply using an image you found on Google Images is likely to leave you in breach of copyright. Therefore, you will need to look for images with permission from the photographer to use the images commercially. There are many websites setup specifically for this job and sometimes they even have free images so that you can use the images at no cost whatsoever. As there is such a wide range of stock photo websites, I'll only just list a few of them in this entry, but if you can't find what you're looking for on any of the websites below, then there are plenty more on the Internet!


Screenshot of stock.xchng

stock.xchng (external link) is both a mouthful of a name and a great stock photo website, especially because nearly every single image is completely free. You are generally free to use any image commercially, however photographers are free to set their own restrictions such as providing attribution. The quality of the images is generally very high, but the range of images is sometimes lacking. Some more obscure searches will often bring up no results. Most of the images are of a high enough quality for print as well, which makes it a little bit more useful.

You can browse the site without signing up, but to download any images you must register and be logged in. However, it is also free to do so.


Screenshot of iStockPhoto

iStockPhoto (external link) is one of the biggest stock photo websites and boasts one of the largest collections of photographs, illustrations, and videos. You will have to pay for the images though. However, the prices are very reasonable. The prices for photographs start at $1 for an XS-size image (big enough for web pages) and goes up to $20 for an XXL-size image.

You can buy images either on a pay-as-you go basis by buying credits or by subscribing to the site, which gives you a daily amount of credits you can use. Browsing the site is painless enough and finding the right image is a simple process.


Screenshot of Flickr

While Flickr (external link) isn't technically a stock image website, you can use it like one. Using the advanced search feature, you can select to search only content that is released under Creative Commons and also to make sure you can edit the image and use it commercially. Only certain images on Flickr are available like this, but there is still enough content for it to be useful.

This was only a quick overview of some of the sites out there. There are plenty more if you go out and look. Using stock photography makes a lot of sense for most designers, so finding a site that's right for you is important and these three are great ones to begin looking at!


  • I personally use stock.xchng whenever I need stock photography, although most of my designs don't use many images.

    Posted by Ethan Poole (external link) on Mon 1 Dec 2008 at 12:53