I know how it is; you spend hours and hours setting up the perfect little scene for your beautiful blogging photos, only for the sun to hide behind the clouds the very second you get ready to start snappin’. When the sun finally does come out and you manage to get a few decent shots, there’s a weird glare right in the centre of the photo. Or it seems to come out really grainy when you brighten things up during editing time. And then, when you think you’ve gotten over all of that hassle, the winter comes and hits full pelt, grey skies and all, and you get virtually no sunshine each day. That means utter devastation for your beautiful blogging photos and, if you’re anything like me, the end of the blogging journey.
If I can’t get an image to work with the blog post, there’s no point in publishing the blog post at all. That’s it. I quit. It’s over.
(Okay, so, I sometimes overreact a little, but I hold my hands up to that.)
That’s how my story usually goes anyway. I bought a massive lighting rig with the biggest lightbulbs I’ve ever seen in my life to try and rectify the situation, thinking they were desk-sized. They’re NOT desk-sized. They’re definitely far too big I for what I need, but that’s my fault because I didn’t actually read the size dimensions. It was only when the package turned up at my door did I learn of their full-size status. Oops. I should probably look at the full description before I buy stuff on the internet. Believe it or not, that’s not even the first time I’ve done that.
Moving along to the actual topic at hand, what do you do when you have ZERO usable blog images? Do you throw a filter on an existing one and hope for the best? Fiddle around with apps such as VSCO or Snapseed? (Definitely both worth taking a look at if you haven’t already.) Don’t blog at all? Look for an older photo that wasn’t total crap, but that you’ve used before?
Let me tell you what you SHOULD do when you have no blogging photos of your own — you SHOULD use stock photos.
What are ‘Stock Photos’?
Stock photos are brilliant for when you can’t create the perfect image yourself. Let’s pretend you’re a beauty blogger, for example, looking for the perfect flat lay or image to go with a blog post you’ve written. It’s not about one particular brand, so you don’t want to use one of the images with specific brands or products featured in them. Let’s say that your blog post is about lavender beauty products. (Let’s pretend.)
What if I told you that you could use this image:
Source: Kassey Downard
It’s a beautiful image, right? It would go perfectly with a cheeky little blog post on lavender beauty products and care.
You CAN use that image, and you don’t even need to pay for it. You don’t even need to give the original artist any credit for the photo.
(*Although I like to give credit anyway.)
That particular photo was found on stocksnap.io, just one of the great places to find free stock images for bloggers. That’s just ONE source of free stock images too. There are even more websites that you can pay for. I’ll go into those another time but, for now, I’d like to concentrate on the freebies. If you’re a new blogger just starting out, there’s a good chance you won’t have the funds to pay for costly image licensing just yet.
Stocksnap.io is filled with high-resolution images and free stock photos, and you can easily find exactly what you’re looking for with the search bar. Some free stock photo sites only have a handful of results, but there were 30+ results for “lavender”, which is enough to get you started.
If you’re not looking for something floral or beauty inspired (there are 354 results for “beauty”), there’s plenty more. A quick search for “blog” images threw up 22 results, including this one:
Source: Startup Stock Photos
And, if you fancy something home-inspired, you could always choose something like this one:
(For the record, there are 218 image results for “home”.)
You have the option to search by relevance, date, number of views or downloads, and even trending photos. Remember that trending photos are likely to be in a number of other places on the internet. If you avoid using free stock images because you don’t want the same blog photos as everyone else, choosing the ones with the least downloads — not trending — is a smart tip to remember.
With new, high res images uploaded on a weekly basis, it’s one of the great places to find free stock images that I’ve come to rely on.
*You can also submit your own photos to the site.
Creating an account allows you to do this, as well as allowing you to ‘favourite’ photos or images that you think you could use later on. The photos are vetted before they’re allowed on the site. This works well for you if you want excellent quality photos only. Images that aren’t good enough don’t make it to the site.
All images on Stocksnap.io are free to use for both commercial and personal businesses, without any credit necessary, and you can even edit them too. (Creative Commons CC0 license.) I like to give credit to the original photographer, even though you don’t need to. It’s a nice thing to do. Plus, I would want someone to do the same for me. Wouldn’t you?
Moving on, there are plenty of places in which you can find these beautiful stock images, for those days when your own photos just aren’t doing it for you. Below are a few more that I can personally recommend and have used myself. (In some instances, many times.)
📷 Burst – Shopify
This stunning image was found on Burst (by Shopify), searching for “beauty”. At the time of writing, there were over 250 images for “beauty” alone.
Source: Sarah Pflug
The above image, you can download without having to enter any details. It is a ‘Standard’ download. You can always enter your email address to download a ‘Premium’ version of the image. If you were to look at ‘New Photos’, you would find this little delight, which is a ‘Premium’ version of the image:
Source: Sarah Pflug
It is encouraged to give credit, although you don’t actually need to do this. You can find more details about the rights for the above image here.
📷 Styled Stock
If you’re on the hunt for something more feminine, you could consider using Styled Stock – “feminine stock photography”. Again, you don’t need to give credit, but it is encouraged. You’ll find more about their licenses here. I really love the images on offer here; clear, bright, and perfect for that little space on your blog.
There really are some impressive images on Styled Stock, but this one really caught my eye:
Source: Styled Stock
📷 Shot Stash
Another fab site for when you can’t find what the image you’re looking for is Shot Stash. New photos are added daily. There are no fees or royalties to pay out for. You don’t need to give credit, although, as with most places to find free stock images for bloggers, the link back is appreciated.
Source: Shot Stash
You can edit and use any of the images on the site for both non-commercial and commercial purposes. There’s also the option to search for something specific with the search bar or pick from the categories. There aren’t many — abstract, architecture, business, food, landscape, nature, people, and technology, but the images are pretty good. The site is definitely worth a closer look.
I really like the wonderful mix of photos that you can find on Skitterphoto, from ski photos to floral arrangements, cooking and kitchen themes to cats and images of the Mona Lisa. There are even travel images, with places such as Amsterdam and the odd spooky graveyard. They make me wish I had a spooky, graveyard-inspired story to tell. Some of the images are a little odd and obscure, but there are some really cool shots too. It’s definitely one of the 5 great places to find free stock images for bloggers, particularly seasonal shots.
Source: Peter Heeling
I wouldn’t recommend using stock images for all of your blog images. Every once in a while though, when inspiration fails to wave its magic little wand over you, these stock image sources do come in handy.
Of course, I can’t mention the benefits of using stock images without having a gloss over the disadvantages. There are a few, so I’ll list them:
Why You Might Not Want to Use Stock Images on Your Blog
To start with, you’re using images that other bloggers are going to also use. The images that you see in this blog post will also be featured on plenty of other blogs too. Many of the above stock image sources show you how many times that image has been downloaded, from that website. I would opt for the images that have the fewest downloads. The ones that have the most downloads are featured on other blogs more frequently.
The second thing I’ve noticed is that you’ll find some of these stock images for bloggers on more than one website. In many cases, they’re actually on three, four, maybe even five different sites. The download figure you see only counts the downloads from that ONE website, so you won’t necessarily see how many times that image has been downloaded from other websites, or overall.
If you’re trying to stand out from the crowd, using stock images all the time will prevent you from being able to do this, unless you do some clever editing.
Source: Styled Stock
When you’re using an image that someone else has put together, it might not entirely reflect the message you’re trying to portray. Art, photos, visual imagery — it’s all very much an interpreted ‘thing’. What one person sees isn’t necessarily what another person sees. You’re essentially trying to use someone else’s image — their vision — and making everything else of yours fit around it.
When you take and use your own images, you can make that image say or portray whatever you like.
Of course, sometimes not even these great places to find stock images for bloggers will be able to provide the exact picture you need to complete your bloggy masterpiece. (Kinda makes my title a little misleading …)
Taking (and editing) your own photos rather than relying on stock images is definitely going to benefit you, especially if you don’t want your blog or site to look like everyone else’s. It’s not always possible, though. Sometimes you need to weigh up your options …
Is your blog post too important to pass up or delay? If the answer is yes, but you have no photos that work, the above 5 great places to find stock images for bloggers fill the gap you have. (Whether you’re happy about using them or not.)