The Best Resources for Free & Authentic Stock Photos

As a social media manager, I’m always looking for quality images to accompany my posts. We’ve all heard that media and marketing are becoming more and more visual. However, it’s imperative for marketers to not only use images, but to use high quality and real images. Simply put:

People can easily tell the difference between stock imagery and real images—and it matters.

Additionally, real images are relatable, authentic, emotional, and subtle — all crucial elements to a strong and effective visual brand identity. So, what’s a marketer to do? You need stock images and more of them, but all that's available either costs money, is tacky, or worst of all: both. Well, below is a list of sites that I use on a daily basis that have helped improve the visual identity on Harvard Medical School’s social accounts.

The essentials

  1. Unsplash —By far my favorite. Unsplash has the highest quality photos, a great search function, no ads, and an easy scrolling layout. The only drawback is the variance in the photos they offer is a bit limiting.

  2. — A close second to Unsplash. Stocksnap offers a bit more variety and options, along with a nice search function and a native photo editor. There’s the potential to lose some of the truly high quality selectiveness of Unsplash photos with Stocksnap, but Stocksnap’s variety certainly makes it a great second resource.

  3. Pexels— Some more variety and the potential for some very stock-ish results. Pexels is a great option when having exhausted Unsplash and

  4. Life of Pix— A nice library of photos with some great originals and a good search function. The lack of variety is a limiting, but the listing of video loops is pretty awesome.

An example from Unsplash by Greg Rakozy

More options

Jay Mantri — The lack of a search function is a little frustrating. But, the photos are handpicked and high quality.

Picjumbo — A large database of photos. However, the ads are slightly annoying.

Negative Space — The site has a good category filter and search functionality. Overall amount of photos and usability are not quite there, though.

Picography — Limited in variety with a lot of landscapes, but a good search function and the photos that are available are excellent.

That’s what I have for now and will continue to add other sites that I find useful; so feel free to bookmark this article as a resource.

Thank you

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