Visual content makes all the difference in a site’s appearance. It’s like the cherry on the cake. Images, videos, infographics and other media-related material are amongst the most important elements your site should include. The best way to ‘decorate’ and customize the way your online academy looks, is through stock photography.
But what exactly is stock photography? Let’s find out…
Stock photos are generic photos of people, places and things that are licensed for commercial use and are available to anyone who wants to use them. The images often personalise a client’s brand, business or specific projects. Some sites include other visual material such as video clips, audio, vectors, illustrations and editorial content, which often comes with a price. In short, awesome multimedia material to enrich your online course!
This article lists 12 websites where you can find and download free images of all sorts that are not strictly corporate-related. These may include from office-space images to cat photos, or any other creative and inspiring content that can be used to enhance the on-site learning experience and improve the appearance of your school, provided that it’s relevant to your subject. So here’s a list of my top go-to sites for stock images that are released under creative commons public domain – no attribution required.
This is usually my first stop, because of the huge number of images available (more than 1.2 million) and ease of use, The content is released under Creative Commons CC0 which makes them safe to use and allows downloads without asking for permission or giving credits to the artist.
Pixabay houses images, vectors, illustrations and videos) that you can browse and download for free. It has an editor’s Choice section and photographers’ profile collection that you can check out, differentiating them in most active, popular and newcomers.
FreeImages lists many photo categories you can choose ranging from popular sectors such as business, arts and education, and other specific subjects e.g. flower/trees, home designs, celebrities and many more that you can make relevant to the subject you teach. The site offers you the option to search for images in terms of price availability, submission date popularity and editor’s picks.
Unsplash.com offers beautiful HD and sentimental photos that you can use not only for commercial purposes. What’s great about this site is that it list photos as collections that are curated by brands like Magazine, Trello, Fujifeed and Squarespace. As noted on the site, Unsplash grants you with an irrevocable non-exclusive copyright license to download, copy, modify, distribute, perform, and use photos for free.
Offering courses for developers? How about a nice dual screen photo from Unsplash?
On Pexels you can literally find anything you want. The site is easy to use and navigate as it offers a browsing tool that suggests categories for search. It offers a range of high-quality photos and collections on very specific things, places and people. Pexels also allows you to check the profile collection of top photographers or even contribute with photos of your own. Attribution is not required, and you can modify, copy and distribute photos freely.
Pikwizard is the new kid on the block, and worth a look because 20,000 of it’s 100,000 photos are unique to this site. Also, they’ve got A LOT of pictures of people, which tend to be rare in free stock photo sites. If you check out the site search for “office” or “meeting” and you’ll see the quality of the pics on the site. PikWizard is adding new photos all the time, with a goal of reaching a million images, totally free to use without attribution.
Stocksnap is a royalty-free photography resource started up in 2015 and headquartered in Ottawa, Canada. Hundreds of new hi-resolution images are added weekly, and you can sort all the images by date added to see the latest additions. The site tracks views and downloads so you can also sort by most popular, which can be a good place to start.
The content is beautiful and attractive to the eye. Every week it gets updated with new photos and you get to check which ones are the most trending. Also, you can browse photos from a range of categories e.g. food, nature, travel, technology, sorting the search by relevance, date added, popularity, views and downloads.
A free stock photo provider that is worth checking out is Burst. Supported by Shopify, it offers a great deal of visually-appealing images you can use for any occasion. While it has a relatively smaller collection compared to others on this list, you can search for any category you want through ‘all photos’ and popular collections. Burst also offers some useful tips and business ideas that you can take inspiration from.
Welcome to the world of pix. LifeofPix has a gallery of free high resolution images you can choose from. Although somewhat limited in the numbers in each category, the site offers the opportunity to search for more photos through the photographers’ profiles, to check free videos and upload your own material.
Morgue File offers a site that’s easy to use as it comes with handy search tools. With over 350,000 free stock photos available, you can search for images of any type whether it is for inspiration, personal or commercial use. Also, you can browse videos or even upload your own creative content once you create an account.
StockVault is another useful site that you can add on your list of stock photography, though it’s not limited to that. Apart from free stock images it also offers ‘ready-to-use’ web layouts and logos to those who don’t have the means to gain access to royalty free agencies. For those who do there are also some premium products that include photos, music, textures and footage. The site is very easy to use as it offers a huge variety of categories you can choose from.
When looking for images to use on your site/school, first you need to decide what you are after and make sure that you are being as specific as possible. Using keywords on search tools can help you find what you are looking for even though sometimes you may need to come up with a unique one that works along your e-learning material.
These photos have the power to influence your brand’s image/reputation and your customer’s royalty and can guarantee that you get high-quality images shot by hired photographers. So, what’s stopping you?
Finally, let’s not forget design sites like Canva, which have a bevy of stock images you can use in their awesome design templates, or download for other uses.