In this tutorial I will offer up my search techniques for finding great images for websites and other design projects. I will showcase a few resource sites and highlight some tools available with Google’s image search.
Let me know if you have any other sites that you use and if they compare to those I’ve listed.
1. Free Stock Photos
It was once the case that finding high quality stock images for your project was a difficult and costly process but thankfully those days are on their way out. Free stock image sites are everywhere now. Do a Google search and you will have more media than you can handle. There is still great value in using some of the traditional sites (Shutterstock, iStock, Getty Images, etc.), but some projects just don’t have the budget.
2. Sites to see
Here’s a list of some of my favourite license free resource sites:
- Pexels – a great directory based site that features stunning, high quality images ranging from abstract to people, vintage images to plants and nature.
- Unsplash – a growing collection of high resolution photos from some very skilled photographers. Nature and architecture feature prominently as do urban patterns and textures. Subscribe and get 10 free images every 10 days.
- Pixabay – photos, illustrations, vector graphics and videos, all free for personal and commercial use. Featuring categories such as: animals, backgrounds, education, health/medical, nature, people, sports and a lot more.
- Gratisography – all photos on this site are by Ryan McGuire. He has a great eye for composition and the whimsical. It’s also a great site for inspiration.
- Free Stocks – a smaller collection of images but perfect for that stunning hero images or background.
3. Find What You Want
So all those sites are great, but what if they don’t have what you’re looking for? Google has your back! Google Images is a great resource, you can search by subject or drag an image from your computer into the search bar, and really customize your search parameters.
Once you’ve entered your search, click on the Search tools button. Another bar with additional drop down options will appear and you can select from the options to refine your search. I always set the size to ‘Large’ or ‘Larger than 1024 x 768’. Another very useful search tool is the ‘Usage rights’ menu. If you select Labeled for reuse (with modifications) you can be assured that you will not have any copyright issues.
4. Keeping Searching
Finding the ‘right image’ will take time but it’s worth it as so much can be added to the experience of your website by simply adding a great image! Always remember, as with all media on your site, it should be relevant to your site or posts.