Posted on: October 18, 2021 Posted by: Austin Cooper Comments: 0
what are stock images

Ever hear the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words?” This old adage is especially true in today’s fast-paced online world, where images stand a greater chance of catching the attention of potential readers than text alone.

In fact, research shows that social media posts with images receive over 30% more engagement than those without. Blog posts with images get a whopping 2.3 times more engagement!

Of course, finding the right photo for your updates can be a chore, especially if you aren’t in a position to take one yourself. Fortunately, that’s where a popular digital solution comes in: stock images.

But what are stock images, anyway? Chances are, you’ve seen these generic photos online, but what sets them apart from other images, and where can you find them? Let’s take a look at the basic definition and dive into a few great sites to search for your next photo find.

What Are Stock Images?

Stock images are professional-grade photos, illustrations, icons, graphics, and other forms of imagery used for a range of purposes.

These photos are often generic in nature, allowing anyone who uses them to illustrate a general idea. Whether you want an eye-catching city photo to go with your travel blog or a shot of a business meeting for your recent Instagram post, these generic images are the way to go.

In fact, stock images can tackle a range of topics, from landscapes and animals to businesses and technology. Often, photographers will use paid models to recreate a general scene, or they will snap candid photos of real-life settings.

The photographers and artists who create these images dictate how, when, and by whom they can be used. In some cases, businesses might have to pay a fee for the use of a specific image or for access to a library of images. The fee to use an image can range from a few pennies to hundreds of dollars, according to the photographer’s and distributors’ fee structures.

In other cases, a library of stock images may be free for both personal and commercial use. However, many sites have Creative Commons licenses with specific attributions, meaning that they may require you to give proper attribution or link back to the website you took the photo from. Even so, this is a small price to pay for free stock images!

If you’re hoping for free imagery for your own needs, let’s take a look at a few of the best free stock image sites.


With a fantastic library of CC0-licensed photos, Everypixel has something for any user. Because it aggregates images from popular stock photo websites—including most of the sources below—it’s a great one-stop shop for anyone looking for a huge range of royalty-free photos.

What’s more, its AI algorithm helps to curate the best of the best, meaning that the free images you’ll find on the site are both high-quality and trending. In addition, the site’s collection gets daily updates, and its search feature comes with a robust filter function, allowing you to find only the photos you need.


With hundreds of thousands of high-resolution images from thousands of contributors, Unsplash offers beautiful stock photos for commercial and noncommercial use. Though it’s a relative newcomer to the stock photography scene, this site has fast become a new favorite for bloggers and marketers nationwide.

Subjects range from people to nature to architecture and more, with new images added every day. In addition, it also has a section for remixed photos and graphic design work.


Oriented more toward business and marketing images, Pixabay has a wide library of photos for digital marketers and bloggers. In addition to photos, the website has a robust collection of free vectors and illustrations for both personal and commercial use. As its images are also licensed under CC0, you can use them without permission or credit.


Royalty-Free Images With over 120 million images from Shutterstock to choose from, you will never get tired of looking. You can find assets for your project with ease through online. Vector, illustration, and images are available. It can be used for personal or business purposes.


Founded in 2015, Pexels is a photo repository on a mission to empower creators. Since its inception, its library has grown vast, making it one of the best-curated sites on the internet. Their collection even includes free stock videos!

It’s worth noting, of course, that Pexels has a unique license that states what you can and can’t do with the images. This includes the right to use and modify them for personal or business use without attribution.


Looking for unusual but free-to-use stock images? Every photo on offer in Libreshot is the work of owner Martin Vorel, who snaps shots of a range of business, tech, nature, and architecture scenes.

From intense close-ups to gorgeous landscapes, these images are completely free to use and under CC0 license. Of course, Vorel requests that you consider adding a link back to his website as attribution!


Though this image-hosting website wasn’t originally designed with stock images in mind, it continues to be a great resource for finding them. User-submitted stock photos can range to a huge spectrum of subjects, meaning that you might be surprised at the variety. However, it’s worth noting that you’ll have to put in a bit more work than with the sites above!

Users searching for free stock images can look for photos under specific licenses. For the purposes of stock photography, filtering by “Commercial use & mods allowed” under “Any license” will showcase the range of images available. Be sure to double-check each image, as the details of their licensing may vary.

Find the Best Images for Your Content

No matter what kind of content you’re creating online, the right image can make all the difference. Now that you’ve stopped wondering, “What are stock images, anyway?” it’s time to get started! Use the sites above to find the perfect images, and start earning more visitors and better engagement along the way.

Looking for more of the business and tech tips you need to know? Be sure to check out our other posts for additional insights.

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