Blog / Articles06 February 2018

Features of free photo selection: designer experience

Designer’s work is inseparably connected to the need of quality images. However, what to do if there’s no opportunity to organize a photo session or to buy a picture in a photo bank?

In such a case, photo stocks are what rescues me. During my professional activity I defined the most effective resources of this type for me, found out some of their features and got some own algorithms and patterns of searching quality and free photos. In this article, I’m going to share my observations with you.

1. Stocksnap


Perhaps, my favorite hipster photo stock. It’s quite useful if you need some quality atmospheric pictures on the most widespread topics: landscapes, people, architecture, food. All the materials of Stocksnap are under Creative Commons Zero (СС0) license. It means that you can use and edit any picture from this resource for commercial/non-commercial purposes even without author’s permission.

2. Unsplash


More than 300 thousand impressive pictures. I prefer using this resource in complex with Stocksnap: I collect the most suitable search results and select the best. All the photos published on Unsplash can be used for free. Attribution is optional.

3. Pexels


Photos on this resource are free and made to expand creator’s opportunities. Pexels is an important unit in my complex of hipster photo stocks. Using Stocksnap, Unsplash and Pexels at the same time allows you to improve the photo collection’s quality. All the stock’s photos are under CC0 license that allows their usage in any legal purposes without attribution.

4. Picjumbo


Probably, Picjumbo doesn’t have as large photo base as the above stocks. However, it surely competes in terms of published materials’ quality. There are paid photo session packs as well as free images, which can be used for commercial and non-commercial purposes. It is quite useful if you need a couple of images in the same style. This resource is unique because all the photos published there are made by the only author, who is Viktor Ganacek. Besides photography, the creator of this resource is a designer and a web-developer. Therefore, Viktor really knows what photos designers need!

5. Freepik


It is the main source for marketing photos in my arsenal. Yes, there are images of proverbial smiling woman with salad, businessmen shaking hands and other clichéd plots. However, concentrating on the associations to the main thought and project’s object you can select an original photo, which will attract the users. Starting the search for the photos, don’t forget to mark “Photos” and “Selection” checkboxes. It will really accelerate the process. After downloading, don’t forget to acquaint with the license attached to the image.

6. Flickr


What to do when you need an image of something uncommon, for example, a rare animal? In such a case, a photo hosting Flickr really helps. Type, for example, “Proboscis monkey” in the search bar, and you will get lots of photos of this funny representative of the monkey family. Considering the nature of this resource (it’s a photo hosting, not a stock) there isn’t stable image quality, but there are enough worthy photos. Don’t forget to select “All Creative Commons” license type in advanced search and to acquaint with the license details.

To sum up, I’d like to draw your attention to the fact that the concept of the “free photo” isn’t the same as absence of copyrights. Despite unlimited opportunities of usage, some of these images require attribution. Don’t forget that any photo is a result of someone’s work. Therefore, when you indicate the author, even if it doesn’t require the license, we give tribute to his/her efforts.

Want to know more about copyright on images on the Internet and how to use photos so as not to get a complaint from the copyright holder? Then read our article on DMCA and the sanctions for violating it.

Anton Ocheretyanko
Arto Web Agency Co-founder, Web-designer
I have been specializing in Web-, UI-, UX- and Product-design since 2014, but I created my first website in 2009. As a co-founder and managing partner of Arto Web Agency, I try to keep an eye on all areas of the agency’s activities. If you want to ask a question about this article - please write me to

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