Whether you are an author, a blogger or just someone who likes to make collages or aesthetics, finding images that are appropriately licensed for your needs is important.
If you want to use a stock image for a book cover, it HAS to be licensed for commercial use. If you are just using these for aesthetics, you don’t need it to be commercially licensed.
This site has great variety but the quality isn’t always great. It has one of the best search functions of any of the free sites. They also include videos, illustrations and vectors for your use, which is great. Photos uploaded here don’t require credit, which is nice!
These are very high-quality photos, but with a limited selection. They usually upload their photos to Pixabay so there will be some crossover. They also do not require photographer credit.
Unsplash has pretty high-quality images and a pretty good variety. Their search function is…. fairly useless. You’ll get a lot of random stuff in your searches, no matter how specific your terms are. You don’t have to credit the photographers, but Unsplash makes it easy to copy and paste credit with links automatically provided whenever you download a file.
If you’re looking for people of color, this is where you’ll find a lot more images. Their photos are great, but the selection is limited because the stock photo world hasn’t really caught up with the reality that not everyone is white. Credit is not required but recommended. Their search function is terrible.
This is a site where credit is required. One of my favorite parts of this site is the search by dominant color function, even though their other search functions kind of stink.
Flickr is where a lot of amateur photographers post their photos for public consumption, so that means there’s a wide variety of photos, BUT there’s also a wide variety of qualities. You need to search for the photos that are licensed for creative commons.
Mixed Free/Paid Stock:
This site is a subscription based one with a mix of free and paid stuff, but one of their strengths is that they also offer fonts that are licensed for commercial use. You do have to pay for it though.
CreativeMarket’s strength for creators is that they offer six free things every week. They can be a mix of photos, fonts, templates or illustrations – some of which will be useful. They also have A LOT of options for paid work.
Offers some free photos, photoshop templates and vectors, with a much larger selection of paid stuff.
Paid Stock Sites:
This is my go-to, honestly. They offer good deals for a wide selection of stock photos. Credit isn’t required and you won’t regret it.
This site is focused on Women of Color which is Amazing. They’ve got great quality and selection and work on a subscription basis.
Shutterstock has a huge selection but it’s also pretty pricey. They’re usually my last choice because of the price of images, but I’ve used them for my covers in the past.
Now, I also have a video showing how I make aesthetics as a free post on my Patreon.