The importance of image quality with the images we use in our online ventures is so, so important. Nobody wants to see tiny, pixelated pictures when browsing a website, no matter the genre, but in the same vein we want to make sure that we aren’t using pictures that legally belong to someone else. Myself, I’ve been in the forum roleplay and web-builder game for many years now: I build my own forum roleplays, code website themes and create images for characters or digital artworks for myself and others.
That being said, I didn’t learn the importance of the phrase “Unrestricted Stock” until the last year or so. Like many others, I would just google what I needed and crop/edit/upload away, with no respect or care for the picture’s original artist or photographer. It was never malicious intent, but even ignorance is inexcusable with the wide world of the internet at our disposal. I learned, I changed my ways, and now for any of my web-based projects I make sure that the images (also known as stock) I use are either 100% my own, purchased from a verifiable source, or clearly marked as Unrestricted Stock.
When an image is marked as Unrestricted, this means that you can use said photos, edit them, re-upload them and apply them for commercial purposes without needing to credit the original author/owner/artist. But the reality is that genuinely free unrestricted stock is hard to come by. Over the years, I’ve collected and bookmarked many websites that offer such resources, and the following are my top 5 favorites!
Pixabay is at the top of my list because it has almost 1 billion unrestricted stock images to choose from, and every single one is high quality. You’ve got animals, architecture, people, places… the whole nine yards! Best of all, the site is incredibly easy to navigate and search, making it my go-to website for tracking down that specific stock image I need.
Unsplash reads and browses much like a social media website might. You can ‘collect’ and save photos to your account for later use, and browsing is made simple with an intuitive search bar at the top of the browser. Another neat tool is that it integrates with Google Chrome, offering an ad-on to your browser tabs where you can always have stock photos within easy reach.
While it has fewer photos available than many other stock sites, Pexels makes it on my list because in many cases they have had a photo for exactly what I’m looking for when others have not. They offer a great handful of up-close shots and poses for specific things like writing, note-taking, etc that I find appealing to my needs.
Unrestricted not only has stock photos, but they also have a large selection of free vectors and hand-drawn images that can be very useful for any blog or website venture. It’s important to note that while these images are Royalty-Free and can be used, edited, cropped and re-uploaded in almost any capacity, this website does specifically note that their photos are not to be used in any fraudulent, obscene or otherwise off-color manner.
All photos on Picography are by the same photographer, and while his selection is relatively small, each and every image is spectacular. The website is easy to search and he also offers an email signup where you can receive weekly emails with any new photos he uploads to the site. It’s a recommendation from me because he has a very unique style and angle to his portfolio of work, making the images eye-catching and often above-par as far as stock images go.
And there you have it! I have used all of these sources on more than one occasion and – you guessed it! – on this blog, as I’m sure you’ll recognize some of the images once you get to browsing through the sites.
If you’re feeling creative and want to add that unique flair to your own blog or website and want to use your very own photos instead of stock, you’ll need to set yourself up with a decent camera! I recommend the Nikon COOLPIX L340 Digital Camera package from Amazon, as it completely sets you up with everything you could need for a very, very fair price.
What are some projects that you’re currently working on where you’re in need of stock photos? I’d love to follow your work!