Where Do Graphic Designers Get Their Images

Where Do Graphic Designers Get Their Images?

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Are you a graphic designer wondering where to find images for your projects? Look no further.

In this blog post, we’ll answer the question asked by mostly every creative person who finds any attractive and meaningful design and that is “Where do graphic designers get their images?”

From stock photo websites to online image libraries, there are plenty of options available that offer high-quality visuals for a variety of design needs. From vector graphics to photos and illustrations, learn how these sources can help you find the perfect image for any project.

As a graphic designer, you know the value of images in your projects, Right? They can be the difference between catching the eye of consumers and getting lost in a sea of designs.

There are many options available, but not all are created equal. It can be difficult to find quality images that are both affordable and legal to use.

Fortunately, there are several resources available that provide high-quality, royalty-free images that can be used in your design projects without breaking the bank or infringing on copyright laws. So let’s begin.

But before that let’s clear the term Stock photos,

Table of Contents

What are Stock Photos?

Stock photos are pre-produced photographs that are readily available and licensed for use in various forms of design projects such as graphic design, advertising, and editorial. They are often used as a more convenient and cost-effective alternative to hiring a photographer or shooting your own images.

Many websites, companies, and individuals offer stock photos for purchase or free download, making them easily accessible to designers of all levels of experience. Stock photos can save you time and money and are often used to add visual interest and appeal to designs.

Companies like Shutterstock and iStock offer vast libraries of high-quality stock photos that can be searched by keyword, category, and other criteria. When using stock photos, it is important to understand the different types of licenses available, such as royalty-free and rights-managed, and how they differ in terms of usage restrictions and fees.

How to Choose Best Stock Photo Sites

Choosing the best stock photo sites for your project can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. The first step is to research and evaluate your options online. Look for sites that offer the features that are most important to you, such as budget-friendly pricing, high-resolution images, and a variety of licensing options.

When evaluating a site, be sure to check the quality and licensing of its images, as well as its reputation in the industry. Some highly rated stock photo sites include Shutterstock, iStock, and Getty Images, which offer millions of high-quality images at competitive prices, as well as flexible subscription plans that allow you to choose the best option for your needs.

To get the most value out of your stock photo subscription, consider signing up for a plan that offers unlimited downloads, or look for special deals and promotions that can save you money. Additionally, be sure to compare the pricing and features of different stock photo sites to find the best deal for your budget.

With a little research and planning, you can choose the best stock photo site for your project and create visually stunning designs that grab your audience’s attention.

Picture Quality

When selecting a stock photo site, it’s important to consider aspects like image quality, relevance, licensing choices, pricing models, uniqueness, and reputable platforms. Look for high-resolution images with suitable composition, lighting, and colors. Understand the different license types like Royalty-Free and Rights-Managed, and consider your budget when exploring subscription or pay-as-you-go models.

Avoid overused images and prioritize those that convey the desired emotions and aesthetics. Read reviews, seek discounts, and opt for established sites like Shutterstock, Getty Images, and iStock for a diverse selection of high-quality images. Following these tips will help you find the ideal stock photo site to create captivating visuals for your project.


Opting for a stock photo site that provides proper licensing is crucial to ensure compliance with legal requirements. Review the site’s terms and conditions to understand usage rights, permitted applications, and duration of usage. Reputable platforms like Shutterstock and iStock offer reliable licensing, providing a wide range of high-quality images at competitive prices.

Their websites clearly state licensing terms, ensuring legal and safe image usage. By choosing a stock photo site with proper licensing, you can confidently use images while protecting yourself from potential legal consequences. With these considerations in mind, you can find the best stock photo site for your needs and create visually captivating designs.


Selecting the right stock photography website requires considering pricing options. Subscription models suit frequent users needing large volumes of images, while pay-per-download is ideal for occasional users. Credit-based systems provide flexibility for as-needed purchases. When comparing well-known sites like Shutterstock, iStock, and Getty Images, consider their pricing strategies and image quality.

Lower-priced images may compromise quality, so review carefully and read customer reviews. Look for deals through newsletters, promotional codes, and site-offered discounts. By researching pricing models and options, you can find an affordable stock photography website that meets your needs.


When choosing a stock photo site, consider factors such as customer support, intended use (personal or commercial), frequency of image needs, affordability, and user-friendly interface. Excellent customer support streamlines the process while considering usage requirements and frequency helps determine the most suitable pricing model.

User-friendly interfaces with efficient search functions and filters save time. Well-known sites like Shutterstock, iStock, and Getty Images offer high-quality pictures at reasonable prices. By considering these factors, you can confidently select a stock photo site that fulfills your needs and creates visually captivating designs.

Ease of use

Choosing a stock photo site with an intuitive interface is crucial for efficient content creation. Look for clear search options, organized galleries, and straightforward downloading processes. High-quality photos are essential for exceptional user experiences.

Top stock photo websites like Shutterstock, iStock, and Getty Images provide both quality images and user-friendly interfaces, streamlining the image selection and download process. By selecting a site that prioritizes ease of use and offers HD images, you can create visually captivating content that engages your audience effectively.

Different Types Of Stock Photos License.

License for stock photos is an undeniable and most important factor when selecting the right image for your project. With the right license, you can use the image in any form, whether digital or print.

When it comes to licensing stock photos, there are two main types to consider: Royalty-Free and Rights-Managed. Royalty-Free licenses allow users to use an image multiple times, without having to pay a fee for each use. However, the license does come with some restrictions on how the image can be used, such as limitations on the number of copies that can be made or the size of the image that can be used.

Ultimately, the type of license you choose will depend on your specific needs and budget. Consider how you plan to use the image, how many times you will need to use it, and what restrictions apply, to determine which license is the best fit for your project or business. With the right license, you can use stock photos effectively and legally, while enhancing the visual appeal of your website, project, or business.

Editorial Use License

An editorial use license is appropriate for images that will be used to illustrate newsworthy stories or articles. With an editorial use license, you can use the image for print or online publications, such as books, magazines, newspapers, and websites.

It is important to note that this type of license does not allow commercial usage – the photo cannot be used in a way that promotes a product or service. Additionally, some editorial licenses forbid any changes to the original image. Check the terms of the particular license before making any alterations to a photo.

Creative Commons license (CC)

Using licensed images is crucial for content marketers to avoid plagiarism and legal issues. Creative Commons licenses offer various options, such as attribution, non-commercial, and no derivative works. Attribution licenses require giving credit to the original creator, non-commercial licenses restrict images to non-commercial use, and no derivative works licenses prohibit creating new works from the original image.

Understanding these licenses helps content marketers use images legally. Popular platforms like Flickr and Wikimedia Commons provide a vast collection of Creative Commons images, enabling marketers to enhance their content marketing strategies effectively and legally. Knowing the licensing options and image sources simplifies the process of finding and using licensed images.

Royalty-free (RF)

For content creators seeking an affordable and convenient solution for stock photos, a royalty-free license is ideal. Unlike Rights-Managed licenses, royalty-free stock photos licenses allow for multiple uses of an image without recurring fees. This cost-effective option permits the incorporation of these images into various projects without additional expenses.

Popular stock photo sites like Shutterstock and iStock offer vast collections of high-quality pictures under royalty-free licenses, ensuring a wide selection at competitive prices. Opting for a royalty-free license empowers content creators to leverage stock photos effectively, resulting in visually captivating designs while staying within budget.

Royalty-Free Extended License

Royalty-Free Extended License is an additional tier to the Royalty-Free license that offers further flexibility. It allows for more uses of the image than a regular Royalty-Free license, such as advertising and product packaging, large print runs, and much more. The cost of this type of license varies depending on the number of uses, but it generally costs more than a regular Royalty-Free license due to its added flexibility.

Rights managed (RM)

Rights-managed licenses are a type of stock photo license that grants exclusive rights to use a specific photograph for a defined period and under specific conditions. These licenses offer different pricing options based on factors like usage, duration, and exclusivity. The main advantage of rights-managed stock photos is their quality and exclusivity.

These carefully curated and licensed images ensure that you receive high-quality visuals that won’t be widely used by competitors. Furthermore, rights-managed licenses allow customization to fit your specific requirements. If you seek a balance between affordability and quality, rights-managed stock photos are worth considering for your projects.

Public Domain

Public domain images are photographs or illustrations that have had their copyright expired, granted to them by their original creator. When a work enters the public domain, it can be used without any restrictions for any purpose – commercial or personal. This makes public domain images ideal for projects that don’t require any exclusive use of the image in question, as you won’t need to pay licensing fees.

Many websites offer free access to public domain images, such as Wikipedia or Pixabay. You can easily search and download the image you need with no cost attached. This makes public domain images a great choice if you’re working with limited resources but still need high-quality visuals for your project.

10 Best Stock Photo Sites

1. Stock photo secrets shop

Designers highly appreciate Stock Photo Secrets due to its budget-friendly selection of stock photos. With an extensive inventory of over 6 million items, the site offers a diverse range of images, vectors, and fonts. All the resources available are of excellent quality, and there are ample variations to cater to the needs of every designer.

2. Shutterstock

Shutterstock is renowned for its vast collection of high-quality stock photos, which stands out for its exceptional resolution. While it may be comparatively more expensive than other stock sites mentioned here, Shutterstock’s image selection remains unparalleled in terms of quality.

3. Getty Images

Getty Images is synonymous with premium stock photos, offering an extensive collection of royalty-free visuals to enhance your website layout. While pricey, their high-quality and less-overused images make Getty Images the go-to choice for unique designs.

4. Istock

iStock, a subsidiary of Getty Images, is a popular and cost-effective website known for its extensive collection of high-resolution images. It offers various affordable payment plans, allowing you to access excellent visuals at a fraction of the price. Additionally, iStock provides a weekly opportunity for novice designers to obtain a free photo or illustration, making it a reputable source of freebies.

5. Pond5

Originally focused on stock footage, Pond5 has expanded its offerings to include images, leveraging its established reputation in the footage industry. A standout feature of Pond5 is its flexible pricing system, as sellers can set their own prices, catering to various budgets. With a pay-as-you-go option, users have the freedom to purchase single images without a subscription. Moreover, Pond5 boasts an extensive Public Domain section, providing the possibility of finding free content through comprehensive searches.

6. Stock free images

Good things can indeed be free, and Stock Free Images proves it with its extensive collection of nearly 1 million free photos. However, it’s important to be cautious as free images are often widely used. Exercise careful selection to avoid having a design similar to your competitors. Stock Free Images is a subsidiary of Dreamstime, a reputable paid stock website, that ensures reliable quality. Simply review the license details of each chosen image to ensure it allows modifications, and you’re all set to proceed!

7. MorgueFile

Don’t be misled by the name, MorgueFile is actually a leading online public image library created and run by creative professionals specifically for creative professionals. With an extensive collection of over 380,000 free photos for commercial use, MorgueFile is a valuable resource for stock photos. While some images may have lower resolutions, the fact that they are free makes it worth exploring further.

8. Deviantart

DeviantArt is a vibrant platform for artists and enthusiasts, offering a vast collection of over 350 million art pieces. It also serves as an exceptional source of stock photos, with numerous creative professionals sharing their artwork on the site for free. One of the standout qualities of DeviantArt is its commitment to maintaining high-quality standards. As a result, you can discover exceptionally high-resolution images suitable for both print and digital designs.

9. Sign elements

Sign Elements is a hidden gem among stock agencies, particularly for designers focused on vehicle templates. It offers a vast collection of signages, making it a must-visit site for those skilled in print and vinyl graphics.

In addition to the impressive selection of 20,000 ready-to-use vehicle templates, Sign Elements also features the typical stock photos and vectors found in other agencies. Furthermore, their pricing is affordable, with various discount plans available to help you secure the best deals.

10. Stock fresh

True to its name, Stock Fresh offers a wide range of distinctive and underutilized stock photos. It provides affordability, with prices starting as low as $1 for images, vectors, and illustrations. Subscribing to their plans can further enhance your savings.

Stock Fresh stands out with its sleek and intuitive website design, ensuring a seamless user experience. Their customer service is exceptional, excelling in client interaction and support.

Free Stock Images

Although paid stock image sites offer a wide variety of images, there are also free stock image sites that one can explore. Many free stock image sites have thousands of great quality images that you can use for any purpose without having to pay for them. Additionally, these sites often have more specialized images than those available on paid sites.

If you’re looking for something specific and unique, it’s worth taking a look at a few free stock image libraries to see if they contain what you need. Free stock image sites are also great resources to use when you’re in a pinch and need an image quickly with no cost attached.

Not only do these images save you time and money, but they also have the ability to increase engagement and professionalism.

So here are some of the best free stock images for you

Top 10 Free Stock Photo Sites

1. Pixabay

This website is a web designer’s ultimate fantasy. It offers an extensive collection of stunning high-resolution photos, vectors, and illustrations. Its user-friendly interface and powerful search tools make navigation a breeze.

The best part? It’s completely free. You can choose to browse as a guest or sign up for a free membership to skip the Captcha. While most images don’t require attribution, it’s important to double-check each one for any exceptions.

2. Unsplash

Unsplash is a popular website that offers a vast collection of high-resolution images that are free to use for personal and commercial projects, without the need for attribution. Their extensive selection of visually appealing photos can be easily filtered by categories such as “people,” “technology,” or “nature.”

Additionally, they offer a subscription service where you can receive 10 new photos delivered to your inbox every 10 days, providing a convenient and regular supply of fresh content.

3. Death to the stock photo

Consider this monthly stock photo email as a delightful and beneficial communication rather than spam. Signing up is simple and free, requiring only your email address. As a special welcome gift, you’ll receive a complimentary photo pack immediately.

While the initial impression may be that the photos appear generic, their subjects and styles make them well-suited for purposes like website backgrounds. The only drawback is the lack of precise search functionality, necessitating some exploration if you have specific requirements.

4. IM free

IM Creator, primarily a website-building tool, also offers a curated selection of premium photos for design purposes. Their meticulously categorized collections showcase images that rival or surpass the quality of paid stock photos, and they can be used freely for personal and commercial projects. It’s important to note that attributions are mandatory for images sourced from this site, but the exceptional quality of the photos makes the requirement worthwhile.

5. Roumrot

When using free-to-use images under a creative commons license, it’s important to properly attribute them on your website. If you plan to incorporate these images into your own designs, check if modification is permitted and if you need to indicate any changes made. Additionally, be mindful of registered trademarks, as they have separate guidelines from creative commons licenses. Although there is no direct search feature, the images are well-organized by categories and provide details such as styles, design templates, and camera specifications.

6. Picjumbo

The extensive and expanding collection of images by Viktor Hanácek is user-friendly and offers free stock photos that generally do not need attribution. The website is supported by ads, enabling Viktor to continue capturing photos while traveling. It is particularly valuable for food-related businesses or blogs in need of high-quality food shots.

7. Life of Pix

The generous team at Canadian advertising agency Leeroy and their network of photographers have donated this collection of public domain, high-resolution images. There are no copyright restrictions, with weekly updates and even a link to a site offering free stock videos. It’s heartwarming when people show such kindness.

8. Public domain archive

This website focuses on showcasing and exploring treasures captured by talented photographers, offering a unique collection of high-quality vintage and modern photographs. If you’re seeking generic “shutterstock” images, you won’t find them here, but the collection is definitely worth exploring.

9. Jay Mantri

The stock photography collection mainly focuses on expansive landscapes and atmosphere-building images, making it valuable for web designers. No attributions are required, making it convenient to use. New photos are added weekly on Thursdays. While subcategories lack a search function, the archive offers a smaller grid layout for easy scanning of potentially suitable images.

10. Gratisography

Photographer Ryan McGuire generously offers these 100% free stock images, which bring humor and entertainment. While a search function is absent, scrolling through various categories speeds up the search. Attribution and payment are not obligatory, but shout-outs and donations to the coffee fund are welcomed, as caffeine enhances the quality of his work.


In conclusion, finding the right image for your graphic design project can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. As we’ve seen, there are a wide variety of options available, ranging from free to paid stock photo sites. When selecting an image, it’s important to keep in mind your project’s tone and message, as well as any legal restrictions or copyright issues.

To help with this process, some of our recommended stock photo sites include Shutterstock, Canva, and Adobe Stock for their extensive libraries and quality images. For free images, Unsplash and Pexels offer a great selection. But remember, just because an image is free doesn’t mean it’s free to use for commercial purposes.

Make sure to read the usage rights carefully before downloading any image. By following these tips and utilizing the resources available, you’ll be able to find images that best fit your needs and make your designs stand out.

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