Investing in high quality photography is something we really recommend for all small businesses – it’s near impossible to build a good looking (and effective) website without good imagery, and need your brand’s aesthetics to be cohesive across your socials too.
Good photography not only makes your website look sexy, it also helps to convey who you are and what you sell. It’s another puzzle piece to help customers figure out if you’re the small business for them.
We truly think it’s worth every penny, and listed it in our blog, 5 things to scrimp on (and 5 to splurge on) when you’re starting a small creative business.
However, you might not have so many of those pennies to be commissioning a brand photography shoot, so what the heck are you supposed to do then?
You use stock photos, my guys.
We thought it’d be handy to share some of our favourite stock photography resources, to make it nice and easy for you.
1. Unsplash, our first stop for stock photos
Unsplash is an amazing stock photography resource, providing over 3 million high quality, freely usable images from talented photographers – that means that all images can be downloaded and used for free for both commercial and non-commercial purposes, without needing to gain any permission.
It’s also free to join, plus if you have some hi-res imagery that isn’t quite right for your small business but could be useful for someone else’s, you can upload your photography for others to use.
2. Pexels, stock photos & video all in one place
Similarly to Unsplash, the stock photos and videos on Pexels are free to download and use. Although there are a few simple guidelines, you are allowed to use them on your website, blog and social media, so that should have most small businesses covered.
As we are all painfully aware, social platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest are leaning more towards video content these days, after witnessing the success of TikTok, but we’re not all that great at shooting video. Aime totes loves using Pexels, and demonstrated some ways to use their stock videos over on Instagram.
We also love Pexels because they tend to have multiple images from the same shoot, making it more useful as a source of cohesive photography for a brand.
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3. Moyo Studio, the luxe designer’s go-to
With an offering of impeccably styled stock photography, scene creators and mockups, Moyo Studio is an incredible resource for small businesses. It’s not free, but you can get 50 free images when you sign up to their mailing list.
At Studio Cotton, we’ve used Moyo Studio mockups countless times, as a classy way to show off our website design projects or to show examples of excellent Instagram bios in a blog post.
4. Creative Market, a stock photo marketplace
With nearly 4 million stock photographs, fonts, templates and more, Creative Market is a one-stop shop
We love the stock photography bundles you can find on Creative Market, allowing you to build a bank of cohesive photography for your small business, at a very reasonable price.
Another place that you can find photography bundles to build the brand imagery for your small business – just type “stock photo bundle” or “stock photography” into the search bar, and browse until you find a set which matches your branding.
There’s a wide price range, which is reflected in the quality of some of the imagery, but with a little patience and a small amount of scrolling, it’s likely you’ll find some stock photography that will work for your small business.
6. Weronika Karczewska, our Bristol business bestie
The very talented Weronika used to work with us here at Studio Cotton, but left us to become a photographer full time. She spends most of her days shooting product photography – check out her packages to see if that’s something you could invest in – but also has a stock photography bundle and a stock video bundle available in her shop.
Her beautifully styled photos are always light, bright and effortlessly elegant, making them really versatile for all sorts of brands and uses.
If you follow a photographer on Instagram because you love their style and it aligns with your brand identity, it’s worth checking out their website to see if they offer any stock photography bundles too.
Optimise your stock photography
Once you’ve downloaded your images and before you upload them to your website, make sure they’re optimised for website use. Unmanaged images can destroy your search engine optimisation (SEO) and they’ll make your website run slow – we really don’t want that, as Google ranks fast websites way higher than those pesky slow ones.
Luckily for you, Aime created this mega helpful 10 minute tutorial for optimising your images on a Mac, which makes it suuuuper easy and will save you loads of time.
Now go forth and find that perfect imagery for your lovely small business, and you can thank us by sharing this blog post, if you like.