Welcome to the wild and wonderful world of stock photos. Sometimes you find exactly what you’re looking for, and sometimes you find a “young zombie surfing with a smartphone outside the office.” (It really exists.)
Pixabay is one of the most popular stock photo sites because it offers over 2 million images, vectors, videos, and music clips that are all free ninety-nine. But it’s not the only stock photo site on the block. Depending on your favorite flavor of stock photos, you may enjoy one of these Pixabay alternatives instead.
An overview of Pixabay
Pixabay offers 2.3 million+ high quality stock photos, illustrations, vectors, videos, and music. Finding the stock photo you need for your blog, social media posts or website is as easy as typing a term into the search box and browsing what’s available.
Pixabay’s license for stock content allows you to use the content for free for both commercial and noncommercial use across print and digital without attribution. You can also edit or alter the content to make it your own. However, you can’t sell unaltered copies of images or redistribute content on other stock or wallpaper platforms.
One cool thing about Pixabay is that it allows you to donate to the stock contributors. All you have to do is hook your PayPal account up to your Pixabay account, and you can donate to a contributor whose content you enjoy.
But Pixabay may not be for everyone. With so many stock photos at your fingertips, you may find the sheer number of photos overwhelming. If you’re not lucky, it could take you a while to browse through all the photos to find the one you like best. And in the end, you may still not find what you’re looking for. That’s why having a few Pixabay alternatives you can go to is helpful when you’re in search of the perfect stock photo.
Top Pixabay alternatives for your business creative needs
Shutterstock’s mission is to help “creative professionals from all backgrounds and businesses of all sizes produce their best work with incredible content and innovative tools, all on one platform.” It seems to be working toward that goal as over 1 billion images, video clips, and music tracks have been downloaded from the site in its lifetime.
With over 1 million contributors, Shutterstock has plenty of high quality images, footage, music, templates, and editorial photos to choose from. The platform also offers 3D models via Turbosquid. There are over 350 million images in the library with 102,000 new images added every day.
However, unlike Pixabay, not all of these images are free. You can download some images for free without an account. While other images can be purchased at a flat rate or obtained through one of Shutterstock’s subscription options, which allow you to download a certain number of paid images, clips, songs, and more each month.
If you don’t want to search through all that content yourself, you can use Shutterstock’s curated collections to find what you’re looking for. With a curated category for literally everything, from “life at home” to “portraits of diversity,” you can find what you’re looking for without spending too much time combing through the search results.
Why you want it: With Shutterstock, you have access to celebrity photos, editorials, and more.
Pricing: Plans start at $29/month (billed annually) with the option for on-demand packs priced per image
Pexels is a Pixabay alternative that offers free, high-quality stock images and videos that you can use for both commercial and non-commercial projects. The photos found here are similar to the quality you would find on Pixabay, but of course, you’ll find images here that you may not find on any other stock photo site.
While not quite as organized as Shutterstock, Pexels also offers curated collections around different topics, making it easier for you to find what you’re looking for. On the “Discover” tab, you can look through popular collections, recommended images, photography by topic, and even photos by color.
With images from Pexels, you do not have to credit the photographer, but you can donate if you like their content. This platform also supports its creators in additional ways beyond the ability to accept donations. It features images on its home page, has a leaderboard of the most downloaded artists, and it allows you to follow creators so you can see when they post new content.
Why you want it: Pexels has a more intuitive interface than Pixabay, and the curated collections make it easier to browse without getting overwhelmed.
3. Adobe Stock
Adobe Stock is another Pixabay alternative that offers royalty-free stock photos, illustrations, videos, and audio files. You can purchase a subscription plan to get a certain number of assets each month or get stock assets on demand with credits.
The greatest benefit of Adobe Stock is that it integrates with Creative Cloud. This means that while you’re working on any design in an Adobe app, you can import a stock image from Adobe Stock without purchasing it.
Then, when you are done with the design, you pay only for the images that you ended up using. This process allows you to try out different assets to see which works best without having to pay for all of them.
While some paid stock photo platforms only offer membership options, Adobe Stock also allows you to purchase credits for individual images when you need them. The on-demand option is great for those who don’t need stock images on a monthly basis but only need to purchase assets every once in a while.
With curated collections and images separated by categories, it’s easy to find what you’re looking for on Adobe Stock. This platform also has an enhanced Premium stock photo collection as well as editorial images that offer newsworthy stock images and videos from around the globe.
Why you want it: If you’re a Creative Cloud user, then this is the easiest stock photo resource to incorporate into your workflow as it integrates with Creative Cloud.
Pricing: Starting at $29.99/month for 10 assets/month.
Jump Story is a Pixabay alternative that aims to transform the stock photo industry by offering authentic, high-performing images that stand out from the more cliché ones found on other stock photo sites. The platform uses machine learning to look for images of “real humans with real emotions.” Their goal is to find stock photography that represents the real world.
If you’re sick of using stock photos featuring people who are WAY too happy to be real, then you may appreciate JumpStory’s more authentic approach to stock photos. They aim to include more diversity in their images, which means that you don’t have to look far to find images of people with different body types or from different ethnic backgrounds.
JumpStory also makes it easy to find the types of images you’re looking for. You can search through millions of photos, videos, illustrations, vectors and icons, using filters to set your preferences such as orientation, location, color, etc.
Another interesting feature of JumpStory is its built-in photo editing tools. The photo editor is simple yet effective, allowing you to crop and resize images while inserting text, adjusting the contrast, or inserting your own logo. You can even remove the background!
Why you want it: JumpStory offers diverse and authentic images that look like you may have taken them yourself (if you were a professional photographer).
Pricing: $39/month when paid monthly or $19/month when paid annually
While Gratisography is yet another free stock photo website, it’s unique in that the photos aim to be quirky, interesting, beautiful, and all the things that stock photos often are not. The platform markets itself as the “world’s quirkiest collection of high-resolution free stock images.”
While that is a tough claim to live up to, all you have to do is browse through the site for a few minutes to get an understanding of how the photos on Gratisography are unlike the typical free stock photos. Unlike other sites, Gratisography does not boast a large quantity, but rather a purposefully curated collection of “only the most interesting pictures, the ones with a personality, a perspective, a story to tell.”
Photos on this platform can be used for both personal and commercial purposes. You can adapt or modify the images to make them your own. (You can even sell the work that incorporates these modified images.) However, you can’t redistribute them on other sites or sell them unaltered.
Download free photos and vectors without opening an account. But be careful not to click on the sponsored ads from Shutterstock, unless you want to pay for them!
Why you want it: Gratisography gives you no shortage of quirky and unique images in high resolution.
Storyblocks was born out of the need for accessible, affordable stock content for creatives. With a subscription model, Storyblocks provides high-quality stock video, audio, and images at an affordable rate.
With Storyblocks, you get unlimited downloads for a low monthly rate. Even after your subscription is no longer active, you still have unlimited usage of the files you downloaded while the subscription was active.
Images on Storyblocks are royalty-free in perpetuity. They can also be used worldwide with unlimited usage for both individual and commercial projects. The standard license covers any content that you’re using in projects that cost less than $20,000.
Storyblocks stands out from other platforms in that it offers a great variety of stock videos that you can have unlimited access to through their membership.
Their library contains millions of HD and 4K videos as well as motion backgrounds and After Effects templates. These are also curated into collections like “wanderlust inspired” and “lyric video templates” to help you find what you’re looking for quickly.
Why you want it: If you use stock content often, then the low-cost subscription for unlimited downloads makes the most sense for you.
Pricing: Unlimited access for $30/month
Unsplash is powered by a community of generous photographers. With over 2 million free high-resolution images, you can find photos of just about anything you need from business and work photos to nature or architecture shots.
The Unsplash team hand selects the photos, which means you don’t have to sift through the really bad (or really weird) stock photos to get to the good stuff. Search through the featured image topics at the top of the page or type what you’re looking for into the search bar.
With photographers adding new content to the site, there’s always fresh content. In fact, the platform updates with 10 new royalty-free images every 10 days. So if you can’t find what you’re looking for one week, you may be able to find it the next week.
All of the photos that are published on Unsplash fall under the Creative Commons Zero license. This means that you can use the images for free for both commercial and personal use. When you use, copy, or edit the photos for your project or a client’s project, you don’t need to credit the photographer or Unsplash.
The platform not only groups photos by topic (like nature, health, fashion, animals, and travel), but it also groups photos together within the collections by textures, colors, moods, and themes. This helps you really find the image that says exactly what you want it to exactly how you want it to.
Why you want it: Images are free, and you don’t have to have an account to download them.
8. Startup Stock Photos
Startup Stock Photos is a niche stock photo site that makes up for the features it lacks in its simplicity and wide variety of startup-related photography. All of the photos are Creative Commons Zero, which means you can use them for free in any project without attribution.
Startup Stock Photos offers exactly what it sounds like. Photos of people in startup environments and other relevant photos of people working, writing, designing, planning, creating concept maps, and… well, anything else a startup might do.
There are no fancy features with this platform. No curated collections or search features. It’s just a page full of free photos that you can download without signing up for any account or jumping through any hoops. While there isn’t a huge selection, everything there is relevant to a startup’s needs.
Why you want it: Startups in need of stock photography for their social media content, blog posts, and websites can find what they’re looking for here.
9. ColorJoy Stock
ColorJoy Stock is a membership-style stock photo platform with three different options for membership. Once you are a member, you get access to over 3,000 diverse images and Canva templates that help take some of the stress out of creating content.
It’s often difficult to find different representations of diverse women in traditional stock photos in terms of skin tones and body types. ColorJoy Stock is solving the problem of lack of representation by offering beautiful stock photography that’s both modern and inclusive.
By including diverse women of different ethnicities and body types, these professional stock photos allow businesses to show up, build trust, and grow their businesses in a way that aligns with their values. The photos are beautifully styled, offering bold, bright photographs that celebrate all types of women.
Why you want it: If you’re looking for more inclusive imagery and/or your audience is made up of women, this unique stock photo platform will allow you to celebrate the diversity of women in your images.
Pricing: $29/month, $99/quarter, or $299/year
10. Haute Stock
Haute Stock is a premium visual content membership that offers carefully styled and curated stock photos. The membership also offers customizable marketing templates, designer branding elements, videos, and monthly marketing guides.
Haute Stock goes beyond just the typical stock images by not only giving you beautiful photography to use in your content but also social media and blog post templates to improve your overall visual marketing. You can also find collections of icons, backgrounds, patterns, stickers and more in the Graphics Pack.
This platform is about quality over quantity, and its images are curated for modern brands that want clean, bright, and visually interesting stock images that align with their branding. Overall, the images that come with this membership help brands look like they had a professional photoshoot without the price tag.
Why you want it: If you or your clients have a luxury brand or a brand whose audience is primarily women, then you’ll love the beautiful photos and flatlays on Haute Stock.
Pricing: $139 every 3 months or $399 every year
Choosing a Pixabay alternative
This is by no means an exhaustive list of Pixabay alternatives. However, it is a great place to start if you are looking for stock photo sites that offer high-quality stock images that are easy to find.
If you want a high volume of more general stock photos, then Shutterstock, Pexels, Adobe stock, Storyblocks, and Unsplash are great places to start. But if you’re looking for something beyond the typical stock image, then Jump Story, Gratisography, ColorJoy, and Haute Stock are all great choices.
While you’re on the hunt for great stock photos, be sure to check out AppSumo’s stock photo deals for even more options!
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