Tired of the ho-hum (and somewhat costly) offerings at stock photo repositories such as iStockPhoto, Getty Images, and the like? Here are some lesser-known alternatives.
- Little Visuals
This U.K. web site offers up a subscription-based platter of seven high resolution photos each week. Just sign up and subscribe to Little Visuals in your email inbox. There are also previous weeks’ offerings available as a Zip download from a DropBox account, but at the time of writing, the DropBox account was issuing 509 (server overload) errors. Still, worth it because you can browse and download individual photos, like the sample here. Each week seems to follow a different theme. The current week (Week 12) offers scenic photographs, while Week 11 is offering abstract light patterns.
Like Little Visuals, this Canadian stock photo repository offers 10 high resolution, Public Domain Dedication photos every 10 days. Subscription-based, of course. There are a wide range of photo subjects, a sample below.
- Death to the Stock Photo
Columbus, Ohio-based professional photographers David Sherry and Allie Lehman are behind Death to the Stock Photo. They have generals rights and few restrictions on how their photographs can be used. It’s a subscription-based program, as explained by the photographers: Join other creatives for free monthly photo packs curated and crafted by our photographers.
- New Old Stock
According to the web site, New Old Stock specializes in Vintage photos from the public archives; free of known copyright restrictions. There’s no subscription; the photos are displayed on the web site (which is actually powered by Tumblr) in no particular order, free for the taking. Unfortunately, there’s noway to search using keywords; you’ll just have to browse the site. The photos are of varying quality, some better than others, but you cannot beat free and if your project calls for a vintage look, I’d go here first. Here’s a sample.
Requires 3.0 Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution license. Superfamous is the Los Angeles-based studio of Dutch interaction designer Folkert Gorter. Browse the site and download your chose photograph in a variety of high-resolution sizes.
Picjumbo is the brainchild of Czech web designer Viktor Hanacek. These are his personal photographs on which he places no restrictions on their use other than not to resell them or offer them for free or resale on your own photo repository web site. The photos are cataloged so the perfect one is easy to find. If you want access to more photographs, there’s a Premium version of Picjumbo, a subscription costing you just $6 per month. Sample photo below.
- The Pattern Library
The Pattern Library is a project by Tim Holman (an Aussie transplanted to New York City) and Claudio Guglieri (creative in San Francisco), which “compiles patterns shared by the most talented designers out there for you to use freely in your designs. The site is very minimalist and there’s no way to search for patterns, simply browse the site. There’s no subscription required. A sample pattern is below.
Gratisography was created by Ryan McGuire who is also behind the web design studio Bells Design. All photos are Ryan’s own creations and they are completely free of copyright restrictions. No subscription fee. Sample (quite whimsical) photo below.
Refe bills itself as a marketplace for mobile photos, but I am not quite sure what that means. I hope it might mean responsive photos. The photos there are categorized and you can search. So far, all are free (despite that there is a cart checkout, the dollar amount shown is $0.00). Nice!
The site, first conceived by Michael Connors in 1996, bills itself as a resource for creatives by creatives: “The purpose of this site is to provide free image reference material for use in all creative pursuits. This is the world wide web’s morguefile.” Be careful when browsing this site as there are several levens of licenses, not all of which are free
Joni Mueller has been designing web sites for hire since 2003, when she first blew up her web host’s server by insisting on running Greymatter. Since then, Joni has designed for Blogger and Movable Type, TextPattern, WordPress and CMS Made Simple. She lives with her cat and shoe collection in a bucolic old section of Houston called Idylwood. For some strange reason, Joni likes to refer to herself in the third person. When she’s not working on web design, she’s ordering lawyers around. And blogging about it. Or both.