Whether you’re a blogger or marketing agency, you share one common goal: finding the best stock photos. And now that diversity marketing is finally the norm, not the exception, you need website-ready inclusive imagery. Well, look no further. In this royalty-free photography list, you’ll find photos of diverse people in stunning settings. Some of the sites in my list offer free stock photography. They also all have photos with similar prices to Shutterstock (but they look so much better)!
Real People Photos vs. Staged Stock Photography
You might be wondering: What’s wrong with Shutterstock?
One of the problems with the big-brand stock photography is the obvious “staged model” look to them. The worst is when models look straight at the camera and smile — while in awkward positions. These dental office shots are prime examples. Smiles. So. Big. (Must be the Percocet!)
Notice anything about the montage? Yep. Everyone has smooth hair and light skin. No size or age diversity. No uniqueness of any kind.
Until recently, finding stock photos of happy, contemporary diverse people was nearly impossible. For instance, when searching keywords like diverse people on the beach, in a park, at work, or shopping…I got nada.
Thankfully, some entrepreneurs noticed this void and filled it! Before I show you the best resources I’ve found, here’s a brief PSA for all the photographers out there.
When looking for specific imagery, if you have the budget for it, please try to…
Support Your Local Photographer
If the message you want to convey in your marketing is authenticity or individuality, generic shots won’t do. For specific imagery or settings, I use a local Vancouver source called Sashique Photography. Most of her photos are commissioned, as a one-time sale only. But these days, many photographers are creating online stock libraries. So if you find a local photographer that you like, ask if they have any non-exclusive shots for sale. It never hurts to ask.
Now for my list of the best free stock photography…
1. The Best Stock Photos for Website Banners
One of the best free photography resources, in my opinion, is CreateHER. Not only is the quality of the shots stellar in colour, theme and style, but the compositions and dimensions are absolutely PERFECT for websites.
Notice how CreateHER photos leave some space for text to go? This is crucial for website banner text. When it comes to inclusive imagery that’s website ready, these ladies are on top of their game. CreateHer offers both free pics, as well as more exclusive for-purchase options.
2. The Best Resource for Inclusive Imagery
Tonl features stunning photos of various cultures from around the globe. The angles, lighting and spirit of the people in the photos are unique and full of life. So if you’re looking for photos with natural poses and diverse people of all sizes, ages and skin-tones, you will love Tonl. I’d say they’re far better than Getty Images and Shutterstock’s forced, posed shots!
Costs: One photo is $20. 15 photos cost $29 a month. That averages to only 1.93 a shot! Get 45 or 75 images a month and save even more. Considering the photographic quality and the fact that these photos are not over-used, this is a bargain.
3. The Best Free Stock Photography
As a former art student, I find Nappy’s work to be exceptionally artistic in quality. They have everything from action shots, aerial views, and beautiful portraits. Sure, their library may be small (for now). But what they lack in bulk, they make up for in beauty. If you’ve used Colorstock before they closed shop, you’ll appreciate Nappy even more. Be sure to bookmark them for diversity marketing images.
If you’re a photographer making relevant work, submit your shots to Nappy. The process is easy!
Diversity Marketing Shows How Life Really Is
Until these sites came up, finding great free stock photography of diverse people was almost impossible. Now I can find students, ballerinas, techies — you name it — in every colour, size and age. Plus they’re depicted doing cool things, they’re shot artistically, and they’re in interesting settings.
What about you? Are you a writer, marketing pro, or web designer looking for free stock photography of inclusive imagery? If so, let me know if these resources for diversity marketing come in handy for your next project. Thanks for reading!