Stock photography is a whole world that exists on the Internet yet to be fully appreciated by South African digital creatives.

And though it’s not a new concept to many, I do notice people tend to Google images and then use the first one that fits the project/blog or social media posts, many times rather poorly. Personally, I’ve always tried to use captivating and high-quality images on my social media platforms and blog posts, simply because I do believe content should be at a certain standard. No dig at B Grade content but dig I guess.

Stock photography is high-quality images, professionally taken and include common concepts or settings such as people, culture, nature, landmarks etc. These images can then be sold for money or a be put up for free use. The entire concept is for the images to be used in commercial design.

Now depending on what you’re looking for, there are so many free use commercial stock photography sites out there. I do find myself gravitating towards these quite often though.

1. Unsplash 

Unsplash has always and will probably always be my first love in stock photography sites. The quality of content here is superior to most with professionals purely sharing images for the joy of photography as a whole. I pick up images here on a daily basis and I can guarantee you, depending on whatever your niche is you’ll find this inspiring on a daily basis.

2. Pexels

Another great site that I’ve grown fond of. I do find more concentrated niche photography here and I look for inspiration in macro photography here quite often.

3. Brwn Stock Imaging 

Exclusively showcasing beautiful POC people. They do charge for the images, but they also do cater to the lack of representation in the market.

I am dabbling in photography and am starting up a business on the side, Granular Photography. But that doesn’t always mean I have the time, resources or even the expertise as yet to pull off these brilliant areots which is why I do use stock photography. I don’t think it’s a cop out at all. But with that being said, there are a few rules to remember when using stock photography in your work. Now that you have some great sites to contribute to or use work from, do keep in mind that there are some unspoken rules.

Do state it’s not your work 

This is important because people do catch feelings if you leave out this information it also isn’t fair to the actual photographer. I hate seeing people use imagery that isn’t their’s and give no credit. I always state on my IG posts as well as my blog posts, which images are mine and which arent.

Do credit the photographer 

Again, important. If you can’t (can’t find the photographer etc.), do still give credit – I go with “credit to the unknown photographer” or give out the site you sourced your imagery from. I’m always happy to clarify because I run a genuine operation here and don’t take credit for work that is not mine. If I don’t state who the photographer is or credit the source, it’s because the work is mine.

Appreciate what you see 

The perfect shot sometimes includes standing in the shower trying to balance yourself because the light is just right. Photography is an art, a talent. Don’t diminish our work and effort to simply “Googling images and using whatever comes up”

A rabbit hole of inspiration awaits. Promise.


Image: 100% Me