As a web designer, I know first hand that stock photos can elevate or destroy a good website. As a social media marketer, I see how photo quality in social posts can make or break a brand.
And if you only use the free photos from the big companies, you run the risk of that photo being used by a competitor. I see it happen all the time with Pinterest and Instagram photos. Heck, it even happened to me. I picked a gorgeous free photo to brand a services section of my site and a few weeks later I saw someone else doing nearly the same thing.Using popular, free stock photos dilutes your brand and says to people that you're not serious about your biz. Click To Tweet
So I’ve put together a list of amazing small businesses and entrepreneurs who sell stock photos. For those of you who don’t quite have a budget yet for stock photos, I encourage you to still check them out. Many of them offer a free stock photo with their newsletter subscription. (Some of my favorite stock photos come from the newsletter freebies!) And since these are all smaller companies, the use of these images will enhance your brand, not dilute it. You won’t run into 30 other people using the same photo. You’ll be unique, and you’ll be helping a fellow small biz owner or blogger grow their business!
These 15 Small Businesses Have Spectacular Stock Photos That Will Elevate Your Brand
Stock photos from these 15 small businesses will elevate your brand (many give stock photo freebies!) Click To Tweet
- Haute Chocolate is one of my favorites—I’ve used many of her freebie photos on my Instagram.
- JennaRedfieldDesigns focuses on the needs of web designers and she is another photographer whose work you’ve seen on my Instagram account. (Her desktop flat lays are phenomenal!)
- Creative Convex has a breathtaking shop with tons of styled photos, ranging from flat lays and empty frames ready to be photoshopped, to iPhone and laptop mockups.
- Twigy Posts has a gorgeous stock photo library and sends stock photos freebies with their newsletter.
- CGS Creative will soon launch their “stock with heart” library and will make custom-styled photos for your brand.
- Charuk Studios not only gives away freebies, her portfolio will make you swoon.
- Kory Mae has gorgeous desktop stock photos
- Style.Undone.Creative has free stock photos and does custom style and photography
- Turquoise and Palm has a stock photo library that has many event space and decoration stock photos—great for event planning and bloggers!
- Ivory Mix has a library subscription and sends out freebies in their newsletter
- The Photo Forest lets you request what you want in your photo and they’ll create the stock image for you!
- R Artspace sends you a styled photo pack once a month with their newsletter
- Cristina Elisa Photography gives out stock photos freebies in her newsletter
- Heart Take the Wheel has a membership site that gives you access to a library of stock photos and lets you put in requests
- Native State Design Co. has a mix of styled flat lay and real-life photos to choose from
A Note About Custom Styled Photos from your friendly neighborhood web designer
When you’re on a tight budget, it’s great to purchase styled photos and to customize them with colored overlays or custom text. But when you’re ready to go pro, it’s time for you to custom order your own styled photos. Some of the businesses on this list offer this service—they meet with you about your brand and create a styled photos unique to your audience’s needs and your blog or website’s needs.
For example, let’s say you need a huge hero image on top for a welcome mat. You don’t want that image to be a busy, styled desktop photo; you need something gorgeous, compelling, and simple. You can hire someone to create a high-res styled photo with a colorful background that gives you plenty of space to add your text and call to action. Or let’s say you want some gorgeous styled vertical photography for your sidebar. (Those are really hard to come by!) It would be worth it to hire someone to create custom styled photos that look great on your sidebar.