Images make all the difference.
Ever attended a presentation and found yourself staring at slides that were filled with nothing but words, words and more words?
Or maybe you were the one speaking and thought that visuals would be distracting, and hence did not add them in.
Why is that the case?
Here is an explanation by Dr. Lynell Burmark, Ph.D. Associate at the Thornburg Center for Professional eDevelopment and writer of several books and papers on visual literacy.
“…unless our words, concepts, ideas are hooked onto an image, they will go in one ear, sail through the brain, and go out the other ear. Words are processed by our short-term memory where we can only retain about 7 bits of information (plus or minus 2). Images, on the other hand, go directly into long-term memory where they are indelibly etched.”
A study (1986) at the University of Minnesota School of Management also proved a similar case. It found that presenters who use visual aids were 43% more effective in persuading audience members to take a desired course of action compared to presenters who don’t use visuals.
That is surely enough evidence that great visuals is essential in amplifying the impact of your slides.
But finding stock photos, particularly ones that are free, can be hard. Some websites have limitations. For example, the stock photo is only free if it is for non-commercial use. Some would require you to pay a certain fee for a higher resolution photo.
So, what websites provide high-resolution photos for absolutely no cost at all? We’ve got you covered in the list below!
PS. All these sites are also attribution-free, so you do not have to worry about breaking copyright laws!
DesignersPics is a photo library by photographer Jeshu John. The photos have been edited to have a similar feel and scheme.
Unsplash’s library is full of images that are unmatched in quality and composition. There is also an option to receive ten new photos every ten days in your inbox when you subscribe to them. This is one of the more famous and well-known options that lets you search for images you’re looking for.
One of my personal favourites, it aggregates some of the top CC0 (commercial without attribution) images in one convenient place. The search also references Unsplash’s repository as well.
Pixabay boasts more than 1,000,000 visual resources like stock photography and graphic illustrations for designers, absolutely free. The engine references pictures from other repositories so you get an all-in-one-platform.
Raydar is a search engine for free and budget stock photos. Great for designers looking to put together work that requires high-quality stock photography really, really fast.
Dreamstime has a section of stock images that is searchable and frequently updated. It requires you to create an account before downloading the photos. The photos aren’t edited or curated, so some digging is required. But you will be greatly rewarded when you do find stunning photos!
A database for all the food photos you’ll ever need, FoodiesFood’s declious photos will make you and your audience’s mouths drool.
Free Nature Stock
Free Nature Stock was created and is maintained by Adrian Pelletier. As its name suggests, the photos uploaded are of nature. The website is updated daily.
Free Photos Bank
Free Photos Bank provides a searchable database of free stock images. However, the small thumbnails make browsing to find the perfect photo a challenge.
Getrefe contains beautifully edited & curated photos of lifestyle and scenery that are free. If you’re after Tumblr and Instagram worthy pictures, these photos hit that mark. You do not have to create an account to download their photos.
Photos on ISO Republic are shot by photographer Tom Eversley. He created the site for designers and marketers who may be working on small or independent projects, and don’t have the budget for high-quality photography.
New Old Stock contains images from earlier eras that are curated by Cole Townsend. The images are from a long time ago, so some of them might not be high resolution, but for authentic retro images, this site is worth checking out.
Photos Public Domain
The photos in Photos Public Domain have been released to the public domain, so they are free to use for any purpose. Most of the photos aren’t edited.
Plixs is a collection of photos released to the public domain and are free to use.
Picography is a simple gallery that provides edited photos. Photos can be used for ay purpose.
Public Domain Archive
A mixture of both vintage and modern images, Public Domain Archive is a good website to check out depending on what you’re searching for.
Skitter Photo is a site by three photographers based in the Netherlands, with photos that are free for any use.
Smithsonian Institute on Flickr has about 3000 images that have been released to the public domain. So, you’re free to download and use the images, without attribution or other restriction. The site allows you to search by tags.
Snapwire Snaps uploads seven free photos to its site every week. Its photos are all released to the public domain.
Created by photographer Daniel Nanescu for personal or commercial use. His photos are all incredibly high quality.
With over 50,000 images on its site, Stockvault contains a myriad of images, renders, and textures.
Stokpic contains pictures that convey happiness through the brightness of each image and are all high quality.
Cupcake is a photo library created by photographer Jonas Nilsson Lee that contains his beautifully shot and edited photos that are free to use for any purpose.
Started by Visual and UX designer and Lean Startup coach Daria N, Epicantus is a library of edited images that she has provided for public use without attribution. Photos are uploaded weekly.
Gratisography is a collection of photographs by Ryan McGuire. His photos veer on the quirky side and are highly edited.
Jay Mantri uploads 7 new high-quality photos every Thursday. His photos all emote a sense of moodiness and melancholy.
A compilation of a little of everything, from nature to people to architecture, Jeshoots provides free images for any purpose. Photos are categorised for easier searching.
Life of Pix
Donated to the public domain by Leeroy Advertising Agency in Montreal, the photos on Life of Pix are edited beautifully and free to use. Photos are uploaded weekly.
Every week, Little Visuals offers seven high-qualityc images for download. The photos have a similar feel to them, with moody, atmosphere images and textures.
Shot by photographer Jeffrey Betts, the photos on MMT.li are of nature. If you’re looking for high-resolution macro shots, this site is all you need. Photos are uploaded weekly.
– A site dedicated to photos of the eastern side of the world, Moveast contains stunning visuals captured by Portuguese photographer João Pacheco.
Focused on the business and technology side of things, Startup Stock is good if you’re searching for images of startups and for startups.
Pikwizard is a new addition to the list and with over 60,000 high-quality images in their library already, they are a welcome addition. One great thing about Pikwizard is the number of images of people in their database, which is often few and far between on free stock photo sites.
There you go, 34 websites to help you get started in turning your presentations from “meh” to “AMAZING!”. Remember that visuals are there to amplify the storytelling element of your slides.
However, just be mindful not use visuals that are too visually jarring. Less is always more. So go on, explore the sites listed above and create beautiful presentations!