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Ask HN: Where can I find high-end stock images for a website?
600 points by tixocloud on Nov 1, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 77 comments

In the past not all images on pexels.com had the correct license or did check the license. We stopped using pexels some time ago.

Thanks! I will stop using it

Great list! Now I'm looking for a similar list for icons. And fonts.

https://resourcecards.com/ is a great resource for literally anything you need :D

Google Fonts

This is probably off topic and will irritate designers around the world. But personally I disable all custom fonts. I have two. Helvatica equivalent and a monospace. Sizing is limited to 8-14 depending on screen resolution

Another reason to block Google Fonts is that it's (yet another) source of tracking data for them, not sure if you can self-host those though. Personally from the sites I've looked at with and without Google Fonts, it's not much of a loss.

I agree why give google everything? You could try http://brick.im/fonts/ brick fonts is at least a choice.. I have used it and it seems fine..I have yet to expand use of brick fonts but on some sites I see no issues.. nice choice of fonts as well

WHOLLY! Thank you very much. I'll be going through and every one of those. Though judging from the popularity of this thread, probably likely other startups will have the same images as me :)

Hey, yeah its a super good list. As others have pointed out, it really depends on what you wanna do with the picture. A few of my favorites are Stocksy and Cavan. On the more user generated side you have eyeem and 500px. And on the high high end you have getty. Check out Haystack.im and let me know if its helpful.

Thanks. I'll check it out. I just want to avoid those cheesy, unprofessional stock images - just looks tacky and the people in those images look way too fake when we show our website.

If you let us know a bit more about what you are looking for (two people in a coffee shop ; shark attack ; Williamsburg hipster on a penny farthing) and a budget I can put a gallery together for you....

I was about to share this. 100% free, Creative-Commons Zero.

I personally love unsplash. They have a great community and good collection of high-res images.

Awesome, hn favourited so I can come back to this

I never realized I could favorite a comment on HN. Thanks!

For anyone wondering how: Next to the username of the comment you want to save it will show how long ago the comment was left (ex: "40 minutes ago"). Click on that time and then there is a link at the top where you can click favorite.

Oh wow! Thanks...I've been using HN for years and never realised this was possible!

IIRC it's a relatively new thing in the past year or two... I think

Since it's sharp rise in popularity around ~12 months ago, it seems like every new website on the internet is using unsplash imagery

I highly recommend it. They have some amazing images.

Believe it or not, I've found a decent amount of high quality photos to use on flickr's creative commons search:


Be careful if the photo includes a person’s face prominently. If it does, the person in the photo has likeness rights in the photo[0] which the photographer cannot assign to you without a signed model release form from the subject of the photo. Most Flickr photographers are amateurs who don’t have model release forms for their photos.

Plenty of lawsuits have occurred around the use of Flickr photos without model release forms (there is also a major sub-plot in the Kevin Smith movie “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” that revolves around likeness rights).

Creative Commons is not enough when there are prominent faces in the photo.


That's why it's better to just pay the premium and use getty or another paid stock image site.

Thank you so much!

I had no idea and this makes a big difference with my new website.

Good to know, thanks for this.

Seconding this recommendation. A former hobby of mine was photographically cataloging museum exhibits and uploading them to flickr cc-licensed. I've pulled tons of cc photos from flickr for picture books and other projects. It's a fantastic resource, and only costs you attribution.

Have a list of those Flickr users or albums? Want to grab them and put them in the Internet Archive before Flickr degrades further under Verizon.

Awesome list! I’ve been a death to stock photo subscriber for a while and love their work!

These guys are using deep learning/convolutional neural networks to train their models to detect beautiful/thoughtful photographic images.


They talk about their curation algorithms here:


Note that depending how you find an image, the price may be wildly different. I searched on iStock and found an image for 30 bucks. Then when I later went to purchase it, my google search led me to a page where it was listed for $400. I was eventually able to find it on the $30 page again.

For what it's worth, I did most of my searching in incognito windows to try to avoid this type of problem. It sure didn't work this time!

What do you mean by "high end"? http://www.gettyimages.com/prestige is about as high-end as it gets in stock photography, but you'll also be paying handsomely for it.

Train yourself a GAN and parameterise/create whatever stock image you want!

For the occasional quick & dirty search, Google images could work. You can filter for usage rights.

Example screenshot... https://imgur.com/a/dZ3VH

I didn't see the usage rights filter on the mobile site, but it showed up when I flipped to the desktop version.

I have same question but for not processed images. You can find high quality but highly shopped images on sites like unsplash or low quality not processed images on flickr creative commons search.

But it's very hard to find hight quality images without film effects or other filters.

I have a bookmark folder for these: https://bookmarkos.com/f/PZ_8FUO6Sqw My favorites are Unsplash and Pexels

If you want your stock photos to look authentic and high quality check out https://www.twenty20.com/

Hey @tixocloud, check out https://www.haystack.im Let me know what you think, I am one of the founders.

Thanks. Will check it out.

Can I plug my own little site :- https://www.inspiredpics.co.uk All free for commercial use

I like https://pond5.com, also great for sound effects, music, video footage, illustrations.

https://www.haystack.im/ is a really great aggregator and search tool.

For African related photos https://africanstockphoto.com

https://marketplace.500px.com but it isn't free


Lots of 16+ MP CC0-licensed works and good filtering options.

As a few other folks have pointed out it really depends on what you mean by 'high-end'. The stock photo world is divided in a few different segments: free, microstock, midstock, and premium (as well as commerical and editorial).

Starting at the cheaper/low end you have 'free' imagery (some flavor of Creative Commons Zero [cc0] license) that lots of sites listed here offer. The one caution with free (as I think someone else mentioned below) is that the licenses aren't always clear (what you can and can't use it for) and in some cases the attribution / provenance of the image is wrong / unclear. Meaning that what you think you are ok to use, may have actually been appropriated from someone else; and you are potentially infringing on copyright. I haven't spent enough time on the different free sites to see what their policies are regarding provenance, so your mileage may vary.

Then you have the microstock stock imagery - images that are in the $1-$5/range. Companies in that realm include folks like Shutterstock, 123RF, Dreamstime, and a slew of others. Shutterstock's public filings says that their per image license is something like $2.25 (or it was when I looked maybe a year or two ago). These images are often the ones that people refer to as 'stock' in that they look like stock. Not all of course, but I am sure you know what I am talking about.

Then you have the realm of 'midstock', which is somewhere between (you guessed it) the low end and the highend. There are a lot of players in here, but iStock (from Getty) is probably one of the biggest ones; as well as Adobe's offering (from when they bought a library called Fotolia). This area of the industry is increasingly being carved out as prices either go down down down, or the more unique and premium imagery hold their own.

At the high end of the stock world you have what is called the 'premium' stock photography folks - this includes Offset (from Shutterstock), Getty Images, and the new Premium offering from Adobe. Those are the three big players at the top end of the spectrum, and then you have a lot of smaller studios that sell directly to end consumers and also place their imagery with the big three. So in some cases you can find the same imagery across a lot of different providers.

My background is a photographer and I have images with a bunch of these more premium folks and looking at my royalty statements the average sale is more in the $110 range/image. Or ~50x the low-end of the market. So it really depends on how much $$ you are looking to spend and whether the quality of the image (beauty in the eye of the beholder and all that) is important to you.

The other site (full disclosure, I am one of the founders) to check out is https://haystack.im that aggregates from a couple dozen different stock agencies all in one place (including several listed here like Stocksy, EyeEm, 500px, Cavan, Maskot, ImageSource, and a science-focused site called SciencePhotoLibrary). You can pick one/several agencies to search at any given time and then we boot you off to them for the final license. So we are more like a premium stock photo search engine than a distributor of the stock itself. Think Kayak not Delta.

Hopefully that makes sense. Hit me if you have any stock industry/photography questions. I am at: andrew@haystack.im

Thanks very much for the clarification, Andrew. I'll check your site out, bookmark it and be sure to share with my friends.

Monthly subscription required - my least favourite model.

More to this awesome list. https://swagpix.com

Shameless plug: http://aiphotosearch.com

Unsplash is the best in my opinion.



I always start with the free sites, but usually end up using a paid option especially for images that include people. High quality free landscape type photos seem more common.

SabreCMS comes with 1.8 million OOB

SabreCMS comes with 1.8 million OOB

Unsplash. Just use Unsplash. :D

I always liked LibreStock.com

Will keep this in mind

I use fotosearch.com

sxc.hu has a pretty good free section

I've used the following 2.

1) FREE under Creative Commons CC0 - https://pixabay.com/

2) Mix of FREE & Sponsored / Paid - https://unsplash.com/

All photos on Unsplash are free.

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