There are also many, many gems among the 20+ million other free images at https://commons.wikimedia.org.
The site has an extensive category system that complements keyword-based search, e.g. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Fruit.
(not saying you shouldn't use wikimedia commons, it's a great resource. just don't use it blindly)
1 - The quality of images are not that good. Some are okay, but overall not that good.
2 - Many microstock sites have large volume of decent looking images and you can always find something decent.
3 - You end-up spending more time on these sites trying to find a decent image than you save money.
4 - Photography (quality) is arts and craft. Because of the higher supply the price have come down but they still need to make money.
5 - Model release? Just looking at one of the sites  one of the images had a photo of a skater . I'm not sure if the skater had given a model release or not. But at least with more reputable stock sites you know there is always a model release required.
> 3 - You end-up spending more time on these sites trying to find a decent image than you save money.
This is the real kicker. I found the same with stock icons and vectors. You might get lucky with the free stuff but if you have any needs that aren't completely generic you are better off going to a paid side, spend $20, and save yourself a ton of time.
Having been an istockphoto photographer/contributor since 2005, I can tell you that to be an istockphoto or getty photographer/contributor the bar is high. You need to pass a photography test and every photo uploaded is scrutinized by pros so it doesn't suck. So that it's exposure, framing, quality etc is top notch. Therefore guaranteeing quality at a price.
If you want free photos, you have a better chance of finding ok photos on flickr. When you find one you like contact the photographer and ask if you can use their photo giving them credit on your site. Just be careful with faces in a photo. Sites like istockphoto force all photographers to sign a Model Release form which means no surprises for the people appearing in a photo.
I've known about unsplash and most of the other resources for a while. This weekend I needed to find some images for a landing page I was creating.
The photos you find on websites like death to the stock photo are better quality than most pictures any of us will take. They also have that hipster feel that a lot of start-ups go for with their visual communication. The problem, as semerda has already mentioned is that you have to wait periods at a time to get a small collection of photos. Unless you are extremely lucky, none of those photos will match what you require.
The other problem is that ostensibly, photographs with people and face convert far better than images of landscapes or abstract imagery, which is what most of these websites provide. If they do happen to have people then the uncertainty of release is in question (again, already mentioned in this thread).
Searching for good photographs is really hard. Especially if you don't want to lax your visual requirements. I ended up spending 4 hours searching for a good image to use on Fotolia, a professional paid-for service. If I stuck to free services, I'd still be searching.
What DOES suck about stock photography is understanding the licensing with paid-for sites. A lot of it seems riddled with ambiguity and legalese. For instance, the photos I paid for yesterday - I downloaded them but wasn't asked to provide a domain. Should I be expecting a copyright infringement notice when their bots scan my website? I'll then have to prove I bought the license to use that image. A bit of an inconvenience and sometimes a scary affair.
Another thing that sucks is the ubiquity of white people in stock images. Being in South Africa, and trying to serve the South African market as my primary market, I wanted to find great photos of black people. I'll tell you, it's not easy. Also, comparing about 100 photos, I can anecdotally say that images of black people usually cost less credits than those of white people.
What I do think they are great for is imagery to use for blog posts. I often use them  for blog posts that I write. Just shell out some money for paid photography if you're serious about using photos properly.
If all other things were equal,  might be slightly more substantive. But not if they ripped off another post. HN has a strong bias in favor of original sources (and simple fairness!) so I think we'd better change the url. If anyone wants to make a case for the opposite, we can always change it back.
Edit: there is other, much more obvious blogspam at , so I think this is the right call. Thanks dirtyaura.
I look at marketing material prepared with stock images and fashion catalogues. What do I see? Lots of white faces. Maybe there is a picture in there somewhere of some black girl playing with young Tarquin (who is obviously white). The word 'tokenism' springs to mind.
I don't believe most people care less about what colour people are, however, if you use a lot of stock photography, step back, look at the body of your work and wonder why all the faces are white. It happens. Sometimes all the images that are supplied are of white people, yet you may not notice this until, for some random reason, you get a person of colour showing up. Then the '98% white' trend is revealed.
The thing is that not everyone wants to be white. People might want to be young, thin, beautiful, with a full head of well groomed hair - that is aspirational. So you can keep the old, fat and ugly people out of the marketing material - that is fine. But to consciously or otherwise end up with only white faces is where TV was more than a generation ago. We should have moved on, perhaps even more so than TV as the internets is global rather than parochial.
Now pretend you're in charge of marketing for a company to folks in the US. Pretend your product is aimed at middle-class and up (which a lot of products are-- especially the ones we at HN interact with). What skin color do you choose? If you want your marketing to perform, the faces you use should reflect pie chart of your prospective buyers. For reference, Asians, African Americans, and Hispanics each make up 5-7% of the top quintile in terms of wealth. Whites make up 80%.
I want to see this change, but the change isn't going to come from marketing departments.
I month or so ago, I met a guy who designs the "Opulent 3BHK now available, 1-3 crore" billboards. For those unfamiliar with Indian advertising, such billboards will typically feature a photo of a white lady doing yoga or perhaps in an evening gown. Perhaps a man will be present, admiring her. The actual apartment being advertised is rarely displayed .
I asked him why this is the case. The answer is simply availability of photos - shutterstock just doesn't have Indian yoga ladies/dinner party ladies/etc. Of the ones you do find, most are aesthetically unsuitable.
Here is shutterstock: http://www.shutterstock.com/cat.mhtml?searchterm=yoga+woman&...
Maybe 2 black women, one or two more of questionable ethnicity, and a bunch of white chicks. Searching for "yoga woman indian" gets you a few results, but not exactly a wide selection. A search for "yoga woman desi" gets spelling-corrected to "yoga woman desk".
 Most of them are generic unappealing post-Le Corbusier concrete block structures. Think council housing (UK) or housing projects (US). On the rare occasion that the apartments actually have a moderately appealing appearance, you get to see a picture: http://www.phoenixfountainhead.com/
Nobody is physically young forever and you can't help that - being young is definitely not aspirational (and neither is a head full of hair, by the way). You can't work hard and "earn" your youth, or "earn" your hair. Physical fitness is another thing though, and a person doesn't have to look young in order to look healthy and attractive.
The vast majority of products simply do not cater to every demographic. Racism might at least be reasonably considered inappropriate unless you're marketing a product that specifically targets some races and not others, but ageism? It's highly likely that whatever it is you're advertising does have a well-defined audience in terms of age.
This is just another rung on the political correctness ladder. Expecting everyone to include every possible demographic in every conceivable advertising campaign is idiotic.
Making it about "what people want to be" (from GP) misses the point as well. If you're not aiming your advertising at your target demographics, you are failing either yourself or your client. That's not discrimination; it's business. Discrimination is "you're not pretty, you don't get a discount or aren't allowed to use this service."
If you target average 65 year old women, then you show gray-haired above-average-health 55-year women.
If you target average 45 year old men, then you show slim (but not too slim) fit (but not too fit) 38 year old men - that might plausibly be average 45 year old men, but are very much skewed towards the idealized goal.
If you target very overweight people, then you show people that are visibly overweight, but particularly good looking for that weight.
That's what works best, that's how homo sapiens are most receptive to be influenced.
So it makes sense for these household goods brands to target young adults, to become their "go-to" choice for decades to come.
The only difference I see is that the images listed in this article come with 'filters' already applied. I think for most use cases this is actually a negative; I would never consider using an image like that for something serious - it comes off as really cheesy, even more-so than the shutterstock photos. At least with those I am in control of the post-processing.
Secondly, using one photo from each is hardly representative of the whole. Many of the simple stock photos that are found can be rather cheesy.
Flickr's search is not perfect (it is based on "interestingness" over relevance), but after a page or two typically the results are passable.
It provides some nice default attribution HTML. Basically I was just scratching my own itch. YMMV.
These sites get submissions from artists who are granting them a license to distribute and offer these images royalty free. Great.
But what if an artist uploads an image to which they don't actually own the copyright. I presume that these sites are protected under copyright laws because they're not liable for content distributed on their networks but what happens to the person who used the image? I understand that they wouldn't be protected and still be liable.
But you ask a very good question with regards to the spread from there. I suppose, as long as you complied with an cease-and-desist orders, you'd be demonstrating a good-faith ... aaah, I'm just throwing words at a screen now. I'm not a lawyer. The law is often arbitrary and confusing from my perspective.
Caveat emptor seems to always be on order.
You're apparently assuming the sites are all hosted in USA, not an entirely terrible assumption. [Though there is a similar Electronic Commerce Directive in Europe and probably other similar laws in other jurisdictions]
As I understand it DMCA Safe Harbour is for sites where they transmit media without interaction, users upload but the site is there to simply serve the media. If the site were selling the media (direct financial benefit) or offering a commercial license for it then Safe Harbour doesn't seem valid? Applying a license would possibly be considered transformative? Similarly if the site is selecting the images to meet their requirements - using a [partially] manual method then it seems DMCA Safe Harbour wouldn't cover it.
As mentioned by someone else, I don't get the "photos sent to you weekly/monthly" sites. Why? I can't picture (har har) someone needing a photo for some design, but thinking "Welp, nothing good on the web... I'll wait to see what comes along next week." Unless it's just aimed at photography enthusiasts who enjoy seeing beautiful photos, with no intent to use them for something.
I'll also add that if you're looking to add photos to your content, consider being different and using a funny cartoon drawing instead, like Jason Cohen, 42Floors, and others have been doing. Here's a stock cartoon site I created just for that purpose: https://www.gagcartoons.com
To make matters worse, there doesn't even appear to be any way to get the back-catalogue of most of these sites. Death to Stock gives you a collection of photos when you sign up, but it's just 10 sample images.
While this may seem ludicrous (eliminating the appeal of your free stock photos over paid ones) this is common practice after a series of emails looking to elaborate on this point with a few of the services.
I mostly use flickr and check creative commons and all the right radioboxes in the search. But yeah most of the time they suck.
This article seems directly copied from this medium post  I found a while back, except for the addition of paid stock photo sites.
From all of the things I've ever read or written, nobody cared what the pictures were, unless the pictures were explicitly diagrams or illustrations. Otherwise, it was almost white noise.
I say "almost" because, apparently, they still want for a picture, any picture, in the slot. I don't get it, what is the point of having a picture if the reader never shows a discernable reaction to the content of the picture. But you need to have a picture there. It could be a picture of a pie. It could be a picture of your city's skyline. It could even be a cat (actually, it probably should be a cat, you will probably get more hits). But A) it needs to be there, and B) it doesn't matter what it is.
For that reason, I have a strict "no purchase stock photography" rule. I have in the past, and it just wasn't worth the money. I can throw together what I need in so little time that it's not worth the money. And I'm not a graphic designer, this is just how unimportant the content of the image is.
Heh, I'm always interested to see the ways people internalize my username. It's meant to be a personal reminder "there is always someone smarter than me, and I'm not entitled to my job." It's meant to be a foil against my cynicism, thus why I put it in my username, which I see every day. But cynicism is really just ugly criticism, and if I recognize it in time, I can turn it into constructive criticism.
To be clear, I'm not suggesting just tossing a blurry cat photo on to everything (though in the right way it could be done... I digress). But the barrier to entry for creating decent-enough photos has dropped significantly in the last 10 years.
You are right, you have to ask yourself what you want to get out of the photo.
As a photographer myself, I don't think my time is worth anything. The value of my photography is not a function of the time I put into it. I might need more time to take a certain photo of a certain quality than another photographer, or I might need less time. That doesn't change the value of the photo. We're not talking about factory work. All creative work is valued independently from the time and effort spent on it. While we can make rough correlations between "time spent" and "quality", the two are not linked one-to-one, certainly if we're considering a marketplace of creative workers and the output they produce. One person's 15 minutes could eclipse another person's 1 week.
There are differences that the artist cares about and there are differences that the consumer cares about. And it hurts to hear it, because we've spent thousands of dollars on camera gear, but most consumers just don't care about the technical quality of the camera, beyond a certain point.
There are some who do. But I'm not convinced most do.
Most people do not see photography as art. They see it as another form of diary keeping. I get this all the time when I'm out with my camera. "Why are you taking a picture of that bug, who wants to see that?" or "Why don't you want a picture taken of yourself to commemorate the moment?" I see it constantly, most people (except other photographers) are completely perplexed by my photography motivation. "You've got hundreds of gigs of storage space, why wouldn't you take millions of photos?" Because then I'd have to look at millions of photos, and they'd mostly be junk.
One particular moment stands out in my head. I was in the Galapagos Islands, and we were near the end of the trip. Our guide took us on a tour of a research center on the main island. We had just spent two weeks looking at iguanas and turtles and lizards in the wild, and now we were in a glorified zoo to look at iguanas and turtles and lizards. Now, I don't mind getting to look at more animals, but I left my camera on the boat for this trip, and didn't regret it. The rest of the people were almost freaking out, "how could you leave your awesome camera behind? I bet you're kicking yourself right now." Why? We're not seeing anything new, and I can't take an interesting photo of an animal in a cage. (I'm not saying it's impossible, I just know that I can't for the parameters of the situation).
Most people, even people with expensive cameras, don't understand photography as art.
Look at the wedding photography industry. I am willing to bet that the people who pay for expensive photographers (who do spend a lot of time working, I do not doubt that) are either sinfully rich and make a habit out of buying the most expensive things, or are photographers themselves, amateur or professional. I did, because I knew I would care about the quality. Most of my friends did not, and freaked out about what I would have considered even cheap prices. They wanted a log, not an art book.
We can see the quality difference between a blog on Medium with a really nice photo that was taken with care. We can say "yes, this is good". But for every one of those, there are probably 10 teenage girls on Tumblr who is posting grainy iPhone photos of their cats with twee sayings MS Painted on top, with 100,000 followers each.
So back to my point: if what I want to get out of my photo is "drive clicks", it doesn't really that much matter. If what I want to get out of my photo is "sell units", it's actually better to have a lot of photos than it is to have great photos. If what I want to get out of my photo is "respect as a photographer", then of course, I will spend time on it.
But I don't confuse that for "selling units".
Here's an example:
but i tend to use photodune.com for anything a bit more serious, the images vary from $1 to $5, and they have many to choose from. But if they don't have anything good enough then its over to istockphoto.
of course there is also the getty embed thing they announced a while ago (http://www.gettyimages.com/Creative/Frontdoor/embed) which might be handy if you just want small blog content.
My colleague Mark has a bunch of it: https://www.flickr.com/photos/charmermrk/collections/7215760...
However, it is refreshing finally find some sites that actually offer free photos. Most sites that pop up in a Google search have a few free ones, then billions of affiliate links to Shutterstock. Nothing against Shutterstock, but it does get frustrating to search for free images and constantly end up on a page requesting payment.
dang mentioned the voting ring detector recently, I wonder if there might be some of that going on here?