Where to Find the Best Stock Photos for Instagram

By in Instagram Strategy Feb 16, 2018

So you are considering stock photos for Instagram? That’s a good choice because there’s plenty of high-quality content available on the web for you to re-use. However, finding the best stock photo sites can be a little tricky at times. That’s why in this article I will cover where to find stock photos for Instagram.

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Before we begin, let’s talk about why stock photos can be a good option for your brand account.

Why you should use stock photos

Stock photos are brilliant for Instagram. Depending on where you get them from, they can be very high-quality and eye-catching. If  your company can’t produce great quality photos and videos to utilize for the platform, then stock photos may be your best (or only) option to begin with.

They are fairly easy to obtain, and due to the generous community of photographers and content creators, there’s a huge amount of content available for you to choose from. There’s bound to be some sort of content that would be suitable for your industry and content strategy.

Some businesses post very frequently on Instagram, and by that I mean several times a day, every-day. That’s a lot of content needed, and would require a lot of time too. Thanks to stock photos, they help us marketers and content creators edit and schedule more content efficiently.

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Stock photos can usually be purchased on a variety of sites, but what if I told you there were several websites that offer free high-quality stock photos too. Now that would be very handy, right? Well, I’m happy to say there is a mixture of sites both premium and free. Let’s take a look at them.

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The Best Stock Photo Sites for High-Quality Premium Images

There are tons of websites that offer high-quality premium stock photos, and the prices can vary. Here are the best stock photo sites for high-quality premium images at great prices:

Top Premium Stock Image Site – #1 Stocksy

best stock photo sites

Stocksy is one of the best stock photo sites, and you can purchase high-quality images from $15. Using the search function will help you narrow down and find the right content quickly. Stocksy is known for only accepting quality content. They mention on their contributors’ page: “We commonly look for artists with an eye for storytelling or who have complete bodies of work.” They review all photos and ensure they are worthy of being added to the site.

Top Premium Stock Image Site – #2 500px Marketplace

best stock photo sites

500px is commonly recognised as the most passionate photography community, with thousands of users sharing their content. The marketplace offers premium high-quality stock photos from the 500px community. There are over 80 million photos and 8 million top photographers. That’s an enormous number, so there’s plenty of content you will discover that’s available to purchase and use for your Instagram.

Top Premium Stock Image Site – #3 SC Stockshop

best stock photo sites

The SC Stockshop is a great choice for premium stock images. The site offers a wide range of collections, with images perfect for social media usage and of course your website too. However, with these beautiful shots comes a hefty price tag.

The site is great and offers stunning imagery with easy to use search functions such as searching by colour or keyword.

Top Premium Stock Image Site #4 iStock

best stock photo sites

If you’re looking for more business-focused imagery, iStock offers a lot of that. I tend to use this and mix it up with some creativity in Photoshop. The prices vary, and they have lots to offer. Whilst the search function could do with some improvements, it definitely is a go-to for some top-quality commercial-focused imagery.

Top Premium Stock Image Site #5 Death to Stock

best stock photo sites

Death to Stock is another stock image site but with a little twist. They offer unique images for non-stock creatives.

“Our mission is to resource the creatives with tools they can use for their projects, teach them what we know, and consistently fuel them.”

They offer a variety of interesting stock photos available to purchase for a monthly fee of $15. This gives you access to unlimited downloads. You can also sign-up to their email list and receive free sets of images every month. So it’s definitely worth looking into either way.

“Death to Stock is not concerned with quantity. Our focus is a member-based experience that shows up to push you into the future with fresh media, education, and direction.”

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The Best Stock Photo Sites for Royalty-Free Images

Whilst there’s some amazing premium stock photo sites, when you require images quite often, those can easily rack up a pricey bill. Luckily, there are a few free royalty-free stock sites with plenty of images for you to choose from. Let’s take a look at the best stock photo sites for free images:

Top Free Stock Image Site – #1 Pexels

best stock photo sites

Pexels is perfect for stock photos, even better they also have a video library full of content free to use too. All imagery on Pexels is licensed under Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. One of the best things about this site is they tag the content effectively so they are all searchable and can be discovered on the homepage too.

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Top Free Stock Image Site – #2 Gratisography

best stock photo sites

Gratisography is one of the best stock photo sites I’ve come across for unique interesting stock images. They have some fairly creative images that are very eye-catching. Give it a look and you’ll see what I mean. Gratisography adds new images on a weekly basis and are all free of copyright restrictions.

The project was created by Ryan McGuire, a whimsically creative visual artist, based in Grinnell, IA.

Top Free Stock Image Site – #3 Unsplash

best stock photo sites

Unsplash is my favourite source for high-quality stock photos. It’s one of the top go-to sites for stock photos, and has a wide collection of different images for various industries. Best of all, they are all completely free. This is the first site I’ll go to whenever I need quality stock photos. They also feature new and trending content on their homepage allowing you to discover great imagery within seconds.

Top Free Stock Image Site – #4 StockSnap.io

best stock photo sites

StockSnap.io is a great resource with a large selection of high-resolution beautiful photos available to use for your Instagram. They also have a very handy search function to find specific content with ease. One of the best things about this site is they have enabled tracking, allow you to find the most downloaded and viewed content, giving you an idea of what other people like the most.

Top Free Stock Image Site – #5 Burst by Shopify

best stock photo sites

Burst is another free stock photo site created by the Shopify team offering high resolution photos for commercial use. The categories of photos range from coffee, fitness, fashion, yoga, urban life, business and much more. They are all free to use. What Burst does very well is showcase the top featured photos on the homepage and also send you the top new free stock photos every week via email. This is very useful, and I would recommend consider signing up to get them.

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Getting creative with stock photos

Now that you are aware of the various stock photo sites both premium and free, you might consider changing them up and being a little creative with them. For an Instagram account I manage, I tend to use Photoshop and add a border with some other little amendments to make them more attractive and keep them in the same style as the other content.

For some stock photos, I’ll also add some text over the top, which is usually a quote. Something like the below, for example.

best stock photo sites

Being creative with your stock photos can be easy and very quick when using tools like Canva, Adobe Spark, Photoshop and many others on the market. One of the benefits of using Schedugram is the Canva integration and built-in photo editing feature, where you can crop, resize, add stickers, and of course, add filters to your images before scheduling them to Instagram. This makes the process much quicker and allows you to get your weekends back!

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BONUS! Stock Videos for your Instagram

There’s plenty of stock image sites about, but when it comes to videos, you might have to dig a little more and spend some time researching quality video stock content. Since video is becoming one of the most engaging types of content, I’ve decided to include a few stock video sites below that offer both premium and free high-quality videos.

Pexels Videos

best stock photo sites

Pexels does not only offer stock photos, but they also offer a large collection of stock videos all for free. This is the best stock site I’ve come across for free video content.


best stock photo sites

Another stock video site that has completely free HD stock footage and motion graphics for any project is Videvo. Utilising their search function and categories, you’ll find the right video content within a few clicks.

VideoBlocks by StoryBlocks

best stock photo sites

VideoBlocks has over 115,000+ HD clips, After Effects templates, and motion backgrounds, giving you plenty of video content for your Instagram. Prices start from $79 a month for unlimited downloads and other features and can go up to $198 for 12 months access of unlimited downloads. The good thing about VideoBlocks is they offer a free 7-day trial so you can get a taste of what it’s like before spending the big bucks.

Over to You!

As you can see, there’s a range of different royalty free stock photo sites available for you to download high-resolution photos and videos for your Instagram account. The number of stock photo sites is constantly growing and there’s plenty to discover on the world wide web. Giving Google a search for photo stock sites will bring up results of many top quality sites offering a numerous amount of photos for you to choose from.

Whether you decide to purchase premium or use free stock images, they are a great addition to your Instagram account and can help increase engagement and account growth, especially if you choose the most featured and top rated photos.

By choosing the best content and being creative with it, you are setting yourself up for Instagram success. If you follow these strategies regularly you are bound to generate 700 – 1000 followers every week. You will also notice more engagement and conversations happening, which could ultimately lead to new sales.

If you are stuck for ideas on creating a stunning feed using stock photos, then check out the below images for some inspiration and visit this article to make your profile shine. Note – some of the below profiles are not necessarily using stock photos but they give you an idea of what you could do for a stunning Instagram profile feed using stock photos with a few edits.

best stock photo sites

best stock photo sites

Remember: whilst using stock photos for your Instagram is a great strategy, do not forget to take your own pictures to add some of your own creativity and uniqueness to your account. Not everyone wants to be seeing stock images all the time, and they’d like to see how creative you can get. You can also generate a lot of engagement by taking the perfect picture on Instagram. Behind the scenes content usually does quite well too.

I would love to know your tips and top sources for where to find stock photos for Instagram and your thoughts on using them.

If you have any questions feel free to tweet me or drop a comment below. I’d love to know how you get on!

Gareth O’Sullivan is a versatile digital marketer with experience on various social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and many more. Gareth also writes various blog posts like this one. You can follow and stay connected with Gareth on his social media profiles.