Photos play a huge role in any visual content, from flyers to instructional videos, but actual photography takes time and money. That’s why stock photo sites are so useful to creators: they provide millions of high-quality photos for projects that wouldn’t have nearly enough resources to get their own visuals.

There are tons of stock photo sites on the web, though, all best for different types of projects. Some are meant primarily for businesses or placeholder content, while others are better for creative work. I’ll go over the three best stock photo sites for creative projects, and how creators can use stock photos in their work.

  1. Pixabay
  2. Unsplash
  3. Pexels

1. Pixabay

The Pixabay logo.

Pixabay has all the perks of other top options – professional quality, advanced search options, free license for personal and commercial use – plus some important details that push it ahead. Their “vector graphics” section allows you to download illustrations and designs in the file types actually used in graphic design software: SVG and PNG. You can also search for music and sound effects in the same place, which is convenient if you don’t need the more extensive or focused selections of other royalty-free music libraries.

A screenshot featuring several vector illustrations in Pixabay.
Pixabay features free-to-download SVG and PNG vector images. 

What’s more, Pixabay’s API allows it to be integrated with other top content creation platforms, so top design studios like Canva (which bought Pixabay in 2019) and video studios like Kapwing can be used to edit and create using Pixabay content.

2. Unsplash

The Unsplash logo.

Unsplash separates itself from other popular stock photo sites in quality, above all else. All of the 2 million+ images in Unsplash are high quality, look professionally taken, and will add a high-end look to whatever content you’re creating.

A screenshot of several pictures of cats found in Unsplash.

Unsplash lets you refine your stock photo search by using over 20 themes and searching by image, collection, or creator. They are also connected with image and video editors like Kapwing to allow you to integrate Unsplash content in design and video projects seamlessly. All of Unsplash’s images are free to use for both personal and commercial use, with no attribution required.

3. Pexels

The Pexels logo.

Pexels bridges the gap between stock photo and stock video, providing both types of content at professional quality for any project you need. Their quality and appeal is equal to the high standard of Unsplash, but I’m ranking Pexels here due to their far more limited library size.

A screenshot with several videos of fish found in Pexels.

Similar to the other sites on this list, plugins and integrations separate Pexels from other popular stock photo sites for content creators. Pexels has a public API that any developers can use to integrate the Pexels library into their own product, so programs like Canva and Kapwing can be used to edit Pexels content.

I hope this article helps you know where to find the type of stock images you need for your work and unlock tons of potential as a visual content creator. If you’re interested in more tips and tutorials on creating great visual content in 2021, check out the Kapwing YouTube channel or read through some related articles on stock content:

Where to Find Great Stock Video Online
How to Add License Free Music to Videos
How to Find Public Domain Images Online