How to Get Free Stock Photos (Quick Guide)- Summary

  • Why do we need photos for a pitch?
  • What is a Stock Photo?
  • Where do Stock Photos Come From?
  • How to Find the Best Stock Photos
  • How to Avoid Copyright Infringement
  • How to Get Stock Photos for Free
  • How to Get the Most from Paid Stock Photos
  • Wrap-up

We’ll start off by explaining:

  1. Why we need photos
  2. What stock photos are 
  3. How to find the free stock photos
  4. How to utilize paid stock photos

Stock photos are something every business will need. And although we’re mostly focused on pitching and pitch decks, in general, visual imagery and stock photos are an essential part of your business’ communication. They help make your message more clear and get the responses you are looking for.

For your pitch deck and pitch specifically, we really hope you are using images in your deck. Images are essential for a making a great pitch.

Why Do You Need Photos For Your Pitch Deck?

It’s really important to add images and stock photos into your pitch deck. As humans, we see the world like pictures. So, adding photograph visuals makes things tangible and easier to understand. It also reduces potential barriers like lack of attention, lack of time, and the feeling that this doesn’t apply to me. Visuals make your messaging feel more real and easier to grasp. As you are putting together a pitch deck it’s essential to have images incorporated throughout.

When we are pitching, the pitch deck is either going to be behind us or sent ahead as a visual document to generate interest. The key words there are “Visual Document”. Pictures speak a thousand words and your visual document or pitch deck is going to be telling your story directly or helping you tell it. Rather than expecting your audience to cipher a deck full of text, adding great images throughout your deck makes it much easier for your audience to relate to and grasp.

Stock Image

What is a Stock Photo?

A stock photo allows an artist to sell their picture to someone who needs to use it. It eliminates the need to pay royalties to the artist for every use and rights are granted to the buyer for the use of the image.

Where do Stock Photos Come From?

Stock photos come from a photographer or artist who has taken or created photos or visuals. They put these images on a stock photo sites with the intent  to sell them to many people who want to use them.

They sell you the stock photo and the license to use that photo. Usually it’s a license for a certain kind of usage so make sure you double check those licenses and usage limits.

When you purchase a stock photo, it allows you to use that photo without the risk of copyright issues. You also don’t have to pay royalties to the photographer who took the photo. Otherwise, you would have to pay royalties to them. 

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How to Find the Best Stock Photos

In general, you want to find the best images that captures and convey your message in an immediate way. Using great visuals makes it easier for your audience to understand your message. You can use stock photos and images in different ways throughout the pitch deck.

You can take your own pictures, or find millions of stock pictures online. Online stock photo sites are where you can find thousands of paid stock photos, as well as (to a lesser extent) free stock photo pictures. 

How to Avoid Copyright Infringement

Not all pictures are free for you to use. If you go to Google and you start looking for pictures, you can’t use those. It’s not good. Especially when you are putting together a presentation, this is a document that you are using for your business, for the profit of your business and for your own profit.

You cannot use a photo that you just found, that somebody else took. You can’t even use it with citing them on the photo because they may or may not have license rules on whether or not they are allowed to get royalties on the use of that image. Please pay really close attention to that.

How to Get Free Stock Photos

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Unsplash 

FYI – We have no monetary incentive or affiliation with Unsplash, although we are users of their site from time to time. We just think it’s great.

If you don’t want to spend money on photos, how do you get free ones? One of my favorite stock photo sites to get free stock photos is Unsplash.com. Unsplash is entire free and they have a vast selection of, really, really interesting photos!

In general, these photos tend to be a little bit more on the hipster side of things. 

For more solid, clean-cut, business imagery,  you’ll have less options on Unsplash although you may find some. If you’re looking for great pictures of coffee shops, mountains [scenery] or travelers in a bustling city like at a market, Unsplash will be a great resource. We’ve seen tons of really good images around these topics. That list is by no means comprehensive and there are a ton of options. It’s really easy to go on there and search for what you’re looking for.

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Pexels

Another really good free site is Pexels. Pexels has a great selection of paid and free images. Pexels is a bit different, as their business model is more like a “premium” image model. They have free and paid images often interwoven together, so that you will have to sift through the free and paid options at the same time. If you fall in love with a picture, it’s possible it will end up a paid photo instead of a free one. Keep that in mind.

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Google

(…Read on for how to avoid Google Pitfalls with Images)

If you wanted to find free photos and you can’t find what you are looking for on Unsplash, you can look on Google. But you have to make sure you have your settings right!

 You can find some free options in the search in Google. They are pretty limited I will say and it’s not the best option. You really should go to a stock photo site like Unsplash to get free photos.

Make Sure You Only Use Licensed Content

On Google when you do a normal Google search, not all of those photos are usable. In fact, most of them probably aren’t. They are all licensed photos. They might be on stock photo sites, they might be on people’s sites and you’re able to see them so the person who has posted them on their site has the license, not you.

Although a lot of people and businesses use these images without a license, Don’t Do It! It’s immoral,  illegal, and you could possibly be exposing your business to financial liability in using them. See this case in point where the US Postal Service used an unlicensed version of the Statue of Liberty on their stamps and ended up owing ~$3.5M in royalties. While nothing like that is likely to happen to you, we think it illustrates our point about why you don’t want to use images you don’t have a license for.

Use “Usage Rights” Settings in Google Searches

What you do on Google instead of searching by default is to use the Usage Rights Filter. In your Google Image search you’ll see a a little button for Tools. 

1. Open tools and select “Usage Rights”

2. Mark “Usage Rights to Available for Re-use”

After following the above steps you can find images that are listed as legal to use. BUT – still make sure to double checking the licenses where you can, because you just never know, and you want to be careful.

How to Get the Most from Paid Stock Photos

Now that we’ve covered getting free images, we can turn our attention to paid stock photos. There are a lot of paid stock photos out there and they are not too expensive. If you are not finding what you need from free sites, try looking for stock photos that you can purchase. There are some great sites for that and they usually charge by the photo, through a subscription, or a combination of both.

One-off Photo Purchases

Usually paid stock photos don’t require as much searching to find what you’re looking for. In general, if you’re going to buy them one-off, they tend to be around $10, like Shutterstock.com (no affiliation).

You may also find some really expensive ones, like on Getty images (no affiliation). They can be somewhat better, but not always. Even Adobe Stock has premium photos that are around $500 or more. Photos related to trending topics or something in the news can be even more expensive.

Subscription based Photo Purchases

If you have a lot of photo needs, you might also consider paying for a subscription. With a subscription to something like Adobe Stock photo (no affiliation), which has a vast content library, you have the opportunity to us the site as a one-stop shop for photos and images on going.

Wrap-up

Thanks for checking out our quick guide on how to get free photos for your pitch deck. You definitely want to use photography and custom images in your pitch decks, one pagers, and pitch presentations. There are many places you can go to get those. Again, one of our favorite free sites is Unsplash.com and our favorite paid site is AdobeStock.com

(Again,  besides being their customers, we have no affiliation to any option we’ve presented in this guide)

Please Share your Experiences with Stock Photos

If you have other places that you’ve used photos from for free stock photos, we would love for you to add some links in the comments for people to be able to find. If you have other thoughts on stock photos or why to use pay vs. free photos, we would love to hear your comments below.

Submit your Requests for Additional Topics

If you have ideas you would like us to cover, definitely let us know. We have a link down below to submit your suggestions. We love to hear all of your ideas and questions. We love to see them, so please keep them coming! 

Happy Pitching!

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