As content creators, we have to look for images and video to
add another dimension to our storytelling. These mediums help other people to picture what we are trying to convey, and add depth to the impact our content has. But what if none of the images really speak to the people you’re trying to engage?

That’s how I felt for years scouring Fotolio, iStockPhoto and especially the truly free stock image sites. They all sucked. But then I found out about Getty and Blend images. They were AWWWWESOME, but they only cost me my left kidney. I need my left kidney so I was screwed.

But over the last few years, it appears that some sites have stepped up their diversity and Instagram-style realism and stopped the staged-looking images we’ve all been accustomed to seeing on doctors office pamphlets. (Sidebar: There is this ONE stock photo model that be in eveeeerything! I’m like, don’t they have another model who can be picked for this same girl-standing-in-front-of-Gaussian-blurred-office-staff-background? Ugh!)

The other issue was affordability. While my agency paid for all of the images used for brochures, websites, and blogs, for a private pay  blogger or digital marketer, these images could be pricey. As a result, one magazine client I had reused her stock images over and over, which also painted a very unpretty picture for the readers.

So, what have I been in love with lately for my stock photo needs?

  1. I found out about Snapwire through a tech-centric daily deal site. I tried it and fell in love. It has a model made for those needing custom photos–real people taking real photos according to the style you have specified. In this, uberlegit setting, you can get pictures that you need without trying to pull together you’re own joint using a camera phone and your kid sister. The best part is the marketplace, which has a plethora of diverse talent taking THEEE DOPEST pictures. In fact, some of the ones I use in my branding, I bought from Snap.wire. Try $20 worth of images using this link. Thank me later.)
  2. CreateHERstock. I found out about CreateHERstock in the Bloggers Like Me FB Group. Basically, I love it. The issue with images of black women on other platforms are, they typically come far and few between and they have the same.dang.pose. Like CHS, hero image boldly proclaims, “ girls are more than two thumbs up + a smile.” We look different, don’t just come in Nigerian and American-with-weave and don’t all work in office surrounding by white colleagues pointing at computer screens. CHS has a limited selection only because they are new on the block, but the images are mostly free and others come with the $7.99 subscription. It’s phenomenal. Like, you know, I’m squealing inside.
  3. Dissolve. So, here’s the thing. We also like seeing other types of people, hipsters, bearded lumberjacks, and colorful quirky folk doing in a heap of other true life settings (there JUST may be a clip of someone doing the Whip and NaeNae to Back To Back). If you use video for intro reels, videos created for marketing or to punctuate our story as B-roll, Dissolve is the place to go. I came up on a deal through Creative Market and got 10 videos free. But you can grab clips and photos for better quality projects inthe $50+ range. If you’re used to free for everything, this isn’t the place for you, but if you know the value of not having bootleg situations, then, yeah, try Dissolve.
  4. BigStockPhoto. Real talk, back in the day, I would spend a GANG on BigStock. They have always had pretty good photos. But it had been a while since I searched for images of black women since I’d not been doing the Natural Hair Parade events and blog. But the other day, I was amazed to see images similar to CHS, with realistic girls that looked LIKE ME! You have to understand that if you are creating content for a certain audience, mine being predominantly black women, there needs to be images that look like those women or the message falls flat. We’re socialized that way. So seeing that BigStock had both images AND video of so many beautiful faces and scenes, I was in love. Because of the classic stock photo nature of this industry leader, you can find beautiful nature images and vector images for design too. (Try them out using this link.)
  5. Creative Market. Like, Creative Market has a range of this-could’ve-been-taken-by-me type photos that are high-quality but that have a softer, realistic feel. There’s something about those in studio or world famous photographer photos that don’t appeal to me. So with CM’s marketplace, you can find a lot of cool images to use. You will have to identify which vendors have the photos that your projects consistently need, so you can subscribe and find out when they have new products for you to buy.

These are only MY favorite non-janky photo and video sites. Others include Envato Marketplace, Etsy, and GraphicStock (which I mostly use for vectors and illustrations). With these resources, we can do so with appealing imagery without breaking the bank.

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