If a picture is worth a thousand words, the images you use in your marketing or creative pursuits can speak volumes about your business, or even you personally. Not everyone has a professional photographer or artist at their disposal to create custom images, so many turn to stock photography and video to fill the gap.
Of course, you want to use only the highest quality stock photography, but the fees charged by some of the top sites are out of the budget range for many small businesses and solo professional creatives. While there’s no arguing that great visual content deserves compensation, the fees just might nor be something you can swing at the moment, yet you still need high quality visuals for your project. Free stock photography becomes an option you pursue with gusto.
Your search for free stock photography would provide multiple options, with Pexels being among the top results. If you were to venture to Pexels, what you find would be one of the most respected platforms for free stock photography, with a curated collection that has few rivals in the industry.
A Brief Overview of Pexel’s Strong Points
- Pexels offers a curated collection of more than 500k free stock images
- Each month, artists upload more than 50k new images to the Pexels platform
- Pexels employs a powerful search algorithm that makes it possible to filter and sift through hundreds of thousands of images easily and quickly
- Search function includes unique options, such as by color
- Pexels highlights top images and showcases unique categories
- Pexel’s API allows for seamless integration of their images and videos into websites and other visual products
- Pexel’s image sources include free stock image sites like Pixabay, Gratisography, and Little Visuals
- All images on Pexels are listed under a creative commons zero license, meaning they are free to use for personal or commercial purposes, with no attribution required
- Images on Pexels are high quality, and extend beyond the cold, impersonal images that are found on other free stock photo sites
- If you like a particular contributor’s work, you can contact them directly through the platform
- Pexels offers a “Heroes” program for their top content contributors
Pexels –A Large Curated Collection Meets Artistic Talent
Pexels is a stock image site that provides hundreds of thousands of quality, free stock images and videos to their users all around the world. Compared to some other free stock image platforms, like Pixabay, Pexels is fairly new on the scene. Founded in 2014 by Bruno and Ingo Joseph, Pexels was joined by Daniel Frese in 2015, and has been working toward being a leading resource for high quality, free to use, stock images ever since.
Pexels works off a mission of empowering creators, including designers, marketers, artists, programmers, and other professional creatives by providing them with a resource that’s packed with images, designs, and videos that are timely, artistic, and primed for use.
All images on Pexels are supplied under the Pexels License, which is a creative commons zero license that enables Pexels users to access and use every image on the site, free of charge and without attribution. For creatives with limited budgets, Pexels provides exceptional imagery without steep subscription or per image use fees.
Pexels is also a great platform for photographers and digital artists who are looking to build a portfolio and reputation. Images uploaded to Pexels by artists are screened, and the best ones are chosen to be accessible to Pexels users on the site. Contributors with a stellar reputation can join their Heroes program, which is designed to help further the careers of top Pexels contributors.
How Does Pexels Measure Up to the Competition?
The competition among free stock image sites is a little different from what you’ll find with paid platforms. In many cases, free stock photo sites share a pool of images and pull from each other. This is the case with Pexels, that pulls images from Pixabay and other sites, while building up a curated collection from their own contributors at the same time.
One of Pexels main “competitors”, Pixabay, was recently acquired by the popular web and graphic design tool website, Canva. Pexels was also acquired by Canva, which from a creative business standpoint, has only solidified their standing as one of the leading providers of high quality, stock photography.
While they share the same mother company, Pexels and Pixabay offer collections that appeal to a somewhat different audience. You will find some shared images on their sites, but Pexels collection is a tad smaller and more artistically themed, with many images containing an authentic feel that isn’t as easy to come by on giants like Pixabay.
Pexels collection leans towards the larger end of a medium sized library by today’s standards. With other free and paid sites boasting millions of images, the Pexels collection is smaller and more intimate. That said, their selection far exceeds what you’ll find on smaller free stock image sites like Gratisography.
Pexels is also leaps and bounds ahead of other free stock images sites in regard to how they reward their contributors. While anyone is eligible to create an account and upload images to the Pexels platform, they reward contributors with a history of sharing exceptional quality work, as well as participating in the Pexels platform in other ways – such as engaging with and contributing to an invite only forum for top contributing artists – by offering them membership to their exclusive Heroes program.
What Types of Images Does Pexels Offer?
When browsing the Pexels site, you’ll find that it’s great, authentic stock photography that is the foundation of this free stock platform. Pexels is focused in on stock photography, and it really is what they do best.
One of the ways the Pexels really stands out in the world of free stock photo sites is the many ways they make it easy for their users to search and discover new images. They offer the regular search bar feature that you’ll find on practically every other site, but they also offer options to explore images based on themes, such as fashion, travel, technology, abstract art, and color, just to name a few.
Illustrations and Vectors
Illustrations and vectors are part of the Pexels library, although you have to do a little digging to find them. Other sites, like Pixabay, make it easier to discover these types of stock images with straightforward navigation. With Pexels, you’re going to find illustrations and vectors by entering those specific keywords into the search bar function.
Video for Businesses
Pexels shares an expansive catalog of free stock videos that have been uploaded by content creators and pulled from other free stock sites. Like all the images on the Pexels site, the videos are all free to use, with no attribution acquired. A simple drop-down menu function will point you in the direction of their video collection. Once you click on one that captures your eye, Pexels enhances the user experience by supplying a healthy handful of options for similar video content for you peruse.
Who Uses Pexels?
The Pexels site is a large collection that attracts a wide variety of creatives seeking authentic, professional quality stock photography and videos. With this in mind, creatives in certain industries will find the Pexels platform especially inviting. Pexels is well suited for professional creatives such as:
- Graphic Designers
- Digital Marketers
- Web Designers
- Promotions Specialists
- Blog writers/content creators
What Is the Pexels License?
Pexels has simplified their platform so that all images and videos fall under the usage guidelines of the Pexels License. The Pexels License is a creative commons zero license, which allows every image or video on their site to be used for personal and/or commercial purposes with no fee, royalties, or attribution required. That said, while creator attribution is not required, Pexels does make a point on their licensing page to say that attribution is always appreciated by their creators. All images from Pexels may also be modified to suit the user’s creative needs.
As with most stock image sites, there are also exclusions to how the images can be used. Under the Pexels License, images and videos cannot be used in the following ways:
Sold as is. Images must me altered in some way before they can be sold. For example, you cannot simply pull an image from Pexels, create an unadulterated poster from the image and sell it.
It is forbidden to place identifiable people from Pexel’s images in an unflattering or offensive light. It cannot be implied that the people in Pexel’s images endorse a certain product or brand. Images cannot be distributed or sold on other stock photo sites.
Does Pexels Offer a Subscription Option for Premium Stock Images and Videos?
The mission of Pexels is to make high quality, totally free stock images and videos available to the public in the simplest way possible. Because of this, every image and video that you’ll find on Pexels is completely free to use without a paid subscription or membership. The only exception to this are the sponsored images you may see when browsing images. These stock photographs aren’t actually part of the Pexels platform, but are sponsored images from paid sites, like Shutterstock.
You can sign up for a totally free account with Pexels, which allows you to keep track of your downloads, favorites, and keep in touch with your favorite contributors. If you choose to upload on Pexels, you’ll also need to sign up for a free account.
Is Pexels User Friendly?
In many ways, Pexels is one of the more user-friendly free stock image sites. The provide the standard search bar feature, but they also offer numerous featured subcategories to inspire some exploration. For instance, if you navigate over the explore option at the top of the screen and select “Discover Photos”, you’ll be presented with current, trending categories of stock images, like:
- Best of Wallpapers
- Family Life
- Jelly Fish
- Human Connections
- And, so many more…
Downloading images or saving them to a collection is also easy. When you hover over an image, you have the opportunity to mark it as a favorite, add it to a collection, or click on the creator/contributor to access their other works. If you’re ready to download the image, simply click on the image and then click on download. There is also an arrow to the right of the download button which lets you choose the size you need. It really is that easy.
Another nice feature that Pexels includes when you choose to download an image is a screen that pops up giving you the opportunity to personally thank the contributor of the image. You can thank the artist on Twitter or Instagram, share the image on social media, or donate a financial contribution directly to the creator.
Downloading a free stock video is just as easy. The only difference is when you hover over the explore option at the top of the screen, you’ll choose free videos rather than one of the image categories.
How Can You Contribute to the Pexels Library
Uploading images to Pexels and becoming a contributor to their site couldn’t be easier – as long as you’re uploading quality images that meets the demands and expectations of their user base.
When you visit the Pexels site, you’ll find a green upload button in the upper right-hand corner. Clicking on it will bring you to the page where you can upload images and then publish them. Pexels reserves the right to review all images. After the review process, if your image meets the Pexels standards and criteria, your uploaded content will appear in their library of images and videos.
If you’re an artist looking to make money from uploading your content, Pexels isn’t the platform that will generate steady income. That said, Pexels does offer an incredible opportunity for you to showcase your work, gain exposure in the industry, and possibly generate some income through Pexels users who choose to donate to you through the platform.
Top contributors may also be invited to participate in the Pexels Heroes Program. As a Hero, your uploaded content receives priority placement, meaning you get more views and more exposure. You’ll also be connected to an expansive network of creative professionals, earn a special profile badge, and have access to additional benefits provided by Pexels.
Pexels – A Free Stock Photo Site with All the Perks of Premium
At first glance, you would never know that Pexels was a free stock photo site. Everything from the quality of their images to the premium feel of their website, and user-friendly interface positions screams premium. Still, Pexels entire platform is one that only offers completely free stock videos and images. Pexels is also a shining start in how they help highlight the works of their contributors – an element that’s often missing on free sites.
The bottom line? If you’re in need of high quality, professional looking stock photography with an authentic feel, Pexels is a free stock site that will exceed your expectations every time.