Unsplash Review

Unsplash is an industry leader in the stock photo community.  Over 1 billion images have been globally downloaded, which makes it one of the most popular online stock photo websites for both creatives and businesses alike.

Unsplash prides itself on being an industry-leading visual community whose status was earned by being one of the very first stock photo sites to deliver artistic photography absolutely free to its users. The developers of this site identified a gap in the industry and ventured into creating a site that connected creators to their audience; it was from this idea that Unsplash was born.

Unsplash was initially founded in 2013 as a small Tumblr blog and amazingly hit 10 million downloads within its first year. With a humble 776 photos, the content was eventually moved off Tumblr onto its own fully functioning site to help support the platform’s popularity and growth.

Since then, conveniences like searchable tags based on popular search results have been incorporated, and the company has partnered with influential sites like Buzzfeed.

One of the things that makes Unsplash truly unique is its image database which has, for the most part, been generously donated by a community of over 150,000 incredibly talented photographers. 

Unsplash – A Quick Snapshot

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  • Over 1 million photos are available across countless categories including floral, professional, industrial, food, animals, and landscapes
  • The platform is complete with a searchable catalog and trending images list
  • Completely free to use
  • Integrates with popular online tools like Trello, Squarespace, Dropbox, Wix, and Adobe
  • One-stop online platform for HD wallpapers for both desktop and mobile
  • Extensive help center with easy to read step-by-step instructions
  • License allows end-users to download and modify the images for both commercial and non-commercial purposes

Closing the Gap Between Creatives and Their Audience

Have you ever browsed through a stock photo website and felt that you had seen the images a thousand times before? Unsplash is the website creatives turn to when searching for stock photos that don’t look like your typical stock photo options. You will find images with emotion, different perspectives, creative angles, and specific photographic editing that captures a mood.

Unsplash gives you the opportunity to elevate your next visual project with professional images direct from the photographer. The company’s catalog consists of photos from all walks of life, including aerial photography, portraits, and even monochrome.

The Positives and Negatives of Using Unsplash

Unsplash is one of the fastest-growing stock photo sites on the market, but it doesn’t come without its drawbacks. In the vast world of stock photo imagery, Unsplash lacks illustrations, vector files, and stock video.  Their focus is entirely on photos and wallpapers. In this sense, it doesn’t stack up against a site like Pixabay, which offers a large selection of free vectors and illustrations.

Unsplash doesn’t have a premium option to date, so if you’re looking to sell your photos, this isn’t the platform for you.  Contributors have been known to be hired off the platform, however, so Unsplash is looking into simplifying the recruitment process in the future. And with over 28 million visits in the last 6 months, you can bet your content will be seen – and so will your name.  If you’re looking to earn money right away, a site such as Pixabay is the better option for you.

What’s more, Unsplash runs a community off-site using Slack, so that users can connect, network, and grow their online community.  And variety isn’t a problem either. With over 1 million photos in its inventory, Unsplash may quickly become your go-to for stock images.

What Type of images Will You Find On Unsplash?

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Over 1 billion downloads proves that Unsplash has a massive inventory worth exploring. What's truly impressive is the type of photography on Unsplash, which is what sets it apart from the competition. Moody, creative, and unique are just some of the styles you might come across.

Most files are downloadable as .jpg's, but you'll also find .png's  if you’re in need of larger files that don't compromise on quality.

The collections page is full of carefully curated niche photo collections. If you’re not entirely sure what you need, browse the explore page, which is an endless page of featured photos on Unsplash.

The wallpapers section of the website is categorized into everything from animals to nature. Simply type your search term into the search bar, or alternatively pick one of the 22 categories, each with their own subcategories. Images are available for both desktops and laptops, and the apps category offers wallpapers in different dimensions for platforms like Facebook, Reddit, or WhatsApp.

Who Are Unsplash Images Best Suited to?

Many photographers publish their work on Unsplash because they know the site’s end-users appreciate their artistic, creative spins on even the most basic subject matter.  Plus, there are a number of unique niche categories, like religion, decals, graffiti, pastels, negative space, and minimalism. The site is also perfect if you're tired of using the same canned, same-old images that you see splashed all over the Internet. 

It's important to note that Unsplash isn't for everyone, however.  Health care professionals, for example, will find more suitable content on traditional stock photo sites since healthcare requires more refined, professional-looking images rather than Unsplash’s more artistic options. 

Unsplash is popular with:

  • Start-up's and entrepreneurs
  • Bloggers
  • Social media managers and marketers
  • E-book authors
  • Website developers
  • Graphic designers

Understanding The Unsplash License

The Unsplash license is straightforward and easy to understand, and allows end-users to download, copy, modify and use all photos for free for both commercial and non-commercial use.

What's more, crediting photographers isn’t necessary, although it is encouraged. If you feel inclined to credit the photographer or site itself, you can do so by simply creating a hyperlink with their name that takes readers directly to their profile or Unsplash.

Similar to other stock photo sites, however, Unsplash is subject to trademark, copyright, and privacy infringement laws. What this means is that when using these types of photos, you cannot in any way, shape, or form insinuate or associate your company or message with the brand or trademark itself.

In addition, photos featuring recognizable faces cannot be used in such a way that would cause hardship to the individual. And if the photo features a celebrity, it is subject to additional laws that prohibit anyone to profit off of it. You can use either of these examples for personal use without worry.   

The one firm no with Unsplash photos is downloading any and/or all images and creating a competitor site.

How to Make the Best Use of Your Time on Unsplash

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While Unsplash is straightforward and easy to use, here are a few can't-miss tips that'll make finding the perfect image even quicker:

  • Visit the Unsplash homepage
  • Type in the relevant search term into the search bar
  • Alternatively, select a category from the trending list or category bar
  • Begin browsing photos and click on an image you like
  • Scroll down to see similar images and collections of related images

Unsplash Collections – Have Other Users Do The Searching For You

Unsplash Collections makes finding the perfect images quick and easy. Simply type in your preferred search term in the search bar, select an image you like and scroll to the bottom of that page. Once you do, you'll be presented with a number of collections featuring this image, along with similar photos.

These collections are curated by other users who share the same creative preferences as you. Say, for example, you search for computers. You might find similar collections like technology and desktops & laptops, which include a selection of photos similar to the ones you are looking for.

If you’d like to start your own collection, simply click the +collect button on any image and select a name relevant to the category to help others discover your own personal favorites.

Downloading Photos

To download a jpg file, simply select the image and click the Download Free button in the top right-hand corner of the page. You can also choose the quick download option by clicking the downward-facing arrow on the thumbnail of the image. This is a time-saving move if you're on a tight deadline since you don't even have to open the image to download it. 

A pop up prompt will appear after you download each image, and kindly remind you that while it isn’t essential, crediting the photography is encouraged.  The pop up will include the photographer’s details, as well as a clickable embedded badge.   

Contributing Images to The Unsplash Community

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Unsplash is a self-proclaimed, inclusive community that encourages everyone from brands and individuals to hobbyist and professional photographers to share their photos online. They call this “fuelling creativity around the world.”

To begin sharing your images, you must first create a profile. You can do this by clicking the Submit a Photo or Join Free button on the site’s header bar at the top of the page on both desktop and mobile. You can also join and upload photos via the iOS app.

Before your images can be approved, there are strict submission guidelines your photos must adhere to, including a set limit of 10 photo uploads per week.

Photo Standards

  • Images must be a minimum of 5 megapixels
  • Standard image size is 2500 by 2000 pixels
  • Photos should be clear with minimal noise, lense marks, and excessive angles
  • Unsplash does not accept composite images comprised of multiple photos
  • Photos must not contain nudity, nor be heavily edited
  • No violent imagery will be accepted
  • Photos must not contain text, borders, or watermarks

Once uploaded and approved, you can edit your photo to include searchable tags, location, and description, as well as edit your EXIF information.

While giving away your photos for free may seem unpopular by many, uploading your work to Unsplash has its benefits, with the main one being that it will boost your visibility. To put this into perspective, a photo featured on Unsplash is now seen more than the front page of The New York Times. This type of visibility increases your chances of being hired as a freelance photographer, which many publishers say is a common occurrence.

Our Final Words

Unsplash is a free-to-use stock photo website powered by a community so diverse you are bound to find something truly unique for your next project. The site is best suited for people who are looking for creative and artistic photos that don’t look like typical stock images. In particular, fashion, travel, and food service industries are all well represented on the site.  It's unfortunately not the best option for more traditional fields like healthcare and banking, however.