Stock photos can bring style and substance to any PowerPoint presentation, and there are millions to choose from online. It can be hard, though, to find stock photos that are actually worth using; so many of the photos available look generic, cheesy or staged.
The key to finding great photos is knowing where to look. These four websites are our go-to sources for well-curated and high-quality images and illustrations.
Unsplash features images from photographers all around the world. They’re completely free to use for both commercial and noncommercial purposes. You don’t even have to credit the photographer, although it’s nice to do so as a professional courtesy. We love Unsplash because its photos are shot and edited in an artistic fashion; the images don’t feel commercialized or posed like many stock photos do. That said, its portfolio has less variety compared to paid subscription sites.
Founded in 1995, GettyImages was the first company to license imagery online. Today, it offers a comprehensive portfolio of creative and editorial photos, microstock photography, video footage and music. Unlike most websites offering free stock photos, GettyImages has a broad range of images and illustrations to choose from — more than 80 million, in fact. However, the site charges for downloading and using its photos.
Like Unsplash, Pexels offers free photos that are submitted by both novice and professional photographers, and you can use them for commercial or noncommercial projects without crediting the artist. But it has an added perk: You can modify and edit the photos. One downside of Pexels is that the file sizes of its photos can be a little small. That shouldn’t pose a problem for designers using the images for PowerPoint presentations, but it could create issues for those making billboard or print pieces.
One of our favorite affordable stock sites is iStock. This Getty-owned company provides both credit-based and subscription-based options for accessing its photo library. Buy individual credits if you only need photos occasionally or select a subscription option if you need images more frequently. For example, you can access all of the photos in the iStock library for $199 a month.
Regardless of the site you shop, keep a few things in mind: Always download high-resolution images when they’re available. Choose photos that show realistic-looking people behaving naturally and avoid images that feel forced or stiff. And be picky — great stock photos can mean the difference between a so-so presentation and a really stellar one.
Happy photo hunting!