Finding & Using Stock Images

pink flowers text finding & using stock images

You’re scrolling through your phone because you’re looking for a specific photograph only to realise that you probably have deleted it.

So, you turn to Google and continue the scroll, but nothing jumps out at you.

Then, just as you’re about to give up, you see something, and you click on it to download, only to see a watermark and now you must pay money to get the photo.

Seriously! Can nothing go your way today?

Building up your own store of stock images, especially if you’re doing your own designs, is imperative.

While you have the colours & the fonts thing down pat, knowing where to find stock images and how to use them will make your Canva designs stand out even more! You know this, but you’re kinda stuck.

Any business owner will tell you that they are always looking for the perfect background photos for their blogs or their designs for social media.

Stock images are a great resource, especially if you’re not gifted in photography yourself or when what you’re looking for is not readily available.

Up at the top, I told you about scrolling through Google looking for a photo, something that is going to be va-va-voom with your design … read this here very carefully, please …

PLEASE do not just download anything you find on Google. Chances are huge that what you’re downloading has copyright attached to it.

Just because it is in the public domain does not make it fair game for consumption & use as you see fit.

But it’s on a public forum, I hear you say.

Yes, that may very well be true, but the owner of the photo may have copyright attached to that photo.

But they’ll never find out … YES! “they” will.

Don’t kid yourself.

Don’t do it.

Unless you have oodles of money and time to spend in expensive & time-consuming litigation.

Where do bloggers go for stock images?

Finding good quality free stock photos seem to be a challenge for a lot of business owners, like yourself, and bloggers.

Because I don’t just blog (not that I do this that often), I also design for money, it’s important for me to use photographs/imagery that is not going to land either my paying clients or me in hot water.

These are the sites that I most often go to:


With over 780k free photos, you’ll understand why this one is first on my list.

Did you know that you can access Pixabay directly from within Canva? Their photographs may be duplicated in Canva, but it’s not all of them. I have a video over on YouTube, which you can access here, showing you how to get to Pixabay as well as Pexels (the next resource).

Here’s their licence page for you to read.


These are picked from free photograph resources, so there may very well be an overlap between them and other free sites, especially as I mentioned in the previous resource.

Here’s their licence page for you to read.

New Old Stock

A lot of gorgeous black and white photos, which MAY be free of any copyright restrictions.

I say MAY be free, so please make sure that you check first.

Here’s their licence page for you to read.


The photographs here feature people of colour.

To use any of their photographs you are required to link back to the photographer. The site gives clear directions on how to do that.

Here’s their licence page for you to read.

Jay Mantri

Jay Mantri is a designer with a substantial library of stunning images.

It’s worth having a scroll through there even if it is just to appreciate the photographic skill.

Here’s their licence page for you to read.


If you want quirky and off the wall, this is it!

Here’s their licence page for you to read.


A unique collection of photos with no attribution required.

Here’s their licence page for you to read.


Unique photographs with a paid offering as well.

Here’s their licence page for you to read.

And then there are the following I found when doing this research which I’ve not had any dealings or interactions with:

  • The Jopwell Collections
  • Fancy Crave
  • Nappy
  • LibreShot
  • Freerange
  • Startup Stock Photos
  • Kaboompics
  • CreateHER Stock
  • Stokpic
  • Hubspot
  • Death to Stock
  • Negative Space

My favourite sites are Pixabay & Pexels, simply because these are part of the Canva resources offered as I have mentioned previously.

Some of the paid-for sites will send you a link on a monthly basis with a couple of images that you can download and use. Their individual libraries are usually quite substantial. Some even offer a membership to access all the imagery.

These ones are the ones that have very strict guidelines around how you can use their images. For instance, you can’t use their images and sell them as a template to a third party. You can only use it for your own social media advertising. If you also use it over on Instagram, you have to use their personal hashtag as a link-back.

Oh … and don’t think you can crop & manipulate the image.

You’re not allowed to do that either.

So, the long and the short really is that you should always make sure that the image you are going to be using does not come with several strings of not-to’s attached to it.

Some free image sites will also have you use the photograph only once, or at most a couple of times.

Check the usage rights though, I have linked them for your convenience with those I use regularly. Rather be safe than sorry!

Standing Out

Creative design really allows you and your brand to stand out.

By not trying to stand out, you are doing both yourself & your brand a massive disservice. This is why stock images are both a good thing and a bad thing.


Yes, you see, the lesser-used stock images are the ones that will make you stand out. And the more often used stock images will make your image disappear.

How do you know whether an image has been used before?

Simple – you use the website Tin Eye. It will tell you, in a couple of seconds, how often & where the image has been used before. Here’s a YouTube Canva Tutorial I created some time ago, showing you how to use this tool.

I have a couple of photographers in my life who would allow me to use their images as stock images.

Negotiating for exclusivity may set you EVEN FURTHER apart from the ever-present competition.

This can be SUPER expensive though, but then … is it worth it for your brand & your audience?

Using online web-based applications such as Canva may very well have you stand out with 100% on-brand overlays, text banners, and hand-drawn elements.


I hope you will find these resources useful.

If you’re new to design and want to start using Canva as your platform for design, you can sign up here and use the Pro features for 30 days absolutely free of charge.

Here are the differences between pro & free #justsaying

I created a guide for you on how to avoid the most common design mistakes. You can access it here. Keep in mind that by choosing to receive this free resource you will be signed up for my weekly newsletter, which you can unsubscribe from at any stage.

If you need a little more help, I can assist you using Zoom – which we’ll record so you can keep referring back to our session. This link here will get us connected for an hour to walk you through your challenges.

If there is anything else, I can help with, you can always just send me an email, or even connect with me on LinkedIn (as that’s where I’m most active) and engage with me there.

Stephanie 🤍

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