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In this post, I’ll let you know my tips on how to find the best Unsplash stock photos that fit your branding and express the image or lifestyle you want to convey. I’ll also share my personal favourite Unsplash photographers for beautiful blog photos, and tips on how to avoid over-used stock photos.
While I typically use my own photography on my creative lifestyle blog, I often fill in the gaps with stock photos. It makes sense for my blogging niche to take my own photos, particularly for product reviews and creative DIY’s. However, sometimes I just don’t have time or enough daylight (I live in England) for decent photography.
On the other hand, this website is focused on personal finance, blogging and side hustles. That means I have a bit more freedom to pick out styled stock photos that fit with my branding, as opposed to taking photos of books or clothes for review posts. Does that make sense?
Many bloggers prefer to solely use stock photography so they can focus on writing. Perhaps you’ve invested in a professional styled stock photo library like IvoryMix. It’s up to you! Personally, while I’ve invested in a few stock photo libraries, Unsplash is still my go-to for blog photos.
What Is Unsplash?
I’m sure you’ve already heard of Unsplash if you’re a blogger or Medium writer. In case you haven’t, Unsplash is a free stock photo website that allows creatives to share their high-resolution photos for personal and commercial use.
No attribution (credit) is required when using Unsplash photographs, but it’s nice to credit the photographer where possible. Unsplash provides a useful copy-and-paste caption you can use if you want to.
The site has over 1 million images uploaded by contributors from all around the world. I’ve uploaded some of my own free stock photos you can check out if you like!
What I love most about Unsplash is that they have a team of real humans approving, curating and tagging photos. This is why their platform is full of excellent photography, and their search feature results are great.
6 Ways To Use Unsplash Photographs
- Throughout your blog posts to break up text.
- As featured images on Medium articles.
- Social media posts, e.g. backgrounds for Instagram graphics.
- Pinterest pins to drive traffic to your blog.
- To make moodboards, collages or vision boards.
- As references for art!
How To Find Perfect Unsplash Stock Photos
My biggest tip for finding perfect Unsplash stock photos is to know your branding. Whether you’re a blogger or an Instagrammer, you’ll want to create a consistent aesthetic style.
Here are some ways to create a consistent photography aesthetic:
- Stick to your colour scheme.
- Finding a couple of go-to Unsplash photographers. You can follow creators on Unsplash, and curate photos you like into collections. This feature is incredibly helpful for visualising how the photos work together as a whole.
- What textures work with your branding? Silk, wood, leather, grass, paper, brick, marble?
- Think about whether you prefer busy and eclectic images, or minimalistic photos with one main focus.
- Do you prefer styled stock photos like flatlays, or natural candid shots of nature and cities?
Some Unsplash stock photos are wildly popular, as you’ve probably noticed yourself. I often come across the same images on many blogs and Medium articles. If you’ve seen a photo over and over again, try to find something a bit different!
So how do you avoid using an extremely popular stock image?
If you haven’t already, make an Unsplash account. Trust me.
I mentioned the ‘follow’ feature on Unsplash above, but here’s why it’s really helpful: if you like a particular photographer’s work, following them means you can snag their latest pics before they get blasted all over the blogosphere.
Avoid the popular page. Get lost in a rabbit hole of photography. You’ll find something unique to help your article or social media post stand out from the crowd.
Oh, and be as specific as you can when searching. Tags are your friend! More on that below.
Tags To Search on Unsplash
Tags are obviously really helpful for finding the right stock photos.
You can also use them to find collections curated by other Unsplash users. They’ve essentially done the work for you!
Make your own collections based on themes, colours, and textures. That way you don’t need to download and organise every photo you like to your computer. You can make your collections public or private, it’s up to you.
Here are some Unsplash tags I find helpful:
- ‘Ready For Type’. This tag brings up photos with blank space, perfect for adding text. These make great featured images for blog posts, or quote graphics for Instagram.
- ‘Flatlay’ or ‘Overhead’. This one will help you find those aesthetically pleasing styled photographs, often featuring laptops, notebooks and props.
- Try metaphorical tags, like emotions or feelings. You don’t always have to be literal, try searching for nostalgia, loneliness, or solitude.
- Combine your keywords and use phrases. For example ‘smiling woman wearing sunglasses’.
- Can’t find what you’re looking for? Use synonyms. E.g. baked goods vs pastries, or person vs portrait.
- Use Photography Terms for a specific look. I mentioned the famous ‘flatlay’ above, but you can also search for things like ‘macro’, ‘low angle’, or ‘bokeh’.
Search by Colour and the Visual Search Feature
Don’t forget that you can also search Unsplash stock photos by colour! Unfortunately, Unsplash doesn’t have a specific colour searching feature (e.g. by using HEX codes), but photos are tagged by colour.
The visual search feature on Unsplash allows you to find similar images to any photo you upload.
If you use Pinterest, you’ll notice that it’s like their visual search, or when Google Images recommends visually similar images. The difference here of course is that Unsplash stock photos are free to use commercially without attribution.
Don’t ever use a photo from Pinterest in your blog post, because you could have a copyright claim on your hands. As a Pinterest creator myself, I’ve sent a lot of DMCA takedown requests to websites that have used my photographs without permission.
18 Unsplash Photographers You Need To Know About
I’ve been using Unsplash for years, so it’s about time I share my favourite creators with you. Here are 18 Unsplash Photographers you need to know about!
There are over 211,166 photographers on Unsplash in 2021, so if you don’t like any of these, start browsing and find your own favourites.
Katie’s photography is bright, feminine, and focuses on styled flatlays with a finance theme. @KHarp on Unsplash.
If you’re into the ‘girlboss’ aesthetic, make sure to check out Nicola’s photography. Nicola herself is the founder of Hey Beauti Magazine, and an illustrator. @heybeautimagazine on Unsplash.
Toa’s natural lifestyle photography showcases earthy tones, a minimal neutral aesthetic, and a lot of food. Their city travel shots are stunning too! @heftiba on Unsplash.
Ella is a Brazilian photographer who takes lovely home office stock photos, featuring lots of pinks and florals. @DaniellaJardim on Unsplash.
Primarily known as a food blogger, Karly Gomez also shares styled food photography on Unsplash. If you have a food blog, check out @KarlyGomez on Unsplash.
Georgia de Lotz
Georgia is a styled stock photographer from Bristol, UK. Her elegant Unsplash stock photos feature a lot of botanicals! @GeorgiadeLotz on Unsplash.
If you’re looking for beautiful minimal home decor photography, have a browse of Liana’s Unsplash profile @LianaMikah.
Jing Xi Lau
Jing’s photography is eclectic and colourful with a bohemian look – definitely my vibe! @Imajingation on Unsplash.
If you’re a faith blogger, Fa Barboza’s photography will be ideal for you. Their shots feature prayer, the Bible, and lovely portraits. @Fan11 on Unsplash.
Laura’s work focuses on fashion, minimalism and beauty. She has certainly mastered the self-portrait, with lots of creative poses! One thing I love about Laura’s Unsplash is that she uploads many variations of the same photograph, which is perfect for a blog post. @LauraChouette on Unsplash.
Paige Cody is one of my all-time favourite Unsplash photographers. Her work is very whimsical with creative styling. You can tell that a lot of thought goes into her photos! @Paige_Cody on Unsplash.
Priscilla Du Preez
Priscilla’s photographs look like they belong in a fashion or lifestyle magazine. You’ll find a huge range of stunning photos on her profile: @priscilladupreez on Unsplash, including pics of an adorable pug!
Elena’s photos are perfect for art and craft bloggers. They feature handwritten quotes, doodles, bullet journals and watercolours. @miracleday on Unsplash.
If you’re looking for clean, minimal photography, Sincerely Media is the one for you! @SincerelyMedia on Unsplash.
Julia is a photographer from St Petersburg, Russia. Her bio reads ‘in love with twigs and bokeh’, which sums up her dreamy nature photos pretty well! She also shares photos of her beautiful art journals. @PureJulia on Unsplash.
If you need tech and gaming-themed photos, check out Nik’s work! You’ll find a range of creative shots, featuring fun patterns, unique concepts and even Lego. @helloimnik on Unsplash.
Beazy is ideal for anyone in the home decor or interior design field looking for professional free stock photos. Their work is very Pinterest! @beazy on Unsplash.
Finally, here’s another great photographer for gaming and tech bloggers. Check out @alexacea on Unsplash for stunning tech flatlays.
I hope you’re inspired to level up your blog posts with the best stock photos on Unsplash!
Maybe you want to contribute your own photographs to Unsplash too! Mine have been featured by huge platforms like Wix, Squarespace, and even a Buzzfeed quiz… pretty cool, huh?