Compelling visuals are an essential ingredient in effective content, which is why Adobe Spark includes curated libraries of professional photos in Post, Page, and Video. But we understand that on occasion your photography needs might extend beyond the limits of our in-app libraries. Fortunately there’s a wealth of high-quality images—many of which are free—available under various Creative Commons licenses. Many are licensed at the CC0 level, which means the author has dedicated the work to the public domain and waived all rights. However, regardless of license, there are common sense conditions and best practices for using free imagery, such as not implying that the source endorses your work or product, not using the image for anything offensive or defamatory, and giving proper attribution whenever possible. All image sites post information about their license and terms, so be sure to read up before you download. To get you started, here are a few of our favorite sources for photos to make your content shine.
You’ll have to buy a plan to get access to Adobe Stock’s 75 million high-quality images, graphics, videos, templates, and 3D assets but its seamless integration with Creative Cloud libraries can help take the hassle out of asset management. (For anyone, who’s faced a desktop cluttered with jpegs, you know a little help here is priceless.) Plus, for a limited time, you can take the service for a test drive with 10 free images. We love the curated premium collections, which feature hand-picked images from Stock’s top contributing artists around themes that help make sure you’re hitting the right visual note. More than just a vast collection of assets, the team’s monthly visual trend pieces on the Creative Cloud blog offer cues about how to be of-the-moment and intentional with imagery—an increasingly important consideration when designing for social media.
If free is what you’re after, Pixabay is a great place to start your image search thanks, in part, to the sheer volume of offerings. With over 940,000 free stock photos, vectors, illustrations, and videos in their database, it’s easy to find just about anything you’re looking for across subject and style. We like them so much that we’ve partnered with them to curate our Spark image libraries.
The layout of Unsplash makes it easy to fall into an image-search rabbit hole as dreamy photo after photo spans the width of your screen as you scroll. Their offerings are stylized and tend to evoke a modern, artsy feel. You can browse collections curated by brands such as Thought Catalog and We Work, or by users around themes such as “food is my life.” Some of the photos include a line or two of context from the photographer—a very nice touch.
If you’re looking for imagery that doesn’t take itself too seriously, look no further than Gratisography. These playful and polished photos come from photographer Ryan McGuire, whose professional tagline, “art that makes you smile,” is evident in all the stylized and refreshingly original shots. Browse by your search terms, or by categories including animals, people, and whimsical.
You know video is crucial to your marketing success, but shooting your own video clips can add a ton of time and room for error to the process. Enter Videvo, a stock footage and motion graphics library, that offers a wide range of HD stock video clips. We whipped up the video invite above in Spark Video in about three minutes after getting inspired by the floating food and drink motion graphics collection. You could also easily get sucked into browsing sweet close-ups of cute dogs or slick, subtle motion graphic movements that make for awesome video backgrounds for any project.
Yep, that’s right. The team that put us on the moon is now set to skyrocket your imagery with epic free images and footage of space, the Earth, our solar system, and scientific innovation. The images and videos have no license or copyright attached to them, meaning you can use them without attribution (though you’ll still need written permission to use NASA’s logo). If you’re leveraging the assets for commercial use, be sure to follow the guidelines, however. Still the potential for creativity is as vast as the universe thanks to the government agency: Illustrate abstract ideas with mesmerizing swirling galaxies or align your business goals with NASA’s reputation for innovation by featuring epic shots of space travel. Either way, this awesome free source is surely contributing to the rise of the out-of-this-world space imagery we’re seeing in contemporary design.
We recently learned of this awesome service when a Spark user said “The marriage of Spark and Pexels videos is like peanut butter and chocolate!! They go PERFECTLY together!!” Naturally we had to check it out and we’ve basically been going steady ever since. What’s great about Pexels is that each clip is fairly short, which works well with Spark Video’s editor, descriptive titles and intuitive categories make for easy, efficient browsing, but best of all, the free videos require no attribution. Check out the Spark Video above, created by founder of Gen X Social Lorri Ratzlaff, who uses a Pexel video clip to grab attention in an ad for one of her clients.
This photo collective specializes in gorgeous moody elemental photos and beautiful gradients. The photo inventory is predominantly landscapes that feel more like dreamscapes, with a few architectural features or people peppered in here and there. Unlike many of the other offerings mentioned in this list, the photos on Superfamous Images are available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license, which requires that you give credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
Kaboompics stands out for two reasons: a great inventory of interiors and home decor (the site was founded by an indoor photography specialist) and an innovative color palette feature. Color palettes are generated for every photo, and users can download the palettes along with the photos to help steer them in the right direction for creating content that works with the photo. In addition to categories, users can browse photos by photoshoot, which comes in handy when you like the subject matter of a shot, but are looking for different orientation or composition.
Magdeleine specializes in earthy color palettes and captivating outdoor scenery. None of the photos here are kitschy or overly posed or styled. Like Kaboompics, Magdeleine generates a color palette for every photo. It also allows you to switch the background color from light to dark, which can help give you a better sense of how each photo will interact with your intended content. Some of the photos are in public domain, but others require attribution and a link back to the license, so make sure to check before you download.
Photo: Connor McSheffery; Madeleine
These vibrant, eye-catching graphics are great for backgrounds on fliers, ads, or social posts, or anywhere you want to create a colorful, visually rich experience without photos (which can sometimes be limiting or distracting). Choose from intricate color patterns and plenty of seasonal themes.
Created and maintained by Leeroy, an advertising agency in Montreal, Life of Vids and its better-known sister site Life of Pix bring you beautiful imagery that is designed with your content needs in mind. Life of Vids specializes in short videos that can be used however you like. A link back to Leeroy or Life of Vids/Pix is appreciated.
If you’re looking for something truly unique, or if you’d like to add a touch of authentic history to your project, check out Old Book Illustrations. Here you can browse vintage illustrations by subject, format, artists, or book title. Where else are you going to find a 19th-century personified tulip?
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