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It goes without saying that imagery is vital to any marketing project. But how do you keep the cost manageable and still look good?

There is a moving away from overly clinical studio shots that look too corporate and an increasing trend to use authentic imagery. These are known as unstock images.

Brands are wanting to give the impressions of authenticity and genuineness which means the ‘rough and ready’ look is in right now.

Film photography or digital photography that has filters influenced by film are associated with enthusiasts and hobbyists.

They are done in leisure time, outside of work, free from brand constraints.

In other words the photograph was taken by someone who wanted to be there.

By using these types of images in a marketing campaign, the product and brand are able to reach into that space usually reserved for our precious obsessions. They speak to us in terms and feelings of lifestyle not product.

So where can you find these sorts of images, short of hiring your own 35mm photographer and waiting for the photographs to be developed (which is a great idea by the way if you have the time and money)? is my first port of call. It is a free download site and is chock full of the sorts of images described above. All the images can be used for any project without having to attribute the photographer. They also have a neat Chrome plug-in where one of their photos appears as the background when you open a new tab.

Death To Stock has two levels – a free email subscription and a premium service. With the free subscription, every 2 to 4 weeks you will get an email with a download link of a new project from a different photographer. The download has about 7-8 gorgeous photographs that are free to use personally or commercially. It’s really useful to save these and have a bank of images ready to choose from for your next project. The Premium service allows you to have access to every photo.


[Photo from Death To Stock]

Most stock websites make you pay for a subscription which can be expensive especially if you don’t need imagery that often. The idea, of course, is to force you into becoming loyal to that site. However, there are a couple that are pay-by-image and have a good selection of unstock images.

One of these is Creative Market. Using the search box you can choose to search just photos. You can pick up a decent unstock photo for $10USD and under.

The other one worth mentioning is PhotoDune by Envato. They recently had a big drive to encourage photographers to upload their unstock imagery to widen their range and style of imagery. They did have a specific site dedicated to unstock but have since merged that with their existing library. This means they are a bit harder to find but you can include ‘unstock’ in your search terms and this helps. Again, $10USD should be sufficient to find a good unstock image.


CM Nature Vol 1 5

[Photo from Creative Market]

photodune 15860456 tennis ball on tennis grass court

[Photo from PhotoDune]