5 Places to Find Photos for Your Spec Ads

When you’re creating spec ads, whether on your own or with a design partner (recommended!), you’ll need to find images to use. And, since it’s bad karma to steal other people’s pictures, you’ll need good places to find them. Read on for five great resources…

Today’s question comes from Matthew Y., who asks, “Where can I find good pictures for my spec ads? And ones that aren’t crazy expensive?”

Now, obviously, you can do an images search on Google and get tons and tons of results in return. The problem is that using many of these images in your projects equates to stealing other people’s work for your own purposes.

Now, practically and pragmatically, there’s probably very little chance of you getting caught. Probably. By why worry about it? It’s often just as easy to find the kinds of images you need on sites that will allow you to use them legally.

Here are five resources (most are free) to get you started on your hunt for fair-use images.

1. Flickr If you’ve just been “borrowing” other people’s pictures up until now, you’ve probably already filched a few from Flickr, but there’s also a way to do it that’s both fair and legal. Head over to their “creative commons” section to find images that the photographers are more than happy to let you use.

2. (IM FREE) Though the selection is somewhat limited, the images on this site are realistic and may work very well for some spec pieces. The best part? They’re free, as long as you attribute them. Also, it’s worth noting that the site is relatively new, so the selection is likely to grow.

3. This website is based on the idea of being good to photographers and good to the photo users. Though the images are for online use only, you can use them for free with attribution or pay by the number of people who see the image. It may not quite work for all of your spec projects, but it’s worth checking out. and True, this are actually four separate sites, but they’re very similar in what they offer: free photos. On a couple of these sites, you don’t even have to have an account to download the images. Easy!

5. iStock is, as the name implies, a true stock photo site: It sells professional-quality photos. I mention it, however, because some of the photos can be purchased for as little as $6 for the smallest (but still pretty big) size.

Your turn! What other resources have you or your design partners found? Let us know in the comments below!


About the Author: Nicki Krawczyk
Nicki Krawczyk

Nicki Krawczyk is a copywriter, copy coach and founder of, an online resource that provides tips, tools and training for new and aspiring copywriters.

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