While it would be wonderful if every project came with a big enough budget to commission original photography, the reality is that is an occasional luxury. Most of the time when we are looking for the right image to bring a brochure or website to life, it’s to the online image libraries that we turn. So what image libraries are out there?

The big image libraries
These cover a wide massive range of subjects from a wide variety of photographers. They also offer different licencing models.

Low cost with user generated content
A recent arival on the stock photography scene is user generated content where anyone can submit images for others to use. This results in a masive selection at low cost but you do have to search carefully as quality varies considerably.

Specialist libraries
If you’re looking for something a bit different and maybe an image that your competitors aren’t using then try some of the smaller libraries which have a specific focus.

  • www.britishimages.co.uk
    Photography featuring all things British – from people to places, technology to transport, business to beauty.
  • www.jonarnold.com
    Travel images from a selection of international photoographers
  • www.ardea.com
    Images of wildlife, pets and the environment.
  • a1pix.com
    All types of images but strong background in landscape photography.
  • www.foodanddrinkphotos.com
    Independent UK image library dedicated to food and drink related photography.
  • www.stockfood.co.uk
    Stock photography agency devoted entirely to food
  • www.surfpix.co.uk
    The title of this one gives it away a bit, a UK based site with stock surfing imagery and coverage of surfing events worldwide.
  • www.picturehooked.co.uk
    Uk based libarary covering a range of subjects though without a massive selection. Most images have an ‘arty’ feel.
  • www.loupeimages.com
    Lifestyle images covering interiors, gardens, body & soul, food & drink and occasions.
  • www.harpurgardenimages.com
    Over 100,000 photographs of gardens and plants from the UK and abroad by Jerry and Marcus Harpur.
  • www.escapeimages.com
    Covers world travel, cities, landscapes, nature and the great outdoors.
  • www.tipsimages.co.uk
    Travel and leisure images.
  • www.newspix.com.au
    Specialising in images from News Limited’s 150 newspapers and archives of 40+million photos. News. Sport. Celebrities. Arts. Crime. Business. Fashion. Travel. Australiana. Historical.
  • www.photofusionpictures.org
    Covers all aspects of social and environmental life in the UK.
  • www.stevebloom.com
    Evocative images of the natural world especially Africa.
  • www.soniahalliday.com
    With a main theme of stained glass windows and general themes of history and religion.
  • www.jane-annbutlerphotography.com
    Beautiful fine art photography specialising in flowers and interpretations of nature.
  • www.imagesonline.bl.uk
    The British Library’s collection of images for you to licence.
  • www.4cornersimages.com
    Landscape, location and travel photography with both abstract and reportage style imagery.
  • www.triggerimage.co.uk
    Mostly abstract or highly stylised images, but certainly different.
  • www.ecoscene.com
    Ecoscene supply environmental images taken by 120 talented photographers from around the world. All environmental topics are covered with an extensive wildlife collection.
  • www.naturalvisions.co.uk
    Collection of wildlife photography, plants and garden stock images by Heather Angel and associates, portraying the diversity of our living world.

Image library alternatives

  • www.flickr.com
    Flickr is a bit of a different resource as it is all user generated content, there are no concrete guidelines for use of images of Flickr but if you find the right image on there then you can always contact the creator to see if they would be happy for you to use their image.
  • commons.wikimedia.org
    Unlike traditional media repositories, Wikimedia Commons is free. Everyone is allowed to copy, use and modify any files freely as long as the source and the authors are credited and as long as users release their copies/improvements under the same freedom to others.

I hope you find this listing useful, if you have come across any other great image libraries I’d love to hear from you. I’ll try and follow this post up with one about the best ways to get the most from image libraries and to explain some of the technical issues involved.