Awesome Real Estate Photo Sources to Help Make Your Content Marketing That Much Better
There are two major challenges that occur when searching for beautiful royalty-free real estate photos. The first one is that most of the sites that say they have royalty-free photos are really just doing some sort of bait and switch. They tease you with the phrase “royalty-free stock photos” and then either want to charge when you need to download an image larger than 150 pixels or charge you for the number of visitors that view the photo on your website or blog. Either way, you are really just renting the photo, which is not what you want. The second major challenge is finding photos that are unique and don’t look like stock photos. You know the ones I’m talking about: almost every real estate website from the last 20 years has used them in some form or another. There is no excuse for using sorry photography, especially now that images have evolved into a form of social currency and our mobile phones have become content creation machines.
The second issue above really hits at the heart of why there are so many horrible real estate websites on the Internet. I think we can all agree that there is no longer a financial or technological obstacle to launching a beautiful real estate website that’s responsive, fast and integrated with your listings, either via IDX integration or manually entered listings. What is often lacking are beautiful non-stock photos that help tell the story of the brand or experience the website is hoping to project. The days of ’borrowing” photos found on the web without obtaining permission from the rightful owner are long gone, as are the days when low quality stock photos helped you stand out from the crowd. While you can shoot your own real estate photos, most folks are just not that great at taking memorable photos. What’s clear is that consumers are demanding unique, engaging experiences online and top notch visuals are part of that experience.
“Content is of great importance, but we must not underestimate the value of style.”
— MAYA ANGELOU
Luckily, there’s been a fantastic trend lately where sites are providing high quality, non-stock, completely free photos to the public on a regular basis. I’ve gathered some of my favorites here for you to review. These photos are great for blog posts, website header images, postcards, social media or for use in any visual storytelling wherever you need digital images. They don’t all scream real estate, but that in my opinion is probably a good thing. And if you add some text as an overlay using any of the iOS or online photo editing tools available, you can create a professional storytelling image for free – and I mean really free. Just bring your imagination, time, and creativity. PS- if you look on our site, you may find some of these images used to help tell our story. Let me know how you get exceptional photos for marketing your business. I’d love to know.
This site provide use of their photos under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license, which just asks that you give the original source credit. You can use the images any way you like.
“Good content is not storytelling. It’s telling your story well.”
— ANN HANDLEY, MARKETINGPROFS
The photos are clearly the work of a professional artist. In this case, it’s the work of Dutch interaction designer Folkert Gorter from his Los Angeles-based studio, Superfamous. Take a look at some of the images:
Dotspin also uses the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license, but has harnessed the power of the crowd with Instagram. In their words, they are building the world’s largest bank of photographic content shared under Creative Commons licenses.
“Content should ask people to do something and reward them for it.”
— LEE ODDEN, TOPRANK MARKETING
There’s a credit and reward system where you get credits by submitting your masterpieces. Take a look! There are some great images to choose from.
Unsplash could be one of my favorites. They have amazing quality images taken by photographers all over the world and they are completely free to use in any way you like. In the spirit of giving back, I still like providing credit, but it’s not required. What’s great about the images is that in the right context, some of the them could tell any story you want and be completely believable.
“People think in stories, not statistics, and marketers need to be master storytellers.”
— ARIANNA HUFFINGTON
Take a look:
Little Visuals is another treasure trove of seriously non-stock photos – beautiful images that you would be happy to print and hang in your living room. They release new photos every week so be sure to keep checking back. And, to top it off, they are also completely free to use however you like.
“Create your own visual style… let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others.”
— ORSON WELLES
If you end up using any of their photos, be sure to thank the folks giving away this amazing art and let them know how valuable it is for you.
More completely free high-resolution images that you can use on your personal and commercial projects. All of the photos were taken by Ryan McGuire of Bells Design. So far, they seem to be adding new images weekly.
“Create something people want to share.”
— JOHN JANTSCH
Gratisography offers some very beautiful and interesting images, definitely not anything you’ll find in the standard stock photo site.
Other Royalty-Free Sites
There are a few other sites I’ve used in the past, most notably Flickr, through which you can narrow your search for Creative Commons images. However, the issue I have with Flickr is the glut of images on the platform. There’s a lot of garbage to sift through to find a gem and that’s true of too many similar sites.
Let us know what you think about these sites and how you get awesome images for your online marketing. Leave a comment below.