Ugly Stock Photos - The Bad
Stock photography is a multi-billion dollar market, expected to reach $20B by 2020.
There's obviously a massive need for stock images, whether it's for websites, or social media posts or presentation software ;). However, the quality of these stock photos hasn't improved at all in years: your standard Google search will still yield watermarked iStockPhotos and Shutterstock and they are all pretty much the same.
Stock photos that don't look stock - The Tip
There is hope, people! Our favorite stock photo source is called Unsplash, and it's completely free. The site has 25,000 contributing photographers, and their content has an estimated 1 billion photo impressions per month.
All images in Unsplash are covered under the Creative Commons Zero license, which means that you can download, modify them and use them for whatever you want (except another competing service, duh).
Unsplash was founded in Montreal in 2013, by Mikael Cho. Mikael suffered the pain of finding stock photography for a website he was creating, so he started Unsplash as a side business.
Since then, a lot of initiatives have followed the copyright-free photography model, some of our favorite examples are startupstockphotos.com and Pexels.
Another related example is PlaceIt.net, who specializes on device photos (technically, they are a mockup generator). You can upload a screenshot to PlaceIt and they will automatically fit it to the device in the photo, glare and all.
We also integrated the Flickr API on our Slidebean Create platform, which allows users to browse and use photos from the Flickr gallery without leaving the app (we also filter to ensure only Creative Commons images show up).
Bureo: the perfect combination of design + environmental impact - The Good
I met the Bureo team back in 2014, when we were part of the Start-Up Chile program in Santiago- they were about to launch their Kickstarter campaign. Bureo has since become one of my favorite companies in the world.
They created a network in Chile (Net Positiva) to collect abandoned fishnets from the ocean, which they then process and reshape into lovable Californian products, such as skateboards, frisbees, sunglasses and most recently, a Jenga!
We actually sponsored Bureo as part of our CONTRAST: Meaningful Design grant back in May 2017.
But the reason why they are relevant today is because of their absolutely stunning branding (which obviously doesn't have a single stock photo). Their imagery, their videos and every single one of their brand publications follows an unmistakable standard, that speaks about how passionate they are about their own design.