I had the pleasure of talking about trends in communications* at an IABC meeting last week. One of the 10 trends I highlighted is visual content.

Visual content has exploded—and people who post visual content are being rewarded on various social platforms. Facebook prioritizes visuals in the news feed. Twitter profiles now have a separate category for photos and videos. And, of course, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube are all about pictures—static and moving.

Visual content cuts through the content noise.

Relevant Visuals Get More Views

This is one reason why you may have noticed that I have been adding more photos and graphics into my blog posts. This also means more visual options when people share my content on social platforms.

While I’ve long relied on Flickr for blog images, I’ve recently started exploring other sites—both for the blog and also for presentations and other business uses.

Four great places to find fabulous free photos.

A Winter's Day (via Unsplash)

Here are four sites I love:

  1. Death to the Stock Photo: Sign up, and each month you will receive an email with high-quality, downloadable photos. These are stock photos, but the imagery is consistently far more interesting than most of what you can find on iStock. It’s also a great way to build a photo library.
  2. Unsplash: Unsplash adds 10 new high-resolution photos every 10 days. You can sign up for the email or just scroll through the collection.
  3. Little Visuals: Another site that delivers high-quality images into your inbox. If you’re looking for writing inspiration, these photos can tell a story.
  4. Gratisography: This is a smaller collection of quirky photos. And they are all awesome.

Not every photo is a free photo.

The four sites featured in this post offer free photos that can be used without attribution. But not every photo on the Web is a free photo. And not every “free” photo is attribution-free. Actually, most are neither.

You probably know this, but a surprising number of people think that any image on the Web is free for the taking. Don’t be one of those people. Understand your options, including what you can and can’t do with traditional copyrighted images and under the various Creative Commons licenses.

What are your go-to photo resources?

*Missed my talk? I’ll be reprising my presentation on trends in communications at an American Marketing Association meeting in Charlottesville on January 20. If you’re in Central Virginia, please join us there.