FOOD STOCK PHOTOGRAPHY – Food photography is an important part of every restaurant’s website, social media design and marketing material. Good food is what attracts most people to a restaurant in the first place.
However, most restaurant owners don’t have the photography skills, equipment or money to produce high-quality food photography for their restaurant. While a photo-shoot by a professional photographer can cost thousands.
20 Free Food Stock photography Website for Restaurants
Fortunately there are several free stock food photography websites available to restaurants. In this article, we’ve put together a list of 20 different websites that provide free stock food photos that you can use for your restaurant’s website or social media marketing.
StockSnap curates a collection of the highest quality images from a pool of submissions. All of their photos are free to download and do not require attribution.
Foodiesfeed is a resource of naturally looking food photos that are completely free to download. Food photographers from all around the world share their photos under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license.
Stockvault is a free stock photo community where photographers and artists share their own photos with the world. The collection of over 112,000 photos are completely free to download.
4. Iso Republic
ISO Republic provides free stock photos for creative professionals. Over 2,500 high quality images have been published, with more being added each and every day. Check out their food category here.
5. Negative Spaces
Negative Space gives photographers a platform where they can share their photography with the world. All photos are high-resolution and free to use without attribution.
Pixabay is a community of creative people who have shared over 1,120,000 copyright free images and videos. All images are safe to use without permission or giving credit under Creative Commons CC0. While a search function is included to find specific photos.
Unsplash has over 200,000 free high-resolution photos that are taken by their community of photographers. All photos are free to use for both commercial and noncommercial purposes.
Pexels provides high quality and completely free stock photos. They currently have over 30,000 free stock photos while adding at least 3,000 new photos each month. All photos are tagged and easily searchable to find exactly what you’re looking for.
Burst is a collection of free stock photos powered by Shopify. All photos are offered under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0). You are free to use the photos for any purpose necessary without attribution. Check out their popular food photography collection here.
10. Free Food Photos
Free Food Photos provides a selection of quality food photography. The site was born in 2013 when two food lovers realized that there was a lack of food photography with ‘good taste’ available online. Their aim is to solve that problem.
Skitterphoto was launched by amateur photographers in 2014. Good quality free photos were hard to find so they started sharing their own. Photos are published under Creative Commons (CC0).
12. Life of Pix
Life of Pix is a collection of free high-resolution photos with no copyright restrictions. Images are free for personal and commercial use.
Gratisography displays free high-resolution pictures that you can use on personal or commercial projects. New pictures are added to the collection weekly and free of copyright restrictions.
Freepik is a leading search engine of free high quality graphics including photos, vectors and PSD files.
Freestocks photos are free and licensed under Creative Commons Zero (CC0). You are allowed to copy, modify and use them for both personal and commercial prjects.
Picjumbo is a free stock photo site created by photographer Viktor Hanacek. All pictures are free to use and have been downloaded more than 5,000,000 times.
Kaboompics is a royalty-free service for stock images. There are over 5,000 images ready for you to download and start using.
MMT provides free photography for personal and commercial use under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. Each photo may be freely downloaded, used, and redistributed.
19. Shot Stash
Shot Stash is a collection of free stock photos with no royalties or fees. New images are added every day to the site.
20. Stock Free images
Stock Free Images is a project that was created to feature content donated by Dreamstime contributors for free download. Some images may require attribution.
While having your own food professionally photographed is always recommended, stock food photos can save you a lot of time and money. Use stock photos while you’re waiting to do your own photo-shoot or in marketing materials that require large high-quality images.
There is no shortage of options out there. You’ll be able to find almost any food dish that you can imagine. While stock photos used to have a bad reputation, that’s simply no longer the case. These resources curate photos from some of the best photographers in the world!
9 Tips For Succesfully Selling Food Stock Photography
Today we’re diving into probably one the most googled questions of recent years: How to make money as a food blogger? For many food bloggers, making money doing what we love can be an illusive unicorn. There are so many ways to establish a food blog revenue stream these days – ads, sponsored content, cookbooks, meal plans, and other branded products.
A passive income stream not often discussed is selling stock food photography. Selling stock food photography, especially for emerging food bloggers who do not have access to sponsored content and premium ad networks, can be a terrific passive income source provided the content is executed intentionally and distributed via the right platform.
Cameron and I began blogging as a way to market the work we’d already been doing for several years as assignment and stock food photographers. We’ve grown our premium stock food photography portfolios to over 5,000 images and we’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way.
And as lead editor for a premium stock agency, Cameron coaches new and established photographers on how best to stay on top of the stock game. If you too have an interest in getting into the world of stock food photography, or enhancing your existing portfolio, read our top tips for succeeding in the world of selling stock food photography.
1. It’s Not About You (Or Anyone else)
Anonymity and versatility are the hallmarks of successfully selling stock food photography. A woman isn’t “Nancy” – she is every woman. A perfectly grilled steak represents a backyard BBQ, how to feed a hungry husband, or a paleo meal. Create a portfolio of stock food images that can be used in as many ways as possible.
For every stock food photoshoot we do, we ask ourselves “Is this useful?” Not every image will hit this benchmark, but you need a core group of images that will. The 80/20 rule applies: 20% of your images will drive 80% of your revenue. The remaining 80% of images will be more niche, but they’ll drive new buyers to your portfolio.
Take some time to consider how you see images used in marketing campaigns in your everyday life and apply what you see to the photos you’re capturing. If your images are too niche or narrow, they won’t sell to a wide audience – and selling to a wide audience is how you ultimately win at the stock game (by selling the same image multiple times). As a side note, this means anything noticeably copyrighted or trademarked is out.
2. Be delicuous
This should go without saying, but bears stating. No matter how technically perfect your images are, if the food isn’t screaming “eat me now!” your technical prowess won’t matter. As food bloggers, we typically set high standards for our recipe posts, and you should bring those same standards into any work you create exclusively for stock.
3. Develop a Look
You need to develop a commercially saleable brand for your food stock photography, but this doesn’t mean that your photos need to look like everyone else’s. Whether your brand is dark and moody or light and fun matters little as long as it’s cohesive and consistent. Cameron and I spent a lot of time and experimentation developing our stock brand, which happens to be (mostly) clean, fresh, and brightly lit.
We can do dramatic studio lighting. We can do trendy, chef inspired dishes. But for the most part, we don’t represent these styles in our stock portfolio. Once we established our brand and a healthy portfolio that represented it well, we saw a dramatic increase in food stock sales. Why? Because clients both recognize and trust our brand – and it fits with the stories they tell.
They’ve bookmarked our galleries and know they can come to us for what our brand provides. By developing a look, instead of a niche (for example, all healthy foods, etc.) we’ve been able to offer an extremely wide variety of content to a focused audience.
This has created buyers who repeatedly visit and purchase from our portfolio. As a side note, we regularly create content that doesn’t make it onto the blog. While our stock photography and blog brands are similar, they are not identical, and that’s okay! While our blog is a wonderful marketing tool, it’s also a creative space that we use to explore new trends and ideas.
4. Be Timeless, But Not Trite
Stock is a long game, and if you keep at it long enough, you’ll have a percentage of your portfolio that will sell month after month for several years – this is your evergreen content. We have found the average lifespan of solid, timeless food portraits in our collection to be anywhere from 3.5-5 years. That’s a long time!
This means you’ll need to develop a strong, commercial portfolio of highly saleable images that have longevity. When you’re first starting out, we recommend going for the least common denominator. Tacos, pasta, colorful salads, pizza, burgers, wings, cakes, sweets…all of the edibles that have long shelf lives.
These are commercially attractive foods that will never be out of vogue. Use these timeless foods to develop your look and brand. Here are some of our most commercially successful stock food photos in this category:
On a related note, keep your styling current, but simple. Props are important, but there’s something to be said about not taking the styling too seriously. Don’t overcomplicate with super trendy props and intricate styling until you know your buyer. One cliche is still true – a picture tells a thousand words. But don’t let it tell a million.
5. Know When to Be On Trend
That being said, there’s a time and a place to be on trend. Do your research and keep on top of food trends. Pick your battles wisely, and know what’s going to be a hot ticket for a solid period time (at least a year) and what’s a fleeting fad. As an example, we’ve had a lot of long tail success with paleo content, like the paleo breakfast tacos below, while turmeric was a stock flop and blog win.
Ultimately, you have to know what the market is looking for. Isolated apples on white are passe. Gorgeous food that looks like it’s out of an issue of Bon Appetit is on point. The blogger “style” is highly desirable right now – take advantage of that!
6. Tella A Story. Add a Human Touch
Hands, arms, and faces where natural and appropriate will enhance sales because these elements pull the viewer into an experiential role.
Experiment with food images that tell a story or represent a lifestyle. There are ways to capture movements like farm-to-table, paleo eating, and fitness (and on the flip side, concepts like gluttony) with simple food portraits. Prep shots, serving shots, a half-eaten sandwich, and other “food in process” shots are all fair game and contribute to the story you’re telling. We often find that several images from a set will be sold together, and each image is a different chapter of the buyer’s narrative.
Eventually you can start to experiment with lifestyle food images – backyard BBQ’s, holiday dinners, family brunch at home, cocktail parties, and more. These can be much more complicated shoots that involve models, model releases, and careful attention to detail, but they are an excellent revenue driver and largely evergreen content.
Fair warning – they are also exhausting! We only produce a handful of food lifestyle stories per year, but lifestyle stock food photography shoots are totally worth the effort (and a ton of fun).
7. Create a Color Story
Pick a focal primary color, and then one or two secondary colors and integrate them subtly into your color story. Think about your photos from the perspective of a graphic designer, who is ultimately the end user of purchased content.
8. Anticipate Teh Seasons and the Holidays
As with the blogging world, food stock photography gets very hot around the winter holidays. However, the buying season starts much earlier – usually in September, lasting through the first week or so of December. That means you’ll need to start thinking about holiday food over the summer. Create a strategic plan for selling your stock food photography so that your content is available by August.
This will ensure that it’s been uploaded, review, and approved by your stock photography agency with enough time to be in front of buyers as they start building inspiration galleries in early fall. This “schedule” holds true for most food stock photography content. We generally plan at least three months ahead for seasonal material.
As a corollary, embrace the holidays, but don’t be cliche. Again, see #6. Find a fresh way of telling a timeless story in your style. Familiar isn’t always desirable.
9. Be Patient
Selling stock food photography is a long game, and there is little instant gratification (although it does happen from time to time!). Cameron advises new stock contributors (in general) that it takes a portfolio size of about 1,000 on brand images before sales become consistent.
Because food stock is a bit of a niche in the industry, we found that once we hit about 500 images in our premium collection our sales leveled out to a predictable monthly number (with consistent increases as we added more relevant, salable content). But as we mentioned above, solid evergreen content will continue to pay for many years ahead, and in that vein, stock is a lot like blogging.