Photo of someone taking a photograph. Image looks into the lens of the camera, with autumnal trees behind.

6 great stock image sites for voiceovers

Humans are visual beings, so where to source our images from? These are my go-to great stock image sites that I use all the time.

Images are useful. They grab attention, evoke emotion and can represent quickly what written text is about. Our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text. So using images on our websites, in marketing, and on social media will increase engagement.

Some stock sites can get expensive quickly, but most voice overs shouldn’t need to spend much – if any – money on stock images. These are the sites I use most regularly. 

As a note – when I mention a site is free to use – that includes free for commercial use. So yes, you can use these sites for your business. But always check the licences before you use them because not all images are free to use. When it comes to copyright – nothing is ever free.

Always check the licence before you use an image and NEVER pull an image from google search and use it. NEVER EVER. I know people who have been fined several hundred pounds for misusing a licenced stock image. You wouldn’t like your voice being used un-licenced, so don’t do the same to other artists.


Things to watch out for

Fake feel

I find many stock images twee or overly staged, some are poor quality. I’m UK based, and I want our images to reflect that. So that means no pictures of roads with cars driving on the right. Money symbols in British pounds £ rather than dollars or euros. Where I can, I’ll use images taken in the UK or Manchester. It’s not something I need to do each and every time I use an image, but the thought is always at the back of my mind. Try to ensure your photos are relevant to you, reflect what you do and where you’re based, and – most importantly – align with your branding.

Industry relevant

Finding decent images for a voiceover can be particularly tricky. Most studio images on stock sites tend to be for musicians, DJs or podcasters. Or the studios can often be HUGE – nothing like the home studios many of us work from.

Be aware of the kit used in images too. I’m not about to use an image of a USB mic, or a mic that is suited for use with a drum kit when we’re talking about voice over. Rob is the expert here, so I’ll always check with him before using stock images of kit, studios, mics etc. Make sure your photos are a true reflection.

TIP – studio photos, it’s usually better to get a photoshoot of your booth – if you’re planning a shoot, or looking to take some photos of your own – here are some tips on how to plan and prep – a voice artist’s guide to great photography.


Search tips

Remember when you’re searching for images, most stock sites are based around American English. Searching for American English phrases can result in better image selections – although not all of the time. It’s generally down to the photographer to tag the images so they appear in searches and some words/phrases have multiple definitions depending on where in the globe you are. ‘Fall’ in the UK (a trip or stumble) is different to ‘Fall’ in the USA (autumnal season – although also reflects leaves falling from trees). There are lots of food name differences – courgette v zucchini, coriander v cilantro, aubergine v eggplant.

It’s also worth searching with emotive words too – not just the object you’re trying to find. Words like confused, happy, playful or stressed will bring up all sorts of options. Searching for ‘voiceover’ won’t bring up many (if any) results. Searching for ‘microphone’ will inevitably bring up images that aren’t relevant to voiceover. Keep trying different words until you find what you’re after.

Be warned

Some sites will try to push you into their paid alter egos. Your free search results will likely be smattered with image adverts from pay-to-use stock sites. You’ll get used to spotting them quite quickly, but it’s easy to end up unknowingly in a paid stock site, find the perfect image and then realise it’ll cost to use it.

Further advice

For more advice on image quality, size, file formats and how to start planning a photoshoot, read my a voice artist’s guide to great photography blog.

Image compression

I cannot state how important it is to make sure each and every single image you add to your website has had some image compression. This is a FREE TOOL – all you have to do is drop the image onto TinyJPG.com and download the compressed and much smaller-sized image. Smaller image = quicker load time = more accessible and more SEO friendly. What’s not to like?


1. Unsplash

unsplash.com

Price: Free & subscription options

Licence: unsplash.com/license

Probably my favourite stock site (I use the free version). You don’t need permission to use the images – they are free for commercial and non-commercial use, but attribution is appreciated. Filters for topics, trending and collections to help guide your searches.


2. Canva

canva.com

Price: Part of the pro account plan

Canva is a hugely powerful design tool, so why have I included it here? There are some icons available with the free account, but with the paid account there are lots of resources. From videos, images, GIFs and mock-ups – you can easily get lost looking for things. Fab for creating a wide range of marketing materials from blog images, social posts (and scheduling), presentations, stationery and even websites.


3. The Noun Project

thenounproject.com

Price: Free and paid options available

The Noun Project has photos and icons. Personally, I’m a huge fan of the icons section (I have the unlimited individual plan). It’s particularly useful for website icons, but I do use them elsewhere too.


4. Pexels

pexels.com

Price: Free

Licence/terms of use: https://www.pexels.com/license/

Photo and videos, free to use and a wide variety of subjects. The site has trending and suggested search terms to guide you through the search results which can be handy.


5. Pixabay

pixabay.com

Price: Free

Licence/terms of use: pixabay.com/service/terms

Good for images, videos, illustrations, GIFs, music and sound effects. Another huge resource, with a wide variety of topics and themes covered.


6. Textures.com

textures.com

Price: Free & paid subscriptions

Saving another favourite site of mine until last. This site is specifically for textures – as the name suggests – so don’t come here if you’re looking for a traditional stock image. However, if you’re looking for an image of a distressed brick wall to use as a background in a social post, a marble pattern you can repeat and tile to make a background, this is the site for you. I love this gem of a site – it’s particularly favoured with game developers, but I use pics from here all the time.


Cover image photo by Andrei Panfiloiu on Unsplash

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