Stock photos and vector graphics are the easiest way to jump start your design projects. Royalty free libraries are especially useful, because they remove the licensing woes that can often arise when using other people’s content.
What is Royalty Free?
Royalty Free content means you don’t need to pay ongoing licensing or royalties in order to use the content. This means once you have obtained the license for the media in the first place, you are freed of any ongoing fees or burdens. Not all stock photo sites are royalty free, but the ones listed here are.
Here is my list of the top three royalty free stock photo libraries for Churches:
Creation Swap is an online directory of stock photos, videos and other resources for churches. It’s fairly new to the scene, and generally the material is of very high quality. Many items are free, but there are also premium items you can purchase for a small fee.
Stock.xchng are my go-to royalty free stock photo providers. Not only are they royalty free, by they are 100% free. There is not a single charge involved in using this website.
While their website search can leave a little to be desired, they provide a solid library of over 400,000 images. Most are 100% free, but some require either notice of use, credit provided, or permission from the uploader.
Photo Dune are my fallback position when Stock.xchng fail me. They are part of the Envato network, which offer over 5,000,000 items for sale. Depending on the resolution of the item, expect to pay anywhere from $1 to $10 per item. Photos I purchase usually land in the $5 range.
Graceway Media are unique in that they produce church oriented graphics and videos, ready to use. You just download the file and it’s ready to project, upload, or print.
Some of their files include layered versions for Photoshop, allowing you to customise the text. However, don’t expect to get every background element as a separate layer. It’s generally two layers – the text and the background image.
There is also a big library of video loops.
Just be careful – their graphics tend to come off as overly ‘American’. Even if it’s not a particularly American image, the style still seems to communicate this feel. If you are based in the USA, then this is perfect. If you’re like me and serving in an Australian church, then you need to be more careful.
This site requires a subscription in order to use. The “Total Media” subscription is $400/year. You’ve really got to want it to pay that price.
If you are looking for more church design resources, please check out my Free Church Design Resources article from last month. It’s got a collection of freebies you are free to use at your church – with no charge required.