Pexels was founded in 2014 by twin bothers Ingo and Bruno Joseph in Fuldabrück, Hesse with just 800 photos. Acquired by Canva 2018, Pexels provides media for online download, maintaining a library that contains of over 3.2 million photos and videos, growing each month by roughly 200,000 files. The content is uploaded by the users and reviewed manually. Using and downloading the media is free, the website generates income through advertisements for paid content databases.

Lifestyle images are plentiful on Pexels

Photo by Zhanna Fort

If you’re searching for an image like the one above, try using “lifestyle”. You will be rewarded with some really great results. Using “beach” will return similar images, too, if you’re patient enough to work your way through the results. Thankfully, Pexels is similar to Unsplash in the use of keywords, so using “beach lifestyle” returns even better results. This is definitely a great site to use keyword search to find the perfect image.

Pexels has a large collection of beautiful images of the ocean.

Photo by Emiliano Arano

If you love the ocean, Pexels has many search terms available for you to refine the results you are looking for. Start with “ocean” “ocean waves” “oceanshore” and “oceanside”. Then get creative with “underwater” “swimming beach” “seashells” and “breaking waves”.

Pexels is definitely a great place to find home office images.

Photo by Samson Katt

We haven’t discussed this much, but searching for “home office” will yield quite a few awesome images these days, especially here on Pexels. Take your time to go through the images and add new keywords to refine the results. You could also try “freelancer” to see if that helps return what you’re looking for. “Small business” returns completely different results, but does include those small businesses that can be done from home.

Pexels has a great collection of sweets and desserts.

Photo by Vojtech Okenka

Desserts live very happily on Pexels. Start with “dessert” “sweets” “cake” “cupcake” and even “pie”. Be prepared for a few pizza, though! To keep a focus on desserts, not savory dinner options, try a search for “fruit pie” “tarte” or “cheesecake”. Again, be prepared for some odd results! Pexels has wonderful images of brownies,  ice cream, cookies and donuts. For a healthier option “fruit” does very well too.

Use specific keywords to search for vegetables on Pexels.

Photo by Olya Kobruseva

Vegetables are a large collection on Pexels, so using specific keywords will help return much better results, though be prepared to have some of the odd results that you’ll find on Pixabay. Experiment a bit with keywords like “salads” or “healthy food” to expand your results. You will also be pleasantly surprised to see some art shots of vegetables. Just try “radicchio” or “avocado” to see what I mean.

You will find an extensive collection of nature photos on Pexels.

Photo by Sam Kolder

Like all of the stock agencies, you will find an extensive collection of nature images on Pexels. The quality is very good. If you’re not exactly sure what you’re looking for, I would suggest starting with “nature”. When you see something you like, or there’s an element in the image that you like, use that as your starting point for refining your keywords search. The search capability on Pexels is quite granular so you should be able to get exactly what you’re looking for.

Like Unsplash, Pexels has a great collection of architectural photos.

Photo by Luis Ruiz

Architecture is definitely a primary collection on Pexels. Start with the basics “architecture” and “architectural design” to get started, then go from there. Have I mentioned yet that Pexels is very similar to Unsplash in that individual photo pages include “related” images? This is the true power of a stock photography site. So often an image will not be quickly visible on a keyword search. You need to use the “related” images feature to find the true gems that millions haven’t found yet. Giving yourself the time to truly learn what Pexels and the other stock agencies have to offer is what will give you a unique branding option. For free! What can be better than that?

Be sure to search for specific elements of a building to yield great architectural results.

Photo by Michael Burrows

Another great option for architectural images is that buildings have many features such as windows, balconies, and textural details. These images are perfect for backgrounds and design elements to use in graphic design layouts. Try experimenting with keywords to see what turns up. For example, “architectural space” yields some very beautiful and unusual elements. Keep scrolling down the page to see these gems pop up when you least expect it! And go to the photo detail page to see what Pexels recommends as “related” images. Pure magic!

Pexels has a large number of creative shots associated with plants and vegetables.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova

We’ve already discussed vegetables, but this type of image search is where you start with a specific type of vegetable or food item and then watch for creative shots like this one to lead you down the rabbit hole. Once you find even one of these photos you will be able to use the “related” images feature from the photo detail page to get you more of them. The key here is time and persistence. Don’t give up! You will be shocked to see how many unique and wonderful art shots there are, just waiting for you to find them.

There are truly wonderful images of food on Pexels.

Great food images are available on Pexels. Follow the advice given for other categories to get truly exceptional results. Yes, start with “food” “chef” and “meal” – but don’t stop there! Go into categories next, such as “meat” “poultry” “fish” “seafood” “kitchen” and “dining”. I like using combo keywords like “chef female” “chef food” or “dining and wining” to find companion shots or something a bit different. Speaking of which, “wine” returns some great food shots.

Don't be shy about searching for desserts with keywords like celebrations or parties.

Photo by Dmitry Zvolskiy

Here’s another topic we’ve touched on – desserts. For this image, you would be better off searching keywords like “party” “celebration” “birthday party” and other similar search terms. This is where Google can come in to help. Take your initial keyword and enter it into a Google search. Then use all of those Google search results to coax better results from Pexels (or the other stock photography websites like Unsplash and Pixabay). Don’t be shy about using common terms like “birthday cake” “birthday candles” or “new years celebration”. Yes, you will likely need to wade through a ton of unusable images, but treasures are waiting for you! All you need to do is keep at it.

Unsplash Stock Photography

Another leading photography website is Unsplash, a photography resource founded in 2013. Unsplash shares stock photography from over 265,000 contributing photographers and their growing library has over 3.48 million photos.

Pixabay Stock Photography

Another leading photography website is Pixabay, founded in 2010 by Hans Braxmeier and Simon Steinberger. Pixabay is one of the most popular websites for sharing photos, illustrations, vector graphics, film footage and music.

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