WordPress does not have stock images by default, but you can use plugins created by stock photo providers to access their stock images directly from WordPress editors. However, many of these plugins never caught on in most cases, so most of them are no longer supported or updated.
A better way of getting stock photos into WordPress is by purchasing a stock photo subscription and then manually uploading the images. You get complete control over editing, cropping, and compression formats.
How do I use WordPress stock images?
Download an image from a stock photo site
I recommend using a trusted source of stock photos to avoid getting into legal trouble and to ensure a large supply of images.
(Optional) Edit, tweak, manipulate, and compress the image.
I use Photoshop to crop photos, add elements, and get the desired resolution.
Upload the image to your WordPress directory. Use Media > Upload in the WordPress dashboard.
Insert the image into your page or post and add alt text.
Alt text helps with SEO. This way, Google will know what’s in the image. Also, if it doesn’t load, the alt text will tell readers what the image depicts.
Best WordPress Plugins for Stock Photos
WordPress plugins for images are a good idea, but most are not sophisticated enough to be useful for users. For example, most editors crop and compress images before uploading them to posts, but in my experience, these plugins do not support cropping or compressing. So until a better plugin is developed, I recommend you use stock images the old-fashioned way.
If you want to use a WordPress plugin for stock photos, these are your best options:
Shutterstock is one of the most popular stock photo sites globally, thanks to its diversity and image quality. In July 2021, Shutterstock released its WordPress plugin that allows you to browse all Shutterstock images directly in the WordPress editor. Since then, the plugin has been downloaded over 4,000 times and is updated regularly.
However, you do not get free stock images with the Shutterstock plugin. To use it, you must first have a valid Shutterstock subscription or credit package and then request access via an online form. Once you get approved, you can connect the plugin to your subscription and start browsing Shutterstock’s database in WordPress.
Instant Images is a popular and regularly updated free stock image plugin (with over 100,000 active installations), allowing you to download photos from Unsplash, Pixabay, and Pexels—my three favorite stock image sites. It’s straightforward to use, supported by Guttenberg and all major page builders, including Elementor, Beaver Builder, Brizy, and Divi.
Recently, it received an update that omits the need to sign up for an Unsplash account to use the plugin. All you need to do is download the plugin and activate it on your WordPress site.
This plugin is similar to Instant Images, but instead of integrating three databases, it only works with Pexels. Although it has over 7,000 active installations, some users complain that it does not work for them. This is not surprising as it has not been updated for 2 years and has not been tested with the last 3 major WordPress versions.
Regardless of the poor stats, you can still try it out by downloading and activating it and then browsing the images at Media > Pexels Photos. You can also use these images as featured images without attributing them to their authors.
StockPack integrates the databases of several image portals at once, including Unsplash, Pixabay, Pexels, Depositphotos, Getty Images, iStock, and Adobe Stock. When you select and download the image, it’s stored in your WordPress folder, as if you uploaded it manually through Media > Add New.
StockPack isn’t compatible only with WordPress’ native editor Gutenberg but also with most major page builders, including Elementor, Beaver Builder, Divi, Thrive Themes, Oxygen Builder Visual Composer, and Avada Fusion Builder.
I tried answering as many questions about WordPress and stock images, but don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have more.
Does WordPress have free stock images?
WordPress doesn’t have a free collection of stock images. However, you can use plugins that integrate free image databases like Unsplash, Pexels, and Pixabay.
Are images on WordPress copyrighted?
Free stock images that can be integrated into WordPress are copyrighted, but you may use the photos for free and without attribution.
How do I give an image credit in WordPress?
You don’t have to credit the source for most stock images, but if you do, you should credit it directly below the picture. If that’s not possible, add it to the bottom of the page or design in which you used the image.
The above solutions provide a similar service, but none satisfy users who want to edit the images or make advanced settings. Purchasing a stock photo subscription separately and then uploading the images to their WordPress directory is better for these users.