USGBC Studio cheat sheet: Finding the best stock photos

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USGBC Studio cheat sheet: Finding the best stock photos

A relevant and impactful image can take your blog post or collateral piece to the next level. And although the Internet is full of images, pulling pictures from the web can be tricky. It may seem easy enough to copy and paste whatever image you find, but photo usage rights need to be kept in mind while searching for the perfect fit for your content.

Custom photography would be a great option, and specific to exactly what you need. However, many people or companies don’t have the resources or skills to set up their own photo shoots. Websites such as iStock, Shutterstock and Getty Images, that sell photos, videos, graphics, and so on, are one good place to start. Images on these sites are licensed for specific uses and you’re in the clear as long as your usage falls within the agreement. But stock images, as you might have guessed, can get expensive. So we’re outlining a few resources where you can find quality images for free, along with tips on how you can use some of the more widely used sites to search for available images.

There are some great free stock photo sites out there—they just take a little extra digging to find an image that works for you. And you might have to get a little creative and look beyond the exact specifications of image you were initially looking for. Keep in mind that although most of the images on these sites are free from restrictions, you should always check to make sure that the image you want to use doesn’t require any additional attribution. And when in doubt, it’s probably best to find another image that doesn’t have any copyright restrictions.

Some of our favorite free stock photo sites:

  • Death to Stock—Every month this site emails out a free photo pack, sometimes following a theme or the work of one photographer. While it may take some extra effort to find what works for you, the images are worth the search! The license is available for review on their website.
  •—This site is easy to search, and new high-resolution images are added weekly. None of the images have copyright restrictions, and no attribution is required.
  • Unsplash—Also free from copyright restrictions, this site offers 10 new photos for use every 10 days. There is a search function available, along with collections to browse.
  • AllTheFreeStock—A comprehensive site that has resources not only for images, but videos, music and icons as well. The sites listed that offer free stock images are all available for use under the Creative Commons Zero license, but the other offerings have different types of licenses.

If you’re looking for something much more specific, like a particular city skyline, searching for an image via Creative Commons might be your best bet. Their engine will link you to different sites (Google and Flickr are some examples) that get the search started for you. You can make selections based on whether the image you need is for commercial use, and whether you plan to make modifications to the photo. The Creative Commons site also provides more general information on licenses and the public domain.

This guide just scratches the surface of what’s available with images on the web, but we’re hoping it gives you a good place to start your search!

Evolving LEED in Motion with Readymag

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Evolving LEED in Motion with Readymag

We’re always looking for new, dynamic and engaging ways to present information. So when we came across Readymag, we knew it was the ideal tool to help us evolve our signature LEED in Motion reports. Aside from it being awesome to look at and easy to navigate, it gave us the opportunity to expand beyond the printed page, allowing our reports to be more versatile and adaptable than ever before.

LIM Canada

LEED in Motion Canada

Readymag brings these reports to life, making them more interactive while also providing us with a greater opportunity to share new information about LEED projects and professionals. It combines the beauty of publishing with functional digital design, resulting in a beautiful interface that engages readers and allows the stories and information to shine. With an opportunity to link within the report, we can expand the reach even further, sharing the profiles of LEED professionals from our USGBC directory and other resources mentioned in the report. This makes for a LEED in Motion that extends beyond the printed page, allowing for an expanded view outside of what’s contained in the text.

Another bonus Readymag offers is the ability to showcase volumes, so when we have more information to share we can grow the report beyond just the first iteration. They’re also retina ready, making the stunning, high-resolution images of the featured LEED-certified buildings look almost as spectacular as they do in person. 

We’re excited to use Readymag for our LEED in Motion reports and beyond. Check out what we’ve created so far at