A picture is worth a thousand words. This phrase may be a cliché, but everyone would have all realized the power of Images for themselves. A critical part of writing about architecture case studies, or research across the domains of people, space, and time, is supporting the writing with relevant Images, drawings, or pictures. The right Image enhances the written word, breaks the monotony of too much content, and helps the user visualize and contextualize what a writer cannot do only with words. Finding superior quality relevant Images is however, a daunting and cumbersome task. Searching for images is especially challenging when one needs images for specific subjects, themes, concepts, or places. There are different websites from which we can source these high-quality Images and use them appropriately to enhance our articles. While some websites require payments and are licensable, others offer free downloads. While selecting a website for downloading stock images, one needs to consider the range of Images it provides across various categories, the quality and cost of Images, and licensing issues. 

Let us check out a few popular options of platforms for downloading stock Images.

Adobe Stock | Download Stock Images

Adobe Stock is a platform for high-quality stock Images across various domains. It is a paid website where a user needs to pay for the Images they download, but if one registers and creates an account, it allows them to download up to ten free Images.

Some excellent categories for designers to explore include buildings and architecture, landscapes, culture, and lifestyle. Adobe Stock includes a wide range of stock photos, impressive graphics, HD videos, and photoshop templates. One can use them directly to enhance their articles or stories. There is also an option of selecting different types of backgrounds, transparent backgrounds, or backgrounds with themes, such as festivals.

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Adobe Stock website interface_©stock.adobe.com/in/search/free?filters%5Bcontent_type%3Aphoto%5D=1&filters%5Bfree_collection%5D=1&filters%5Bcontent_type%3Aimage%5D=1&order=relevance&safe_search=1&limit=100&search_page=1&search_type=recentsearch&acp=1&aco=arch&k=architecture&is_recent_search=1&get_facets=1


Unsplash is another excellent source for downloading free high-resolution Images. It sends ten free Images through email according to areas of interest selected by users every ten days to users who subscribe to the website. Users can also search through the Image bank using different search criteria. Unsplash images are covered under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license that allows users to use the images with or without modifications for personal or commercial use without necessarily crediting Unsplash or the photographer (although sharing credits is highly recommended).

Unsplash contains a wide range of images within the categories of architecture, interiors, and materials. In addition to photos, one can also download 3D renders from the website. Unsplash has a broad range of Images within each sub-category. For example, if one need Images for a case study or reference, they can find multiple images based on different angles and scales.

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Unsplash website interface_©unsplash.com/

Pixabay | Download Stock Images

Pixabay has over 420,000 stock images available for free download. The main advantage of this site is that one can use the assets for public and private use without worrying about licensing. The Pixabay library contains photos, vectors, illustrations, videos, music, and sound effects. It also includes a section called the Editor’s choice, which has specially curated Images. 

One issue with the website is that the user interface does not efficiently categorize images into different sections and searching for Images merely through keywords can get confusing. While searching for Images, one can use criteria such as size, orientation, color, and date of publication.

While searching for images of specific architectural works, a user will probably find photos of generic buildings. They may be convenient when authoring generic articles for different types of audiences, but they can be a limitation when one needs specific images.

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Images from Pixabay_©https://pixabay.com/photos/search/architecture/?manual_search=1
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Images from Pixabay_©https://pixabay.com/photos/search/architecture/?manual_search=1
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Images from Pixabay_©https://pixabay.com/photos/search/architecture/?manual_search=1


Shutterstock is a convenient source of high-resolution images for case studies. 

It has a broad range of images for architecture. These include buildings, monuments, Images of heritage sites, and more. Images found on this website can be used for payment and are licensable. Users can sometimes download Shutterstock images for free. However, the images come with the license watermark of the website, so due credit is visible, when images are reused on personal or public forums.

The range of royalty-free assets available on Shutterstock includes photos, vectors, illustrations, animations, and videos. The advantage of Shutterstock is that it has multiple pricing options, such as free trials and different packages according to the number of images, and follows simple licensing rules.

Shutterstock website interface_©https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/taj-majal-sunrise-agra-india-1408456052

Alamy | Download Stock Images

Like Adobe Stock and Shutterstock, Alamy is another extensive database for high-resolution stock images. 

It contains photos, vectors, illustrations, videos, live news, and social media. Users can sort Images by size, orientation, viewpoint, and style. They can also specify the number of people seen in Images and specifications related to people in the Images.

Alamy hosts a wide range of images related to architecture and design. An issue with Alamy is that users need to manually search for images using an overall search bar before they can add filters for specific image attributes.

Image 7_Alamy website interface_©https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo/architecture.html?imgt=1


Although there are very convenient and good resources available through Stock image repositories, one needs to be mindful of some guidelines while using images from any Internet source:

  • Avoid violation of copyright or licensing regulations in all cases. It is easy for copyright violations to be detected, and the accompanying legal hassles and repercussions on our credibility can be very damaging.
  • Besides the threat of legal action, it is not ethical to use images without due permission and credit. Someone would have worked hard to capture and share the Images one is using, and it is fair to share credit, even if it is not legally necessary.
  • Images and videos may spread malware so use them only from credible websites.
  • Ensure that the images do not hurt religious, cultural, gender-based, or sensitivities of any other kind.
  • Ensure that images do not infringe on privacy and security.

The list shared here is indicative and not comprehensive. Many options keep getting added regularly as the Internet is a very dynamic medium. Google Images and Creative Commons are examples of popular, large, growing databases of images. The Internet is a wonderful platform for sharing resources and collaborating to create more valuable resources. 


Free architecture images – browse 40,910 free stock photos, vectors, and video. Adobe Stock. (n.d.). Retrieved October 15, 2022, from https://stock.adobe.com/in/search/free?filters%5Bcontent_type%3Aphoto%5D=1&filters%5Bfree_collection%5D=1&filters%5Bcontent_type%3Aimage%5D=1&order=relevance&safe_search=1&limit=100&search_page=1&search_type=recentsearch&acp=1&aco=arch&k=architecture&is_recent_search=1&get_facets=1 

Unsplash. (n.d.). Beautiful free images & pictures. Unsplash. Retrieved October 15, 2022, from https://unsplash.com/ 

100,000+ free architecture & city images – pixabay. (n.d.). Retrieved October 15, 2022, from https://pixabay.com/images/search/architecture/ 

Taj Mahal Sunrise agra india stock photo 1408456052. Shutterstock. (n.d.). Retrieved October 15, 2022, from https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/taj-majal-sunrise-agra-india-1408456052 

Architecture hi-res stock photography and images. Alamy. (n.d.). Retrieved October 15, 2022, from https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo/architecture.html?imgt=1 


Nikita is a final year student of interior architecture at Cept University. She’s passionate about sustainable materials and their use in making spaces that are sensitive to the user as well as the planet. Along with her design studies, she also enjoys writing about architecture, culture and vernacular building traditions.