Posted 09.16.2014 by Josh Krakauer

Startup Stock Photos FAQ

Everything You Ever Wanted To Ask About Startup Stock Photos. Yes, you can use them on your blog.

What is Startup Stock Photos?

Startup Stock Photos is a website with a simple purpose:provide writers, developers, and entrepreneurs access to a library of beautiful, usable, and free “startup-focused” images. SSP is used by thousands of brands and bloggers all over the world, and all content is produced by our team.

Piqued your curiosity? Here’s everything we’ve ever been asked about our beloved side project.

Who are we?
Sculpt is an Iowa City-based social media marketing agency that helps entrepreneurial brands build community, convert customers, and tell powerful stories. We love startups, and hate bad stock photos. Which brings us to where we are today.

Who uses Startup Stock Photos?

From day one, our vision was to gain adoption from the most prominent blogs in the entrepreneurial and technology space. Originally, the site was largely used by friends and writers in the Midwest (thank you Welch Avenue, We Create Here, Silicon Prairie News). After an unexpected wave of traction in Japan, China and Europe, SSP found its way to a series of online design communities and took off across the world in August 2014.

Here’s a very, very small sample of links (updated 2015/2016 – there are many thousands):

Search Engine Journal
The Next Web
NY Times
The Chive
Information Week
The Stocks
All The Free Stock
Site Builder Repor
Elegant Themes
Designer News
Web Designer Depot
College Info Geek
CSS Author
PR Daily

Plus startups, agencies, developers and theme builders like, Theme Forest, Graphic River, Dribbble, Creative Market, and Youth Designer Templates

Who takes the pictures?
Largely, the images are shot by Eric Bailey. Eric is a NYC-based designer, developer, photographer, entrepreneur and craft beer taster. Some shots were done by videographer Ian Servin, and friend Zach Sanderson.

What inspired Startup Stock Photos?
The concept is inspired by Unsplash, an iconic platform we love and respect (they seem to respect us too). That, and every person that’s resorted to a pixelated, lifeless stock photo for their article or marketing site.

What constitutes a “startup stock photo”?
We get plenty of jabs for our focus on laptops, Apple products, coffee shops, whiteboards, and a lightly-filtered aesthetic. Of course, startup life is about more than brainstorming and remote working. But for the people who use us, we fill a need. If you have suggestions for different shots we’ll gladly take them.

What’s next?
Eric is currently working on an updated version of the website. Tumblr has been a fantastic medium for the site, but in the near future, we’ll be moving to a design that’s more robust and user-friendly. We hope to receive more outside requests and contributions. More on that below.

Where were the pictures taken?
Locations include the Thinc Lab, The Java House, Water Street Coffee Bar, Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, Iowa City CoLab, Gravitate and Eric’s desk. We’ve also shot pictures from the Sprint Accelerator Building in Kansas City and Kaneko in Omaha.

Where do we source the models?
If you’re integrated in the Creative Corridor startup community, these faces might look familiar. Friendrepreneurs (as we call them) like Nico Aguilar, Melanie Slattery, Sarah Binder, Ben Anderson all appear in pictures.


Where are all of the women?
We appreciate all of the comments about gender diversity, and are making it a point to be better representative of the entrepreneurial community.

Where do people find it?
Acquisition data in Google Analytics reveal a little bit about where people find Startup Stock Photos (numbers all 2014):

  • 74% refer from thousands of different websites that link to us
  • 17% come from direct visits
  • 2% come from social media referrals (Facebook and Twitter are the big two, of course)
  • 7% come from organic searches

When was the site established?
Startup Stock Photos was an idea born right before Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids; February 2014.

Why did we make it?
Because we love supporting startups. Because we hated the pictures writers licensed for their articles. Because we love bringing the Iowa startup community to the rest of the world.

How popular is the site?
It’s difficult to know how many times our content has been saved and re-published around the web. Startup Stock Photos is the #4 most viewed photographer on Pexels with more than 360 million views. We really only know what Google Analytics tells us about out own site. In 2015, was receiving about 70,000 unique visitors per month. Visitors have come from 200+ countries and all 50 states (Iowa is the 8th most popular).

How often do we update the site?
After 2016, not very often.

How is it funded?
Startup Stock Photos is 100% funded through Eric and Josh’s time and resources. It’s code named a super side project internally.

How can you contribute?
Attribution is not required, but if you would like to link back to Startup Stock Photos or Sculpt, we will hat tip to your content. If you would like to contribute content please send us a message on our contact form. If you would like to have us shoot your people, space, or event, let’s talk.

What else would you like to know about SSP? Shoot us a tweet and find out: @StartupPhotos

  • geoffwood

    This is everything I wanted to know about Startup Stock Photos! Thanks team for providing the images 🙂 Can’t wait for you to visit Gravitate and add to the site (hint, hint).

  • geoffwood we’re so there! Thinking an #IowaConf shoot is in order, eh?

  • geoffwood

    WeareSculpt oh yeah! See you there. 🙂

  • HoodScoop_io is another great resource….they upload 10 new photos every 10 days that are free to use any way you want… could submit to them your great pics also.

  • guymcguyington

    What is the Creative Commons licensing for SSP?

  • adgirl

    Hi! When it says that your photos are free “go. make something” – do we still need to credit the photos it we use them? Will a “photo: startup stock photos” be enought?

  • miccohen

    Interesting. Very similar to

  • adgirl That’s fine with us! No credit necessary, although we’d certainly appreciate the link or shoutout. Use as you please. 🙂

  • guymcguyington CC 4.0. Learn more here:

  • HoodScoop_io We love Unsplash. Thanks for your comment.

  • miccohen Cool site! Slightly different model and content, but great stuff inside. Thanks for sharing.

  • sfernandez

    Hey there! I’ve taken a look at SSP and I’m a little confused as to what are the exact licencing terms. My team wants to use a couple photos for an interactive project but we’re not in a position to provide attribution. I’ve read on this blog that you guys are okay with not giving credit. But on the CC 4.0 link it says that we’re free to use the photos under the following conditions:

    “Attribution—You must give, provide a link to the license, and You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.”

    So I’m a little confused on what specifically to follow? The CC 4.0 clearly states I must give appropriate credit but it sounds like you guys are personally okay with people not crediting. With that, the CC 4.0 website seems to contradict what you guys are saying in terms of providing credit. Can you guys give a little bit more clarity on this?

  • Artalic

    Amazing site. Thanks for the images here. I have already ‘made something’ with some of the images here to create a portfolio booklet. You can view it here:

    I have also credited Startup Stock Photos.

  • Do you have model and property release for the photos?

  • barnabasnagy To be honest, we don’t have model releases. Just verbal permission signed with a handshake (all of the models are our friends and coworkers). Hope that provides some comfort!

Josh Krakauer

Josh Krakauer is the CEO of Sculpt, that social media agency you just discovered. He uses words and pictures to make people smile, laugh, think, and buy.

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