The Most Effective People Stock Photos

Stock photos of people are, quite literally, photographs that portray people, in every aspect of their lives, in all their wide diversity, and all ranges of emotions. 

Known in the stock media industry as lifestyle photography, images of people are the most evergreen, best-selling category of them all. And with good reason, as they are the most relatable kind of photos of them all and are used across everything and everywhere. 

Today we are going to talk about what are the most engaging people's images right now, and where to find them.

The Unparalleled Value in People Images

So, why are people's photos so well-performing? The answer can be complex, but it essentially comes down to basic human psychology: we respond and relate better to images of our kind than to any other type of picture. 

Photos of people connect with audiences in a way no other can. Especially when it comes to portraying emotions, which can effectively invoke a psychological response in viewers. 

People images can be used in everything and anything, but they are exceptionally valuable for marketing, for the reason we just explained. Psychology-based marketing is part of every successful business strategy, and it cannot be done without photos of people. 

These images are particularly great to use in social media visuals, as they feel native to these platforms, where people share personal snaps and expect to see images of others. 

The Most Engaging Photos of People 

Trends in lifestyle images change a lot over time, as they evolve along with society. These are the best-performing photos of people right now: 

Authentic People

photocase photo id 3859964 square > The Most Effective People Stock Photos
Copyright: AddictiveStock/, all rights reserved

We can’t emphasize enough just how important it is to choose images that look authentic. From the subjects to the settings to the poses, everything has to appear realistic and as little staged as possible. 

Speaking of subjects, authenticity in 2021 is also about identity. Human diversity needs to be portrayed in an honest way, from ethnicity to gender to lifestyle choices. 

A beautiful woman’s selfie, an African American young man strolling down the street, a Native American senior lady going about her business. They are all good choices for people photos. 

People in the New Normal

photocase photo id 3874191 square > The Most Effective People Stock Photos
Copyright: davidpereiras/, all rights reserved

Ever since the Coronavirus pandemic and its worldwide effects on social life, people images have been reflecting the changes. Last year it was all about being locked in, staying home, away from everyone. Right now, it’s about adapting to the new normal in daily life. 

Wearing masks, keeping social distance, even the realities of health care workers and others that deal with the disease on a daily, are all very sought-after concepts. 

Groups of People

photocase photo id 3971662 square > The Most Effective People Stock Photos
Copyright: criene/, all rights reserved

We are social species by nature, so it’s no surprise some of the best performing people photos are those that depict more than one person interacting with one another: spending family time with the children, being romantic as a couple, being friendly in a student’s setting, etc. And don’t forget, showcase diversity and inclusion.

People Talking 

photocase photo id 3711823 square > The Most Effective People Stock Photos
Copyright: Mego-studio/, all rights reserved

Speaking of social life, our main way of communication and interaction is by talking, so images that show people talking are especially valuable. And again, it applies to all kinds of scenarios. A business meeting, for example, be it a bunch of youngsters brainstorming about their new startup, or formal business people discussing the latest data of the quarter. If people are talking in photos, the message comes across to the audience. 

Happy People

photocase photo id 105105 square > The Most Effective People Stock Photos
Copyright: frau.L./, all rights reserved

We covered subjects, concepts, and actions. It’s the turn of emotions. Human beings have a wide range of them, and many are possible to express through body language and facial gestures, that’s why they can be conveyed so well in photography. 

You can choose any emotion to communicate visually, from fear to anger to curiosity and beyond. But, by a long shot, nothing works better and gives more results than happiness. 

Happy people sell, engage, convert. When in doubt, go for photos where people are smiling, laughing, and overall look content. 

The Best Agencies with People Images

We have a list of our favorite stock photo sites to find crispy fresh, high quality, and royalty-free photos of people, where you can download great images at affordable prices. 

Warning! While we know some good free photo sites such as Unsplash or Pixabay have great people photos, we strongly advise against using free images of people in commercial-oriented designs –like anything for marketing–. Free images aren’t always properly vetted for said use, and misusing someone’s likeness can get you in a lot of legal trouble. Why risk it, when you have super cheap and professional images at your fingertips? homepage


Photocase is the image bank where you find unexpected, fun-loving photos of people from all backgrounds and all styles. 

Learn more in the Photocase review, and don’t miss the Photocase coupon with bonus downloads and extra savings! homepage

Stock Photo Secrets

The Stock Photo Secrets Shop offers lots of people pictures in high resolution, with very affordable pricing, perfect for small businesses. 

Discover it in the Stock Photo Secrets Shop review, and check out the cool 99Club deal! homepage


Shutterstock is famous for having over 230 million images in its catalog, so just imagine how many millions of people photos you can find here. Anything you want, they have it. 

Find out more in the Shutterstock review. Test it out with the Shutterstock free trial, and once you’re ready use the Shutterstock coupon to save money! homepage


iStock provides both budget-friendly images and high-end, exclusive photos, all in one place. So you are certain to find the perfect people photos for your project in their collections. 

Check out the iStock review for more info, and make sure to take advantage of the iStock promo to save in your stock images! homepage

Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock is all about the latest and trendiest photos for creatives. They have the ultimate photos with people themes, in professional quality, and ready to download. 

More details are in the Adobe Stock review, and you can try them out for free with the Adobe Stock free trial

Ready to make the best out of photos of people for your marketing campaigns? We’ll love to see what you do!


Ivanna Attié
Ivanna Attié

I am Content Manager, Researcher, and Author in and Stock Photo Press and its many stock media-oriented publications. I am a passionate communicator with a love for visual imagery and an inexhaustible thirst for knowledge. Lucky enough to enter the wonderful world of stock photography working side-by-side with experienced experts, I am happy to share my research, insights, and advice about image licensing, stock photography offers, and the stock media industry with everyone in the creative community. My background is in Communication and Journalism, and I also love literature and performing arts.

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