Shopify launches free stock images site to beautify merchants' stores

Coffee, laptops, yoga mats, and puppies primarily populate the new database
burst screengrab
A sample of the Burst stock photo database.

Shopify is ostensibly an ecommerce platform provider, but that hasn’t stopped it from holding classes at its Ottawa headquarters or offering a business name generator, and it isn’t stopping the company from hosting its own free stock image database for, well, any use at all.

Burst provides free stock photos for entrepreneurs, designers, developers, bloggers, and anyone else who needs them. Browsing through the site’s image collections of “coffee,” “laptop,” or “dog,” you’ll find most photos match an aesthetic common to lifestyle blogs, slidedecks and, Shopify believes, online stores.

"We built Burst to help entrepreneurs make better websites and marketing campaigns. We noticed that stock photography for entrepreneurs was limited, and wanted to offer hundreds of photos for our merchants and other business owners to access, for free," says Lindsay Craig, growth marketer at Shopify, in an email.

The site is a product of Shopify Garage, the company's experimental product team. Burst is still in its soft launch phase, with approximately 1,000 photos, but the company says it will be growing the database in the coming months.

Perhaps the biggest selling point is the freedom with which the images can be used. All photos on the site are listed under Creative Commons Zero, which means they can be taken, manipulated, reposted  seriously, anything you can imagine  without paying a dime or crediting a source. All photos have links to the original photographer, however, giving you the chance to give a nod for your sweet new website header.

The site also comes with “business ideas” collections, meant to inspire merchants to offer products such as enamel pins, bracelets, or LED sneakers. 

“These collections are meant to be a starting point for a new business; we encourage you to add more products and take your own photos as you grow your online brand,” the site reads. Collection pages feature a collection of images to get started, as well as model business plans for how to source, market and sell Bluetooth speakers online, for example.

It's good news for everyone except 500 Startups' David Dufresne, who expressed his distaste for stock images in slidedecks at an Invest Ottawa talk a couple of weeks ago. Sorry, David.

Pug with bowtie
A pug with a bowtie. Yours, via Burst. Photo by Matthew Henry.