You would think asking the Internet where to find user persona images would be a relatively simple exercise and it is, sort of. But for the sake of expediency, let me point you in the right direction for images and then we can debate whether or not you should even be using images for user personas in product management.
The sites I am going to send you to are refered to as “stock image” websites that contain photos that you can download for your personal or commercial use.
They may come free, or you may have to pay a license fee to the stock image website and the photographer.
Free User Persona Images
Sites that offer free (licensed for the public domain) user persona images include:
Unsplash – Portraits Search
Pexels – Portrait Search
Flickr – Public domain portraits search filter
Pixabay – Portraits search
Free stock photography sites have varying rights and permissions. Some, like Unsplash are completely no-strings-attached, as they are Creative Commons Zero (CC0 license) or No Rights Reserved.
Always read the fine print on the other stock photography sites to ensure the photo is safe for you to use in the planned capacity.
Paid User Persona Images
Sites where you exchange money for pictures ;). Paying a license fee gives you the right to use the photo for personal or commercial use (within the accepted terms), while the artists retain the copyright of their work.
Typically have a wider selection of imagery than the free sites. Some of the sites you should look at are:
Deposit Photos: A royalty-free stock photo site that lets you download stock photos, vectors and videos.
123RF: A budget stock photography website with photos, vectors and video clips. They offer a few free downloads, but most of their media is subscription-based. You can buy on-demand credits or subscribe to a plan.
Canva Pro: A popular drag-and-drop image editing tool that gives you access to a huge library of images, illustrations, icons, templates, animations, and more. The best part is that you can make unlimited downloads at no extra cost. You can try Canva Pro free for a month. Afterwards, it costs $9.95 a month when paid annually or $12.95 when paid monthly.
Stock Unlimited: Lets you search and download high-quality photos, vectors, clipart, and more. This is an excellent option if you need unlimited photos and videos for your projects over the year, not just for user persona images.
Shutterstock: one of the first companies to offer public domain photo subscriptions, and offer one of the largest collections of royalty free images. A free trial lets you download up to 10 free images for a month.
Getty Images: gives you an extensive collection of photos, vectors, illustrations, videos, and music that cover creative, editorial, current, and vintage photos from their archive content. They also own the stock image sites iStock (previously iStockphoto) and ThinkStock.
- Use Sketch don’t need specific ethnographic details, try the “Content Generator” pluging that has from random persona photos to fake content like addresses or phone numbers.
- Use persona images of people who do not exist.
- Need a quick random user image? Try Random User Generator.
The User Persona Image Debate
There are some within the product management field that feel photos are a terrible idea for personas as they depicts things like age, race, gender, drawing on preconceived notions and bias, past relationships and experiences.
The offered solution is to use persona images that show groups of people with intent/actions consistent with the context of the scenario, which isn’t a bad way to approach the situation.