Digital photos. There are trillions of them out there. Yet finding good-quality, free images that we can use on our websites, social media, and print publications is somehow still difficult.
We all know about the big stock photo sites. But we also know that the rights to good photos don’t come cheaply. And if you’re lucky enough to stumble upon a decent image, you’ll likely see it cropping up everywhere.
So, we’ve put together a list of 25 of our favorite websites full of free stock photos to help you stand out with original, high-res images that don’t cost a cent.
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Karen McCandless | 05.2019
Born as one of Crew.co’s now-famous side projects, Unsplash is a collection of beautiful “do whatever you want” photos. What does that mean? Exactly what it says on the box. Download them, edit them, use them for commercial purposes… hell, you could wallpaper your kitchen with them for all they care. With over 250k photos to choose from and a thriving community keeping the site very much alive, Unsplash is a great first stop when looking for free stock photos.
The generosity of photographers is spreading like wildfire. Daniel Nanescu is largely feeding that fire. A man with not only a cool name but also a large collection of high-quality digital photographs—and all for free. Nanescu was keen not to let his photographs disappear “into oblivion,” so he created SplitShire.
Visual & UX designer, Daria, has put together a collection of photos that anyone can download and use in their projects. The images are pretty abstract, so make for great content backdrops. Everything is high quality and free.
There comes a time in every blogger’s life when all they really need is a picture of a man holding a phone, or a cute puppy on a bed. For those inevitable moments, there are sites like Picjumbo. A little less artsy than some of its free-pic website cousins, Picjumbo is full of royalty-free stock images that don’t require any type of attribution.
5. IM Free
From the creators of IM Creator, a sleek website building tool, IM Free is a curated collection of high-quality images broken down into different categories such as Business, Food & Drink, Health, and Technology. They even offer up free icon sets. Although they do ask for attribution, it’s a small cost for top-notch and completely free digital pics.
A sizeable, searchable, and very likeable library of free pics—that’s Morguefile for you. It’s got a bit of everything and is a great companion for any blogger. You’re free to use the images as you like, but need to attribute the photographer when you use them in their original form.
FreeImages lives up to its nominal promise—it’s full of free images. Attribution is sometimes required, depending on the image you want to use. However, this site is massive—they have almost 25k photos just in the Army & Weapons category. The images are bit more “stocky” than the other sites on this list, but depending on what you’re looking for, can definitely be worth a bookmark.
Ever rummaged around one of those boxes of old photos that people put out at yard sales? It’s a bit like going back in time without needing a flux capacitor. New Old Stock has loads of old, vintage photos that are free of known copyright restrictions. Even if you don’t need any pictures for your project, just browsing this site is a pleasure.
“Free high-resolution photos. Use them however you like.” So reads the text that sits in Picography’s website header. You can’t say fairer than that, right? It’s a simple collection of seemingly random photographs, all professionally taken. If you’re looking for something very specific, this might not be the site for you. However, if you’re after a bit of inspiration, it’s definitely worth a visit.
There’s no search feature on this site, but it’s got a pretty solid collection of good-looking free stock photos that you can use for pretty much anything. While the photo collection includes some stock-like photos, such as people holding mobile phones, it’s probably strongest contender for landscape and travel shots.
11. Jay Mantri
This is a collection of beautifully-shot photos of mostly landscapes and abstract objects which are all the work of one designer, Jay Mantri. The offer he proposes on his website? “Free pics. Do anything. Make magic.” Thanks Jay, sounds good.
Would you trust an artist with your website images? If so, give Dutch Artist Folkert Gorter’s website a go. He put together a stunning collection of photos, which look more like paintings, for you to use on your blog, website, social media, or anything else you can think of. What does he ask for in return? Just attribution. Sounds fair.
This website puts its pictures into three categories: modern images, vintage images, and weekly images. There’s no search feature, but the pictures are top quality and artistic in style. As the name suggests, all the images are in the public domain. This means you’re free to use them as you wish.
Gratisography, or Freeography for non-Spanish speakers, is a stunning collection of free pictures all taken by one man—Ryan McGuire. In his own words, McGuire isn’t a ninja. He is an artist though and he generously adds new images to his collection each week and lets the rest of us use them as we please.
It’s right there, proudly displayed at the top of their website: “Free from copyright restrictions.” Music to the ears of any marketer, blogger, or general maker-of-things wanting to add beautiful images to their projects without worrying about something as boring as copyright.
16. Negative Space
This is a nifty website to have in your toolbox. The photos on offer are colorful and ooze quality. They have a handy list of categories and a unique “copy space” filter. What’s that? Basically, you use the filter to specify in what position you want to add text to the photo (like an article headline) and it will return results that match your request. Pretty handy, right?
Pixabay is a large collection of free pics, illustrations, and even videos. The images are high quality easy to find. When using images from Pixabay, you don’t need to worry about any kind of attribution and you’re free to chop them up and use them as you please. We do recommend, however, not using any image for evil purposes—such as taking over the world.
This website offers a good mix of categories all stuffed full of good-looking photos. There’s no catch. Just find, download, and use as you wish. Simple.
19. Snapwire Snaps
The good folks at Snapwire, a platform for requesting custom photographs, offer 7 free pics every 7 days. The images are always high-quality, good-looking, and free for you to use as you like.
There’s a good mix of standard, high-quality stock-like photos and more abstract pics on this site. Some of their photos fall under their Premium plan, but there’s also a generous collection of free images on offer.
Time for another one of those generous photographers. This time it’s Jeffrey Betts, a talented photographer offering up his work to be used free from the constraints of copyright. What a guy.
22. Life of Pix
The description is simple, but Life of Pix is a collection of high-res, professionally-taken photographs. All pictures have one-click download and there are absolutely no copyright restrictions. If a list of static photographs isn’t enough to get you going, check out their sister site, Life of Vids—a collection of free-to-use videos.
There are some really good-looking photos to choose from here, from a variety of different categories (such as Abstract, City & Architecture, Fashion, etc.) Once again, everything is free for you to use pretty much as you like (not for reselling—though that should be a given).
If you haven’t heard of Shopify, and have therefore been in some kind of solitary confinement for the last 10 years, it’s a site for creating your own online store. Getting some of the side-project goodness, they’ve created Burst, a microsite with lots of quality product and lifestyle pictures—all for free.
New to the scene, but not to be neglected. Pikwizard has a huge collection of free stock photos, thousands of which are exclusive to their site. High-quality shots of all kinds to download, share, and even edit with their Design Wizard. Easily search by trending, recent, favorites, and more.
Got the pics you need? Here’s some advice on adding a photo to your website.