A picture says a thousand words. Strong branding is all about your image. The image of your business. Not a single image (or logo) but the overall look, feel, message that your business exudes. If you’re a high end business with cheap looking images you’ll be perceived in the market as miss-match and you’re confused customers will walk away!
Photography has always been an integral part of design. Unfortunately, we’ve grown accustomed to seeing crappy stock images of people in suits shaking hands. Not only are a lot of these stock photos tacky, but some of them cost money (ans some aren’t cheap)!
Thankfully, there’s been a growing number of websites with beautiful stock photography popping up all over the web. Best of all, they’re free.
In this post, I’ve curated a list of 20 awesome websites for free stock photos so you’ll no longer have a reason to include the same old boring stock image as others in your industry.
Many of these photographs are free from copyright restrictions or licensed under creative commons public domain dedication. This means you can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.
However, some photos may require attribution. I’ve done my best to identify which license they fall under but we still advise you to do your own research and determine how these images can be used.
With that out of the way, let’s dive into our top picks for free stock photos.
Need pictures for your website, blog or marketing but don’t want to pay? Here is my top 20 list of totally free image sites.
Website address: www.canva.com
Free graphics & photos to create your own blog pics, Facebook cover pic, facebook ads and more! There are templates to choose from, simply click on the type of image you’d like to create and save them to your computer. They will save to the perfect size. You can also use custom dimensions (I created the pic above in Canva). You’ll need to register or sign in with your Facebook account. This is a great resource for those who have an online store and want to create images at a set size or shape for consistency across your website.
Website address: pixabay.com
Free photos & images (also includes free vectors). Pixabay.com is an international community for sharing quality public domain images. As of August 2014, Pixabay offered around 240.000 free photos and vector graphics, contributed by photographers and illustrators of its community.
Website Address: www.hdstockphoto.com/photos.html
Free high quality photos. You will need to ‘like’ HD Stock Photo on Facebook or other social platform to grant download access. HD Stock Photos provides access to download 2,423,042 free photographs.
Website address: www.everystockphoto.com
Free photos & images, Every Stock Photo searches other sites for free images, (you may need to register before downloading depending on the pic you choose) Every Stock Photo are a search engine for free photos. These come from many sources and are license-specific. You can view a photo’s license by clicking on the license icon, below and left of photos. Membership is free and allows you to download, rate, tag, collect and comment on photos.
Website address: www.pexels.com
Free High Quality Pictures. Pexels call themselves the ‘best free stock photos in one place’. There are 5 new high-quality photos added daily.
Website address: www.stocksnap.io
Free photos & images – Stock Snap describe themselves as the highest quality, highest resolution pictures and add them to their database on a daily basis. This is not your typical crappy stock photo site.
All photos uploaded to the site are released under Creative Commons – CC0 and do not require attribution. No more hassle trying to figure out whether you can use photos for commercial use and whether you need to provide attribution.
Website address: www.rgbstock.com
Free photos & images (you must register before downloading). Rgbstock.com offers over 100000 totally free stock photos for download. Are you looking for fabulous free stock images? Then look no further! ! RGBStock has a huge number of high quality free stock photos and dazzling free graphics for illustrations, wallpapers and backgrounds. Need a free picture for your commercial website? Want an image for your blog? Looking for ideas? Check out the RGBStock galleries packed with high quality stock photos and find what you are searching for!
Website address: www.stockvault.net
Free photos & images (avoid the top row(s) unless you want to pay for a shutterstock photo), Stockvault.net is a stock photo sharing website where photographers, designers and students can share their photographs, graphics and image files with each other for free. It contains 52,000 free images. Stockvault’s sole purpose is to collect and archive medium and high resolution photographs that designers and students can share and use for their personal and non-commercial design work.
Website Address: www.freeimages.com
Free photos & images (avoid the top row unless you want to pay, you will also need to signup or register to use the site). Freeimages was launched in February 2001 as an alternative for expensive stock photography. The idea was to create a site where creative people could exchange their photos for inspiration or work. The site has evolved into the massive community you see today — there are over 2,500,000 registered users and around 400,000 photos online.
Website address: www.freerangestock.com
Free photos & images (avoid the top row unless you want to pay, you will also need to signup or register to use the site). Freerange Stock was formed with the goal to provide quality stock photos for commercial and non-commercial use. For free. Their philosophy is that free stock photos can be good photos. Freerange is an advertising revenue supported photographic community.
Website address: www.freedigitalphotos.net
Free photos & images (you’ll have the ability to download web sized images once registering, but will have to pay for photos that are a printable size). FreeDigitalPhotos.net offer you a unique way to download photos and illustrations. ALL the images on the website are available free of charge, for business, personal, charitable or educational use. These free images are small sized, but perfect for websites or draft printed work. If you need a larger sized version then they are all available to buy.
Website address: www.splitshire.com
Free photos & images (select a category from the menu, this one is not by any means the best of the bunch in my opinion, but useful none the less) the contributor Daniel Nanescu’s note is: free stock photos for personal & commercial use. as a Web Designer and Photographer, he says “Do what you want with them, for personal and commercial use. Yes, everything free of charge, if you like my work offer me a coffee through donation to help me maintain this project.”
Website address: www.morguefile.com/archive
Free photos & images. The morguefile was created by Michael Connors as a college student in 1996. It is currently a collaborative effort between brothers Kevin Connors and Michael Connors, with Johannes Seemann. The morguefile contains photographs freely contributed by many artists to be used in creative projects by visitors to the site. To acknowledge the artist’s accomplishments, they do ask that you credit the photographer when possible.
There is no ‘search’ field or categories on the following sites, they are photo collections:
Website address: www.startupstockphotos.com
Free photos & images (great variety of assorted images) These are business type, day to day photos of the office and after work activities.
Website address: www.unsplash.com/grid
Free photos & images (great variety of assorted images) Unsplash offer high resolution beautiful scenery photography with some quirky, arty shots thrown in the mix.
Website address: www.gratisography.com
Free photos & images (great variety of assorted images) a true assortment of eclectic photography. These are some seriously super quirky, fun images!
Website address: www.littlevisuals.co
Free photos & images (great variety of assorted images) texture and landscape photography you can sign up to Little Visuals to receive 7 hi-res images zipped up in your inbox every 7 days to use in any way you want to.
Website address: www.nos.twnsnd.co
Free photos & images (vintage photography) Vintage photos from the public archives, free of known copyright restrictions.
Website address: www.superfamous.com
Free photos & images (scenery and textures, great for backgrounds with a meaningful quote overlay). Superfamous is the Los Angeles-based studio of Dutch interaction designer Folkert Gorter. As an online publisher of large collections of literary and visual content, he is an avid promotor of people’s creative contributions. Folkert’s design work can be viewed here and his photography is available for download and use under the conditions of a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. This means that you can use the work for your own purposes — including commercial use — as long as credit is provided.
Website address: www.dreamstime.com
Free photographs. Dreamstime offer a selection of free photographs. Like Super Famous Studios they also request you to acknowledge the photographer (with a line of text to credit the photographer to be written above or on the photo). However if you’re happy to do this and adhere to their terms you’re welcome to use the photographs for your own purposes. You will be required to sign up before downloading the free images. This will include editing your profile to include your address details. There are also a selection of images on the Dreamstime website that require payment, so just choose the option and photographs that best suits your needs.
I should also mention that these are in no way rated in order from 1-20, simply a collection of free photo resources.
If you know of any more free photography sites worth sharing please share it in the comments below.
Please make sure you read and adhere to each individual websites T&C’s.