12 Amazing Sources for Free Stock Images and Photography
Finding a great image to use in a blog post or a graphic design project used to be a hassle -- and expensive. There was very little inventory available aside from shutterstock back in the day, and the price you would have to pay per image was high. Now, the pay sites have dropped their prices significantly because there is an incredible amount of stock images and photography that you can use for free.
In fact, there are so many free stock image sites now that it has become a bit overwhelming.
While the images on these free stock photography resources are provided without copyright restrictions or licensed under creative commons (CC0 1.0), allowing you to copy, modify, distribute, even for commercial purposes, without asking permission, it's still a good idea to look into each website's terms, as some do require at least attribution.
Alright, let’s get into the top sources for free stock photos.
"I love the Kaboompics photo library, as it is updated on a regular basis and provides you with amazing, natural photos in high resolution, for free. We've been using it for a few months now in various blog posts, round-up articles and social media content, and it always gives us that 'wow" effect.' -- Kinga Odziemek, Brainy Bees
"I prefer Pixabay for free stock images because it has a lot of quality content and the images are easy to download and implement. The site's fast and effective image search allows me to easily find relevant images. Its accessibility and broad catalogue are great for both casual bloggers and professional digital marketers. Pixabay is the first place I look for stock images when I need something that is free." -- Matt Benevento, Geek Powered Studios
"I like it because it not only offers free (public domain) images, but it also offers a wide-range of royalty-free stock images at reasonable prices in a number of formats. Often times, I have found the perfect photo with the right color and props at a very affordable price.
Dreamstime states that it has more than 46,000,000 images. One image will range from 1 credit up to 19 credits. You can buy a minimum of eleven credits for $14.99 and use them within the year in which you purchased them. The more credits you buy at a time, the cheaper they become. Illustrations, photos, icons, stock video and audio are all available at Dreamstime.
As a website designer, it is often necessary to purchase stock images for clients. In my design business, we have a professional photographer that takes photographs for our clients, but this isn't always enough. Often we need a few additional images that it would be cost-prohibited to pay the photographer to shoot. A perfect example is a website we recently launched for an author. Our photographer did a fantastic job on her portraits, and they were included on the website, but it was necessary to find a few additional images for the site using Dreamstime. Luckily, we found all we needed in the free public domain section of the site." -- Amelia Painter, Amelia Painter Press
"Freepik.com is my go-to source for free pictures and media when designing a website for a client. There’s also the ability to filter Google images by 'labeled for reuse' that is a solid option." -- Katelyn Berkshire, Dog Ear Marketing
5. ISO Republic
"When it comes to choosing the best free resource for stock images I always find myself going to ISO Republic. This one has a lot of simple images which I find can be much more effective when it comes to adding depth to content and web pages." -- Beth Kearsley, Tao Digital Marketing
"Canva is a great resource for free stock images and graphics. We use Canva for many internal documents -- presentations, white papers, even social media -- as well as for images in blog posts on our website. There is a lot of flexibility, especially in the graphics, for making updates to colors to keep the result in your brand's colors." -- Allison Schmidt, Get Online NOLA
"Unsplash is a great resource for free stock images, because it has over 850,000 photos and its libraries are well-organized and easy to search. At our digital marketing agency, we use photos from Unsplash on social media, blogs and websites, both for ourselves and our clients. I especially appreciate the related photos and related collections features, which can help you find similar photos to ones you already like." -- Lauren Walter, Online Optimism
8. Morgue File
"This is a little known one that has some unique stock images that can be used royalty-free as well." -- Will G. Manuel III, Core Mobile Apps
"We use this all the time, specifically in the mockups we create for our client websites. It's a great resource for free stock photos that are of good quality and resolution. The photos can help paint a picture of the overall messaging our clients want their website to represent for their potential leads. This helps our clients to picture what the website will look like once live and help them to begin thinking about the interaction between their potential leads and the messaging we're presenting through the site." -- Julia D'agostino, reCreative
"Burst by Shopify is a great resource for businesses large and small. While they do not have the same quantity of images as some of the other free stock photo libraries, they make up for it in exceptional quality. Burst’s photo collections are very well curated. This is because they actually screen photographers before they can contribute photos. You can see the submission guidelines for applying photographers here.
Sometimes in the free photo libraries you have to sort through a lot of 'okay' photos to find the right one. This is not the case with Burst. It’s backed by Shopify so they work hard to keep the needs of business owners in mind. So, if you want to get high quality photos without spending a lot of time searching, I recommend Burst. They have a variety of different categories and keywords that can suit any business or blog." -- Joshua Sosso, Modii
"This is an imagine library that has been around for quite some time and we use it primarily to source background images for social media campaigns, both paid and organic.
Often times you need a random setting, whether it's a beach sunset or a social environment, and we can usually find something that we can use as a base and then edit it internally. After using it for a few years it's just become the go-to option I always check first." -- Christoper Jones, Sexy Smile Kit
12. (Bonus: Paid Option) Deposit Photos
"If you don't mind paying for high quality images, Deposit Photos has a large library of royalty-free images including photos and vectors. The plans are decently priced. When searching for an image, you have an option to select the size to download and it shows related images if the images that appear in the search results aren’t quite what you’re looking for. Sure, there are some images that look tacky, but all the images are clear and high resolution.
We use Deposit Photos images primarily to go along with blog posts we write for clients. Sometimes we’ll use Deposit Photo images for webpage images. A thing to note is to pay attention to what plan you have and how many users you have. We have 2-3 users and only have the ability to download 10 images per day between three users. If you have more users and write a lot of content, go for their bigger plans." -- Sarah Snider, SEO.com