updated: June 20, 2016.This has been my post popular blog post so far, and it pleases me to no end that so many people have found it useful. I’ve updated some of the resources mentioned here and added some new ones. Enjoy and of course, let me know your feedback in the comments below.
So you’re working on your next blog post, or getting ready to do some Facebook ads for your next promotion – when you realize that you need some nice, shiny photos to go along with everything. Because, you know, pictures say a 1000 words, get more shares and all that good stuff.
Luckily, we live in an awesome information age where there are so many amazing resources online these days for stock photos – Buuuuutttt:
“Where do I even begin to find said awesome stock photos for my website/blog post/social media posts?”
“Which ones are the best resources, the best prices and won’t get me into trouble with the copyright police?”
Look no further my friend, for your search has ended. Below I’ve got quite a few FREE resources for you, and for each one I’ll indicate how to avoid getting into trouble ( aka getting sued and having to pay a fine for using someone else’s images.)
Keep reading to the end, and I’ll give some honorable mentions of awesome paid stock photo sites in additional tips about proper image usage.
Before we get started…some terms you need to be familiar with:
Stock Photo Urban Dictionary – You’ll thank me later:
Attribution – you need to give credit back to the original source. So if you use an image that requires attribution, provide a link back to the original site.
Commercial Use – anything that’s going to result in your business making money from using the images. Advertising, stationery, promotional items, etc.
Personal Use – personal projects that are not business related in any way or anything where there is financial gain
Creative Commons Zero – you can copy, modify and reuse the photos in any way, including commercial and personal use. No attribution required.
Public Domain – creative works that no longer have intellectual copyrights. The property rights have been expired, forfeited or don’t apply. Think Shakespeare and Beethoven.
Pixabay has been one of my favorite online stock photo resources for years. The images are stunning and there is a such a huge variety to choose from. A few tips with using Pixabay:
- You need to have an account to be able to download images. Sign up through Facebook, Google, Microsoft or good old fashioned email.
- You can also upload and share your own pictures.
- They’re sponsored by Shutterstock, if you’re looking for premium photos
Licensing: Pictures found here are public domain, which means they are royalty-free, copyright free and no attribution( link back to the original source) is required. You can use them in commercial projects.
Stock Photos For Free is sponsored by Graphicstock.com. After poking around here for a bit, I would say this site is great if you need more ‘generic’ stock photos, backgrounds or any type of special effects.
Licensing: Directly from their website – “There are never any fees to download our stock photos, and they come with a royalty free license so you can use them in all types of media, for worldwide distribution, forever! You can even use them in commercial projects—always free!”
This is another one of my favorite stock photography sites. They feature both modern and vintage stock photography to for download. Additional info:
- PDA offers new weekly downloads that are 100% Free.
- They offer a premium membership option – $10/month with no advertising, unlimited access to all their photos and you’re able to do bulk downloads. If you’re a heavy stock photo user, this might not be a bad option.
Licensing: Public Domain Archives has waived all copyrights to the images on their site, which means you are free to edit, modify the images in any way and re-use them for commercial purposes. No attribution required.
This fantastic resource is brought to us by the generosity of an Italian photographer, Daniel Nanescu. He felt there were too many restrictions with all the stock photography sites, and so he’s made his images available to the world, for free. More to know:
There is a premium option, with access to bulk downloads and even more photos for only $20/year!
Licensing: Copyright free. I couldn’t find a terms and conditions section on the site, but based on the info I read on his About Page, Daniel’s intent was to create a resource of images that were free, without restriction. Thanks, dude! Don’t you love it when people are so generous?
Another amazing, free stock photo resource. Drool at the gorgeous images, scroll to your hearts desire, click, download. Done.
If you subscribe to their newsletter, you’ll get 10 new images in your inbox every 10 days.
Licensing: Do whatever you want. Images here are under Creative Commons Zero, which means you are free to modify, use, reuse the photos in anyway for free without asking for permission. Attribution isn’t necessary but a link back to the photographer is always appreciated. Sounds like a win to me.
Just coming to their home page is an experience in itself, almost like walking into an art gallery…but I digress…. Seriously this website is amazing, it might be my new favorite. There are so.many.images to choose from. All you have to do is click on an image you love, and it’s yours to download. Nothing more, nothing less. Scroll to your hearts desire.
Good To Know: At least 10-20 images are uploaded daily to the site. You can subscribe by RSS feed to keep updated on images.
“Our Mission: To be your final “Boss Fight” when it comes to finding completely free (do whatever you want) stock images, photos, and photography.” – I love it.
So this site works a little differently than the ones I’ve mentioned here so far. You do get access to free photos, but with some restrictions:
- You’re not able to download pictures directly from the site
- You’ll need to join their email list to get monthly access to their photos.
- For $15/month you get total access to their library
Licensing!: These images are subject to the Photography End User Agreement. This means that the image are not copyright free, so you’re not able to “do whatever you want” with them. Some examples of what this means:
- You can use the image or make an adaptation of it, but you’re not able to redistribute the photo or give it to others.
- You can display or reproduce the images on physical or digital products, but you need to distribute the license with the adapted photo.
Death To The Stock Photo License agreement. I’ll admit, even though this is a “Plain English” License agreement, I still found it a little hard to follow.
Free photos for bloggers, startups, creatives and everyone else. Scroll, click and download to your heart’s desire.
Licensing: Pictures from this site can be copied, altered, reproduced and used for any all all purposes ( except illegal) without any attribution to the original source of the photo.
Literally an online coffee table album with various photos of travel moments around the world.
Licensing: Images are under the Creative Commons Zero License, which means you are free to download these photos and use them for anything and do whatever you want with them.
This free resource was created by Jeshu John – an Indian web designer and developer. Pretty much what it says on the home page – another Free resource to download Hi-Res photos for personal and commercial use without attribution. You can use them for any and all projects, the only restriction is that you’re not allowed to sell
This is a fairly recent stock photography site created by two photographers in Latvia. You can find free, high resolution stock photography to download.
Licensing: All images are under the Creative Commons Zero license – yours to use, distribute and reproduce for free, for both personal and commercial use, without attribution or credit back to the site or original photographer.
This is a free stock photography site for foodies and food lovers alike. A few things to note:
- If you’re a food photographer and want to get some exposure, you can submit your photos to the site
- In addition to the free photos, the site author does have premium photo packages and other digital goods available for sale on the site.
- They accept advertisers and sponsored articles
- If you subscribe to the email list you’ll get weekly images.
Licensing: The site author does not specifically say the pictures are licensed under Creative Commons zero, but he states in his terms that we are free to use the pictures for personal and commercial use. Attribution is not required, but a link back to the site is appreciated. You are not able to sell the photos or submit them to another stock photography site.
Free Royalty free nature stock photography created by Adrian Pelletier.
Licensing: Images are under the Creative Commons Zero License. You’re free to use them however you want.
Am I starting to sound like a broken record yet? Yes..more free stock photos to use on your website, blog, social media posts – anything you want. What’s different and kinda cool about Negative Space is that you can search by category, color and copy space, which is a new feature I haven’t seen before.
Licensing: Images on this site are under the Creative Commons Zero license. You are free to use, reuse, modify or distribute images. Personal and commercial use are okay without attribution.
Even more goodness. This site is basically a compilation of photos from other stock photography sites, some of which I may have mentioned here already in this blog post. So if you want to save some time, use Pexels to help you in your search. Good to know:
- Sign up for their email list and get 40 photos right away plus more photos in their bi-monthly newsletter
Licensing: Wanna take a guess? Yep – Creative Commons wins the day again. Free for personal and commercial use, no attribution required.
Brought to us by Karolina, a web designer from Poland, KaboomPics is a great place to get a wide variety of pictures for free. Categories include Abstract, Fashion, Food, Landscape, Architecture and People. Join their newsletter to get access to even more pictures.
Licensing: You can do almost anything with the pictures on the site, for personal or commercial use. Attribution is appreciate, so if you do use an image from this site, provide a link back to the website. See my example below:
The images on this site are just fun and funny. If your business allows for some creativity and fun, I highly recommend checking Gratisography out. Everything on the site was photographed by Ryan McGuire, who’s website is laughandpee.com – Dude, that’s just awesome.
Licensing: Images on Gratisography are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero license, which means they are copyright-free. Free for personal and commercial use, no attribution required but it’s appreciated.
High resolution photos, freely available to the public. Photos are added on a weekly basis, and the site is lovingly maintained by an advertising agency in Montreal, Canada.
No copyright restrictions. Images are for personal and commercial use, no attribution required. I couldn’t find any terms of service on their website, but Life of Pix provides a link to the Creative Commons Zero license
Free high- resolutions stock photos for personal and commercial use. If you join their email list, you’ll get emailed 10 new photographs every two weeks. The site is created and maintained by photographer Ed Gregory.
Licensing: The site specifically says the photos are for commercial use, not personal use. Attribution is not required but appreciated, and you cannot redistribute the photos. So basically if you’re a looking for a picture to use in a blog post, post a link back to the author.
Why this site is awesome: You can search 26 free- high resolution stock photo sites all through Stock Up. So if you really don’t have time to browse through a ton of sites to find that perfect image, think of Stock Up as your one-stop stock image shop. Pure Brilliance.
Another resource I wanted to add to the list -Thanks to Igor Ovsyannykov reaching out, sharing, another awesome resource and for giving back to the community.
The team at Canva (thanks Joyce!) reached out to me and asked if I could include their resource list in my blog post :).
If you haven’t heard of Canva, they are awesome. If you want to design your own images and graphics but don’t quite have the Photoshop skills up to par – no need to fear Canva is here. What is Canva? An easy-to-use drag-and-drop design program that is internet-based and FREE. While I’m biased to Photoshop myself, the DIYer in me loves Canva for it’s use and simplicity.
If you want even MORE stock photo sites than I have listed here, check out this epic post from the Canva team.
Bonus #2 – Honorable Mentions:
The reasons these sites didn’t make it in the main list is because the images are not free to download, and you do have to pay to get access to and use the stock photos. The good news is that you pay once and you can re-use the image to your heart’s desire. I’ve gotten some great images from these sites, and so if you are ready to step up your game and make an investment in stock photos, these sites are worth a mention:
Dollar Photo Club – This is a photo membership website with some amazing images and photography. You can pay either $10/month and download 10 high quality photos per month, or pay $99/year and have access to 99 high quality photos. Additional photos beyond those limits are $1 each. Currently closed to new members. Dollar photo club is no longer around, but if you’re looking for a similar monthly service you can go through Adobe Stock Photo.
Stocksy.com – what I love about these images is that they aren’t your generic stock pho- to images, but that they capture the very real and various emotions of people. The images are high-quality, royalty-free and exclusive to Stocksy. Individual photos range form $10-$100 de- pending on the quality of the photo that you want.
Creative Market – the abundance of creative genius on this website is on another level. Not only can you get access to some amazing stock photos, but they also offer graphics, fonts and pretty much anything your creative heart desires.
123rf.com – Royalty Free photos. You can purchase credits or have a monthly subscription plan to download photos.
FreeDigitalPhotos.net– Royalty-free photos. If you are looking for a lot generic stock pho- to images ( food, money, health, technology, metaphors) this is a great site to check out. You can get a low resolution image for free, but then you would need to pay individually for larger, hi-resolution images – starting at around $3.00.
Bonus #3 – How To Do A Google Image Safe Search
If you happen to be searching Google for images, here is the best way to do so without violating any image copyrights.
Step 1 – Do Your Image Search. I used pink rose in my example( I know, I know – can you tell I’m a bit obsessed with pink?)
Step 2 – Click on Search Tools>Usage Rights
Step 3 – Here you have some options as far as filtering your search. To be absolutely sure you pick an image that is copyright-free, choose ‘Labeled for noncommercial reuse with modification’ or ‘Labeled for noncommercial reuse.’
Step 4 – Your SafeSearch results!
So there you have it folks! A long-ass blog post about some awesome online resources to find free and amazing stock photos, with some bonus tips and resources.
Holler at me in the comments and tell me what you think. Any more sites I should add (or remove) from the list? Oh don’t forget to share this online – that would sure make me happy :).
Thanks for reading :)!