Nothing goes better with freshly created content than high-quality visuals that complement your content, provide illustrative examples to points you are making, or just make your post look pretty! This type of image and video content is typically called stock photography/videography. Much of this type of media is sourced from regular people who have professional photos and capture random imagery, which they license to major imager library holders, like Getty Images and Adobe Stock who have their own customers with pricey subscriptions to use those images in blogs or other content they create.
If you’ve Googled around, you’ve probably noticed there are literally thousands of places to find stock images, but most of these sites require spendy subscriptions and monthly credits to “acquire” images for use on your own website. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the top 10 free places to find awesome stock photography, plus 2 bonus sites that are totally worth the price!
Let’s cover a few things related to licensing before we begin. The terminology below will come up in your searches, so it’s best we cover what they mean now so you aren’t accused of improperly using an image.
Who is Creative Commons? What do they do?
Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that helps overcome legal obstacles to sharing knowledge and creativity to address the world’s pressing challenges. Creative Commons facilitates this through a number of ways, but most famously via the Creative Commons Licenses which gives everyone from individual creators to large institutions a standardized way to grant the public permission to use their creative work under copyright law.
What is “Public Domain”?
The term “public domain” when applied to media from creators who have previously licensed their content means the copyrights to the “work” have expired, forfeited, or are no longer applicable. This means you can use it as you want, but just finding something on the internet does not mean it’s in the public domain.
What does “royalty free” mean?
Royalty-free images are not necessarily free from monetary cost. Instead, you’ll usually have to pay a one-time fee to obtain the right to use the image as you wish. The “free” in “royalty-free” means that you don’t have to pay royalties to the owner of the image every time you use it. For a more in-depth breakdown of this, check out this excellent blog post from Amos at Stock Photo Guides.
ChemiCloud’s Top 18 Sites for Free Stock Photography
Pixabay features over 2.5 million free stock photos, images, videos, and music you can use anywhere. Pixabay is a vibrant community of creatives who share copyright-free media. All content released on Pixabay is released under its own License, which makes it safe to use without asking for permission or giving credit to the artist – even for commercial purposes.
Unsplash features over 2 million free high-resolution images and bills itself as the Internet’s source of freely usable images. The Unsplash team hand-selects every photo and accepts only the best, so no matter what you need, you can be assured the photo will be high-quality when obtained from Unsplash. Currently, the site is home to more than 200 thousand photographers, from hobbyists to professionals, emerging brands, and everyone in between. Unsplash’s library is also integrated into apps like Trello, Squarespace, WordPress Media Library, and more!
Burst is a free stock photo platform powered by Shopify. The image library includes thousands of high-resolution, royalty-free images shot by their global community of photographers. Built to provide designers, developers, bloggers, and entrepreneurs with access to beautiful free stock photography. You can use the pictures from Burst just about anywhere, such as your website, blog, online store, school projects, even Instagram and Facebook ads! Burst doesn’t even mind if you crop, resize, add filters or text to their images.
Pexels offers thousands of free high-resolution and royalty-free stock photography. All content from Pexels is licensed using the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, which means you can use it anywhere without requiring attribution, even in commercial use. One of my favorite features about Pexels is their Discover tab, which shows popular collections, and also their “Recommended for You” section, which surfaces pics you may like based on your browsing and searching history. You can also search for images by color or technical use, such as background or cover photos. No registration is required to use Pexels.
#5 FOCA Stock
The FOCA Stock library has thousands of free high-resolution, high-quality royalty-free images under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, which means you can use the images anywhere without requiring attribution. FOCA was launched in 2014 by its current owner, Jeffrey Betts, to share their love of photography with the world. The library not only features images he’s taken but images from the community as well. With many categories, including nature, city scenes, workspaces, and macro photography, you’re sure to find something you’ll love!
Picography features thousands of free high quality royalty-free images you can use anywhere, as they’re licensed under the Creative Commons Zero license. I really like this site because they have a focus on images of objects rather than scenery imagery, or workspace imagery. If you’re looking for closeups and high-quality animal photography, you’ll love the Picography library!
#7 Free Images
Free Images is very similar to Picography in that they don’t have huge libraries of images, but rather focus on specific collections, such as Architecture, People & Families, Automotives, Health & Medical, and more. While not all of the imagery here is free to use anywhere, it is free as in there is no price to acquire the imagery. Depending on the license attached to the image you want to use, you may need to notify the author of how you are using the image. Be sure to read thru the corresponding part of the Image Agreement before downloading the image.
What is life without whimsy? Boring. And it would be one without the wonderfully whimsical site that is Gratisography. If you’re looking for photos that are on the irreverent, humorous, or cute side, you’ll fall in love with the collection from Gratisography. As you can tell from the name of the site, it’s free all around – royalty-free, free as in cost, and free to use, no sign-ups required. My favorite part about Gratisography is their whimsical collection, where you can find images such as a Rhino with a birthday buzzer or a woman scarfing down cheesy puffs!
Reshot offers an extensive library of high resolution, high quality, royalty-free, and free as in no cost to acquire, images that are unique and very Insta-worthy. Their library is chock full of clean and collected, cool-looking content, that is sure to keep your social media feed looking colorful! The photography in their library comes from talented photographers who have partnered with Reshot to share their photography. Keep in mind, some of their images may contain trademarks or brands owned by third parties and if you want to use those images, you’ll need to obtain permission. For example, an image may contain someone using an iPhone, and you might need to obtain permission from Apple, Inc in order to use that image.
#10 Life of Pix
Life of Pix features high-quality, royalty-free stock photography and is brought forth by the LEEROY Creative Agency. Each week the website features a collection of images from a new member to their site. If you’re a photographer looking to get your images out there, this is a great place to start. And if you’re a blogger or designer looking for high-quality images to bring life to your content, look no further. Keep in mind, while there is no copyright on the images for personal or commercial use, Life of Pix forbids using the images for mass distribution. This means you can’t take one of their images and print it on a t-shirt, then sell a million of those shirts with that image.
#11 Kaboom Pics
Kaboom Pics was started by Karolina, a self-confessed coffee addict who spends her time curating digital images for her website. Millions of people visit her site every month to download her photography, which ranges from flowers, abstracts, architecture, people, and more. With a color sorter on the home page, you can find images in any color that will be sure to match the palette of your website.
#12 ISO Republic
The ISO Republic is an independent website that provides curated collections of the best high-resolution photos and videos under the Creative Commons Zero license. My favorite feature about ISO republic is their Collections, where they have grouped images and video together under certain topics, such as Women Taking the Lead, Spirit of Entrepreneurship, and Designer’s Toolkit. They also have an excellent search function if you are looking for specific colors, subject matter, or sized imagery.
StockSnap offers thousands of high-quality, royalty-free, free (no cost) images which they curate monthly from thousands of submissions. They have a handy tag-based search system that supports exotic queries, like love, which returns images of couples and the like. StockSnap also has a trending section that shows you what’s really poppin’ in stock photography on that day!
#14 PIK Wizard
Like other free stock photo sites, PIK Wizard has an enormous collection of thousands of high-quality, high-resolution, royalty-free imagery for your website. If you’re looking for something specific, be sure to check their Food and Drink sections, as well as the Parks and Outdoor section for some unique imagery from different parts of the world. This is a great site to keep in your back pocket for blog and marketing imagery!
#15 Free Stocks
Free Stocks’ library may not be as huge as some of the sites I’ve listed above, but the photography here is top-notch and it’s real. One of my favorite things about the way the images from Free Stocks look is that they look like they were taken by anyone, not just a photographer who has a Degree in photography if you know what I mean. Also, their site requires no signup and their imagery can be used anywhere without attribution required.
#16 New Old Stock
New Old Stock’s library is full of vintage photos from the public archives. There are no known copyright restrictions on any of their images. Curated by Product Designer Cole Townsend, there are even stock packs that contain images associated with Constructive Geometries and Americana, perfect for blogging or old-timey websites!
#17 Foodies Feed
If you have a food-oriented website, you’ll definitely find yourself in need of food-related imagery for your blog and other parts of your website, even your newsletters. Not a great food photographer? Don’t worry about it, Foodies Feed has you covered with its collection of thousands of high-resolution, free (no cost to use), royalty-free imagery dedicated to all things FOOD. This is a really niche stock photography site, but the more I think about it, the more use cases I see for it. Keep this one in your bookmarks, you’ll definitely need it!
#18 PNG Tree
If you find yourself working with a lot of vector art that you place on top of actual photographs, you will love PNG Tree. The free to register website contains thousands of really cool, royalty-free vectors, backgrounds, templates, text effects, and images you can use for your website. I’m especially fond of all the PNG images and templates you can use in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator to make those awesome stock photos pop with your branding and a little artwork.
BONUS – Two Phenomenal Paid Sites
FreePik is one of those sites that you dream about at night. With the assets available from Freepik, you can find everything you need for your website or blog. With a Premium account, which carries a nominal yearly fee, you get virtually unlimited downloads and access to their content library which updates throughout the day. Find everything you need there, from high-quality stock photography to Vectors and PSD files, which you can use for business needs, like business cards, menus, and signage.
Canva is a graphic design platform, used to create social media graphics, presentations, posters, documents, and other visual content. The free app includes 250,000 free templates, 100+ design types, and hundreds of thousands of free graphics, however, Canva offers a Pro subscription, which bumps the features up to, 420,000 templates, 75 million stock photos, videos, and graphics, and 100 GB of cloud storage, plus a litany of other features you are sure to find useful.
And there you have it! ChemiCloud’s ultimate list of places to get graphics and art assets of all kinds for your blog, website, or business needs. With this list, you can focus on building your brand and expanding your client base, rather than hunting down images or paying exorbitant fees for a few pictures.
Let us know what you think in the comments! Did we miss your favorite site?