Sun Jan 2021
The Ultimate Guide To Free Stock Photos [Plus 21 Recommended Websites]
Your campaigns need to be eye catching. Facebook, Instagram and other channels are busy places.
You need to stand out.
But how can you get brilliant photos on a small budget?
Free stock photos are your answer.
A Note About Licences
Copyright automatically applies to all works. You can’t just steal images from the internet and hope for the best. It’s very easy to find stolen images. Creators can and will sue.
Most Free stock photos operate with a Creative Commons Public Domain License, or CC0 license for short.
Creators can put a CC0 licence on their work and allow the work to be used for free. For artwork and photography, you do not need to credit the original creator. For other types of work, such as scientific research released under CC0, you should credit the original author.
Before you use a photo, make sure you read and understand the terms of the licences. These can often be found on the download page for each photo.
Works with CC0 licences are essentially in the public domain. You can use the images for marketing and commercial purposes without credit.
Make sure you check the licenses on each photo, and if you use asset logs, note down the licence. At the time of writing, these are all free to use. Please check the licenses before you use the images.
Where can I get free stock photos?
Unsplash is our favourite free stock image websites. They have thousands of free high resolution stock photos from many different photographers. You can download the images for free, but it does give you the option to donate to the artist.
Pexels have a stunning library of high-quality photos and video. There’s fashion photography, backgrounds, products, nature, you name it.
One cool tip – if you hover over the download button, it gives you the option to resize your photo.
Pexel’s also host a various challenges where photographers can win cash prizes. These serve as a handy gallery of beautiful images that you can download.
Gratisography has a small but hilarious collection on photos. From nightmarish, disturbing faces, to brightly coloured illustrations.
If you’re looking for something whimsical, this is the place for you.,
kaboompick’s bright coloured pictures will add some fun into your feed. We love that you can search by colour too. The best feature is the colour search! This is perfect if you like to inject your brand colours into every photo.
Burst’s gallery is really well organised. They also have advice on how to use their images based on business ideas. Their pictures have an “Instagram” vibe. Shopify own Burst, so their gallery is a geared towards e-commerce pictures. But there are plenty of other industries covered too.
ISO republic has over 4000 images in their free images database, so you’ll probably find what you need here! They have an extensive range of imagery to fit any type of business or product. They have also introduced a stock video section, so anyone starting out in YouTube may want to check that out.
Barn image’s gallery is quite small but has a lovely style too them. There is quite a nice rustic, “instagramable” feel to the photos. What we love most about this website is their “Freebies” section. Here you can grab a load of free PSD templates, mock-ups and fonts, curated from other websites.
PicJumbo has an odd collection of free photos. They range from normal stock photos to abstract closeups and everything between. The images are better suited to editorial content, rather than social media.
Negative Space has an excellent eye on photography trends. Their collection reflects Instagram influencer style. This is a great database if you want to keep "on trend".
Startup Stock’s gallery are full of pictures of people working.The photos are a little too posed. But the pictures sum up start-up and marketing life so well.
Skitter photo is a great collection of very Instagram-friendly free stock photos. There are some stunning images on this website. There are a lot of close-up photos on this website, so it’s great for adding some variation into your feed.
This gallery has some incredible shots of nature at it’s most beautiful. These pictures make for great backgrounds for models or sales banners. They are also great to inject some relaxing scenery into your social media.
Picography has a real eclectic mix of photos. They cover pretty much everything! The website is simple to use and it’s quite addictive to scroll through the pages. Before you know it you’re 15 pages deep!
Pixabay has a very varied collection. From photography to clip art, Vector animation to video. The quality is a little lower than the other stock sites, but it is a goldmine for patterns and backgrounds. It also has a collection of models on plain backgrounds. If you're good with Photoshop you can add backgrounds to these.
Another travel based free stock website but focused more on China. There are some stunning images here. They range from traditional Chinese buildings, modern cityscapes and lots of nature. It’s worth looking through the pictures because there will be photos that work for your company. A big bonus is that you can download the entire photo pack via a OneDrive link.
StockSnap has a great gallery. We particularly like their collection of “people” images. There is a great mix of very posed images, and more natural pictures too.
Snapwire Snaps’s Tumblr account offers a range of free content. Navigating through the gallery is tedious but rewarding. There are many unique stock photos which will work wonders on social media and blogs.
Cupcake’s strength is it’s landscape photography. As well as being beautiful, these also are perfect for photoshopping models into. They would also be great for website banners. The photos have a lovely vintage feel to them. We would use these more for design work, but there are a lot of beautiful standalone pictures on here too.
Life of Pix has a delightful gallery. Full of abstract photos and unique posed pictures. It’s perfect for brands who want to stand out from their competition. A lot of their abstract images would look brilliant as sales banners
Where Can I Use Stock Photos?
There are plenty of places to use free stock photos! These include, but are not limited to:
- Social Media Profiles
- In images created by Canva, Photoshop and other design tools
- Blog posts
- News articles
Some stock websites allow you to use the images on commercial projects too, such as on t-shirts, mugs and product labels. However, always check the website licence before you use them. If you're not sure, you can always contact the company or photographer directly for written permission.
So that's it for our roundup of the top stock photo websites. Have another to add to the list? Send us a link on Twitter or Facebook.