Who doesn’t love things for free? I always look for free themes for my new websites. As you know I like to test VPNs, web hosting services, I jump on the things that either give a free-trial or promise a money-back guarantee. I prefer them first because I don’t want to lose my hard-earned money on unworthy stuff.
Webmasters have to deal with a lot of stuff – SEO, content marketing, etc. They have to shell a decent amount on their websites so that the website has a good standing. One of the important factors affecting SEO and attracting your audience is the images.
If you think you can simply download images that you found from Google, then you are so very wrong. Hear it from me, I’m telling you this by my experience – DON’T EVER TAKE IMAGES FROM GOOGLE WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE LEGAL OWNER. There are tons of websites that faced copyright issues after using such images.
But, don’t worry. There are multiple sites for free stock photos that you can use (with care) for your blogs.
Now comes the next question, ‘which site provides best free stock images?’ I’m going to tell you just that. I’m listing down the best sites where you download free photos.
P.S.: After my bad experience, I would suggest bloggers to go for an affordable royalty free stock images, just to be on the safe side.
Here is a what will you find in this article?
- Best free stock photography sites
- Best premium stock photography sites
- Benefits of premium stock photography sites
- General FAQ
- Which one is the best option for you?
Best Free Stock Photography Sites
There are literally hundreds of free stock photo sites on the internet. However, every site is not worth your time. Here is a quick list of free sites for stock photos.
9. Life of Pix
17. Startup Stock Photos
19. FOCA Stock
20. Freerange Stock
Let us briefly look at each site’s features, its license information, pros and cons.
Pixabay is by far the most famous site for free stock images. You can download free photos, vectors, videos, music, and illustrations.
It is founded by Hans Braxmeier and Simon Steinberger on 24 November 2010 in Ulm, Germany. Canva, a graphic design platform, bought Pixabay and Pexels in May 2019.
You get almost every image that you can think of – there are over a million royalty free images. The images are sourced from multiple around the world. Most of the images present on Pixabay are of high quality and can be used without any problem on your blog.
You can even upload the images. You need to register with them for free and then can submit the photos. A professional photographer and an image editor review the images that you submitted and once they approve it, the images go online on Pixabay.
You can use images for commercial use in both digital and print formats that too with no attributions. But you cannot sale or redistribute unaltered images.
- High quality images.
- Million+ images.
- Image is reviewed thoroughly before appearing on Pixabay.
- User-submission system.
Pexels is yet another German free stock photo site. It is co-founded by Bruno Joseph, and Ingo Joseph in 2015 and a third partner, Daniel Frese joined Pexels in 2015. In May 2019, Canva bought Pexels.
You get hundreds and thousands of free high-resolution stock images submitted by artists or added from other free image sites. There is a rich catalogue and all the images are free to download and that too with no attributions.
You can also upload images to their site. You can upload and download HD videos as well. The coolest thing about Pexels is the fact that you can get Pexels images on your Photoshop just by downloading Photoshop plugin provided by them. You can do the same with WordPress by using WordPress plugin.
The images of Pexels come under Creative Commons Zero (CC0). You can use the photos without providing any attributions.
- High resolution images.
- Beautiful and eye-catchy imagery.
- Photoshop plugin and WordPress plugin.
- Pexels app for both android and iOS.
- User submission system.
- Images are added from other free stock image sites.
Unsplash is a stock photography sharing website. It is founded by Angus Woodman, Luke Chesser, Mikael Cho, and Stephanie Liverani in 2013. Its headquarters is in Quebec’s Montreal. It is one of the leading photography websites as cited by Forbes, CNET, The Next Web, etc.
It has over 200,000 photographers and a little over 2 million photos in its kitty. You have a wide range of categories that you can choose from for picking your photos. All the images are high resolution and beautiful.
You can also contribute to the photos uploaded on their site. However, it has to go through a set of curators to get the green signal.
Similar to Pixabay, Unsplash images can be used for commercial purposes with no attribution required but you can’t do image compiling, redistributing or reselling unaltered images.
- Easy and navigable site.
- Youthful and arty photos.
- It has its own API.
PikWizard is a free stock photo site which is extremely professional. It was founded by Sean Prior and it is a part of Wavebreak Media.
Just like Unsplash, they have a wide range of categories. They have thousands of images out of which most of them are contributed by stock media producers. You can download free videos as well.
Want more? They even have a blog and DesignWizard, a graphic design platform, similar to Canva. You can use this platform for free.
You can use their images and videos for commercial use but you can’t resell their images or use their images on products of print format like t-shirts, caps, etc.
- On-page image editing with DesignWizard.
- Professional style imagery.
- Functionality and navigability of the site needs improvement.
Gratisography is different. The owner, Ryan McGuire, a web designer is the sole contributor of the images you can find on this site. There are around 500 high resolution images that are unique and different from other sites.
Great thing is they are completely free and have negligible copyright restrictions.
You can use it for almost anything – be it for your personal use or for commercial use. You can use the prints of the images on your books, magazines, websites, etc. However, you cannot resell or redistribute the images.
- Unique photos.
- Photos are perfect for Instagram.
- Photos attract young audience.
- Very small collection of photos.
In 2017, Shopify, one of the e-commerce giants, developed Burst. They created this site to provide free images which are useful for commercial use and e-shops. But these images can be used for a blog post and even social media.
There are thousands of high-resolution photos in various categories like lifestyle, technology, etc. The contributors to the photos are users and photographers hired by Shopify.
There are two licenses. The first one is Creative Commons Zero (CC0 – free for commercial usage) and the other one is custom license. Custom license is similar to CC0 and allows products for resale. Image compilation is not an option.
- High quality photos.
- Suitable for e-shops, social media, advertisements, etc.
- Two nearly identical licenses make things little confusing.
It is one of the famous fine art photography sites. A photographer and SEO consultant, Martin Vorel founded Libreshot. He is the sole contributor of it.
There are thousands of images that are of very good quality and the images are spanned across several categories. All the images are absolutely free.
The license is Creative Commons Public Domain license and has almost near-to-zero copyright restrictions.
- Fine art photography
- Perfect for printing and usage for other artistic ventures
- Some of the photos are commercially not valuable.
Daniel Nanesou, a photographer started SplitShire. All the images that you find on SplitShire are his creations and are from his personal archive.
You can simply download the images and use them for absolutely free.
There is a custom license which is same as Creative Commons Zero which allows you to use the images for commercial purposes. But, you can’t resell unaltered images i.e., the image that you will be selling should be a little different from the downloaded image.
- Trendy images with current themes.
- Perfect for websites, blog posts, advertisements, etc.
- Less number of images.
Life of Pix
LEEROY, a Canadian digital marketing agency is the founder of Life of Pix. It is home of thousands of artsy and high-resolution images. Due to multiple categories, you can almost find anything and everything.
All the images are submitted by photographers (so, the photos of are of high quality) and you can use them for free.
You can use it for commercial purpose and you don’t even have to give any attribution but the only copyright restriction is mass distribution is forbidden.
- Amazing level of curation.
- It has a different site which has only videos.
- Limited number of photos considered to other sites.
- Extremely slow site speed.
Rawpixel is founded by Robert Churchill. This site has thousands of spectacular photos and only professionals are the contributors.
There is a glitch. Though it is free, you can download a maximum of 100 images in one month. Photos are present in three categories – free, premium, and public domain.
Premium plans are casual and business. Casual plan allows you to use the photos only for your personal use. Photos downloaded from business plan can be used for commercial use. There is a lifetime premium membership as well.
Free usage for commercial use but reselling is not allowed.
- Trendy design of website.
- High-resolution images.
- The search bar for three categories is same which leads to confusion.
Viktor Hanacek, a stock photographer, founded PicJumbo. The photos that are available on the site are commercial-friendly, high-resolution, and royalty free. Hanacek is the only person who contributes in the website.
There are well over 2,000 photos and wide themes are covered. All the images are absolutely free.
It also has a premium membership option. Similar to Rawpixel, you need to pay for premium plans. It also has a lifetime premium membership.
Creative Commons Zero license for all the photos.
- Commercial friendly.
- No license issues.
- Artistic edge is missing.
Karolina Grabowska, a photographer and designer, founded Kaboompics. This site provides images of high quality with a natural feel.
There are over 8,000 photos distributed in different fields. All of the photos belong to Karolina. All the images are completely free and there is no premium membership at all.
You can use the images for both commercial and non-commercial use. You don’t have to give any attribution. But you cannot sell any unaltered images in any format and you need to take permission to redistribute any image.
- Perfect for social media.
- High-end functionality.
- Less variety in few categories.
Rgbstock site was created in 2010 by a group of graphic artists and photographers led by Jay Simmons. There are over 100,000 stock photos for absolutely free.
The site is crowdsourced and hence even you can contribute to the site. However, the quality and originality are tested by professionals before they are okayed to be highlighted on the site.
All the images are good for commercial use and personal use. You can’t use any of the photos for reselling or redistribution.
- Professional style of photos.
- A lot of variety.
- You can directly message the legal owner of the photos.
- User-submission system.
- Photos are not artsy.
Two entreprenuers, Marc Chouinard and Christopher Gimmer, developed StockSnap.io and Snappa, a graphic design tool. There are over a thousand images spanned across different niches. The site is crowdsourced and all the photos are free.
You can find photos of everyday life, travel, urban scenes, landscapes, and photos for social media.
You are free to use for non-commercial and commercial purposes. You can’t sell the images as-is and can’t even redistribute them.
- Perfect for blogposts.
- Good variety.
- Some images are not commercially valuable.
- User-submission system.
FancyCrave is owned by Igor Ovsyannykov, a commercial photographer started Fancy Crave. This site offers thousands of images for the user to download. Professional photographers and laymen like us can contribute to this site. The images are curated and only the selected ones make it to the website.
Most of the focus is on travel photography and the photos in general had a modern style. The site also offers premium photos of course, for a price.
All of the images are under CC0 license which allows you to use for commercial purposes.
- Perfect for travel related blogs.
- User submissions
Picspree is the new kid in the block but is backed by Getty Images. It has thousands of high-resolution images, illustrations, and vectors – all of them are free to be downloaded. It is a crowdsourced site.
Just like Pixabay, it has images of iStock shown every time you click on a photo. The images from iStock costs you money.
The images are free for commercial and non-commercial use with no attribution required.
- High resolution images.
- Images have professional look.
- Free vectors and illustrations.
- Images of people are very few.
Startup Stock Photos
A social media marketing agency, Sculpt, founded Startup Stock Photos. This free stock image site focuses only on images of startups, entrepreneur community, small and medium businesses. You can’t find images of other categories.
Only three artists contribute to this site and they belong to the mother company. The images are professional and commercial.
All the images found in Startup Stock Photos fall under Creative Commons Zero (CC0) and hence they are free to use for commercial purposes.
- High quality photos
- The site is dedicated to startups, entrepreneurship, etc.
- Natural and realistic style of photos
- Basic site – doesn’t even have a search engine on the site.
Just like Startup Stock Photos, FoodiesFeed is a free stock photo site that is completely dedicated to food photos. Jakub Kapusnak, a food photographer, started this site. Users can also submit their photos.
Needless to say, all the images are free.
The images are under Creatives Commons Zero and are free for commercial usage.
- The site is dedicated to a single category.
- High-resolution images.
- User submission system
FOCA Stock provides free images in various categories but their focus is on workspace and nature. It is created by Jeffrey Betts, a designer and a photographer.
The images are of high quality and can be used in creative projects. You can even download free images and there is a wallpaper creation tool through which you can create a wallpaper of any image on their site.
All the images are free for commercial use as they fall under Creative Commons Zero.
- Amazing curation.
- Free videos.
- Wallpaper creation tool.
- People photos are very few.
Freerange Stock has thousands of free stock images of multiple categories. You can download them for free and use for commercial and personal purposes. The photos are submitted by the creators and users.
There are two licenses. The first one is Equalicense and the second one is Creative Commons Zero. Equalicense has more restrictions than CC0.
You can’t resale or go for mass production if you select Equalicense. The images are free for commercial usage if you select CC0.
- Huge gallery.
- Not all photos are of high quality.
Best Premium Stock Photography Websites
Premium stock photo websites give you access to high quality and high-resolution images which are perfect for you blog/site and that too without any worries of copyright or attributions.
2. Adobe Stock
4. Getty Images
6. Envato Elements
Let us quickly go through the features of each site, its pros and cons, and its license information.
If you are in need of simple yet high quality photos for your blog or website, then you can opt for Phototcase. It provides an image in different sizes. You can use the images for both digital and print.
Photocase uploads new images daily. The curation level is excellent. Their customer service is easy to use. You can ask any questions that you have before buying a photo and they are readily available to respond to you.
It also provides legal protection that means you can happily post the photo anywhere you want without any worry.
- Excellent high-quality photos.
- Great curation.
- New images are uploaded daily.
Adobe is famous for its editing applications. Adobe also has its own premium stock photos site. Images from Adobe stock are amazing. They are of high-quality and resolution. The images work great for both web and print.
The customer care service is simple and easy to use. It uploads the images regularly.
You can use the images without a worry in print and digital formats.
- High quality photos.
- Great customer service.
Shutterstock is the best option when you need photos on a regular basis and want to go for a subscription-based plan. They have different plans to suit different budgets. You can also pay for a single photo or a set of photos for a fixed fee.
Shutterstock has the largest library of images. The curation, however, is sub-par. If you are willing to search through thousands of images to get the image of your liking, then Shutterstock is for you.
It provides legal protection for all the images that you buy from Shutterstock.
- Largest library.
- Decent pricing.
- Sub-par curation.
If you want to get images for any current events or recent events, blindly go for Getty Images. It offers editorial images as well which many of the photography sites don’t.
Needless to say, the images are of high quality and high resolution. The pricing of Getty Images is a little higher.
Full license to use images as you wish in print and web formats.
- High quality photos
- Editorial images are plenty.
iStock is a division of Getty Images. The images that you find in iStock are more creative than the ones in Getty Images. iStock is a little cheaper that Adobe Stock, Getty Images, etc.
iStock works best for the ones who are on a tight budget and for bloggers and designers. Just like other premium stock photo sites, you can find photos, videos, illustrations, vectors, etc.
You can use images for both commercial and non-commercial purpose. You are legally protected.
- Creative photos.
- Smaller library compared to Flickr or Getty Images or Shutterstock.
Envato Elements is by far the cheapest of the premium stock photography sites. It provides good quality photos. Not just photos, you get music, video templates, graphic templates, fonts, stock video, and more in one plan.
Unlike other stock photo sites, it doesn’t limit your download to 10 or 20. It provides unlimited downloads of music, stock videos, photos, etc.
You can happily use these images commercially.
- Good quality of photos.
- Small number of photos compared to other sites.
Benefits of Premium Stock Photography Sites
There are several benefits of using premium stock photography sites. Some of them are as follows:
- High-resolution photos.
- High quality photos.
- Curated images by professionals, so you don’t have waste your time searching through thousands of images.
- Wide range of artistic levels ranging from editorial to creative.
- You can find rare subjects like government officials, models, celebrities, exotic animals, etc.
Basic and traditional stock images save time, energy, and money but premium stock images save all the three a little more. You don’t have invest your money on freelancers and editors, you get high quality photos from a site which are perfect for your need.
If you want to have photos that are not easily available on the internet or if your website is related to timely content, then premium stock image sites get the images faster than other sites.
You can even cherry pick the photographers from the premium sites if you want to work with them in future. You don’t have spend thousands of dollars for trying a photographer. On a premium site, you know you like the style of the photographer and you can contact the photographer without any delay.
Well, the answer depends on what you need. If you want regular photos for your blog, you can choose Envato Elements or Shutterstock and in free versions you can always check Pixabay. If you have a food related website, FoodiesFeed is the best source. If you cover recent events, no one can beat Getty Images.
Every stock photography site has its plus and minuses. The site that is best for you depends on your artistic level, budget, time, energy, and content.