Photo credit: Pexels
Finding good and free images is not as hard as it used to be, if you know where to look. Here are some great free stock photo sites divided between 100% free photos under the Creative Commons (CCO) license (free as long you don’t say the photos are yours) and those under different Creative Commons licenses (usually they just want you to give them credit, that’s all). Nonetheless, both are free for you to use for personal or commercial purposes. All sites do not require your registration unless stated.
Pixabay is probably the largest 100% free stock photos website in the world with 1.5 million photos and counting. All photos (and videos too) operate under the Creative Commons (CCO) license, in other words, they are completely free for personal or commercial use. They offer images from photos, vector images and even artistic illustrations. You also get to choose different resolutions you desire – from 640 pixels wide to 1920 pixels and more. Registration is optional, however, it will constantly bug you with a captcha screen each time you wish to download (you are not a robot, are you?).
Unsplash is among the leading free stock image sites. It features a huge collection of over 550,000 high-resolution photos. The photos are under the free license provided by the site itself. Additionally, for an easier user experience, the best photos are featured on its homepage. Feel free to leave credit to the photographers, although it’s optional. But do note that all their photos only come in super high resolutions. Resizing may be required.
Follow closely behind the top heavyweights of free images is Pexels. The entire website is very much like Pixabay, however, their collection may not be as large. Their images are actually sourced from Pixabay, Gratisography, Little Visuals and many others. The website did not respond to our inquiry on the number of photos they curate. Nonetheless, only completely free photos and videos are listed without any attribution necessary. So, if you couldn’t find the photos that you want from the top sites, this is next best alternative.
Another top free image website for you to consider is FreeImages with its over 384,000 photos to choose from. You are only bound to their free license deal which basically lets you do anything to their photos except a few caveats. One small catch is that if you’re using them for editorial purposes, you must include the following credit adjacent to the content – “FreeImages.com/Artist’s Member Name.”
This site has an extensive collection of photos (over 350,000) but not necessarily high in quality. It’s almost a replica of Flickr where you find photos of all sorts – from selfies to vintage images. The photos are posted by random people and they feature all kinds of themes, all under the Morgue License.
Librestock curates more than 48,700 CC0-licensed photos from other websites under the same license such as Pexels, StockSnap, Negative Space, ISO Republic, Picography, Gratisography, ShotStash and others. Their user interface is similar to Google where you search by keywords and the photos appear in the search results that bring you to the respective sites. They offer curated videos too.
This free stock photo site has over 32,000 photos and hundreds more are added to this broad selection every day. StockSnap offers all its photos under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, which falls under the public domain use. You can search them through an easy to use search feature.
The photos are of superior high quality and they feature lots of themes like abstract, fashion, food, landscape, and even city and architectural themes. You could conveniently filter your search based on orientation – landscape or portrait, and even color theme. If you’re looking for a photo with green in it, you could filter for that too. It has a quick download option that lets you download directly from the search listing and you could also choose different sizes to download. The most amazing feature Kaboom Pics offers is the photos also come in a set called photoshoot – you could get photos of the same man using a laptop shot differently. Although the free images on this site can be used for commercial purposes, they cannot be sold or redistributed.
With this free stock photo site, you will also get a design wizard you can use to edit the photos before you download them. In addition to free editing services, you can also pay for a full-featured photo editing tool. Some photos fall under the CC0 license and their own free license where their photographers retain the copyright ownership but let you use their photos at no cost for personal or commercial purposes.
They offer many great varieties of high-quality photos. Their huge array of categories consist of abstract, animals, architecture, business, black & white, food, landscapes, nature, people, sport, street, technology, transport, and work. All photos are CC0 licensed.
The site, created by Viktor Hanacek, has a wide variety of free photos about nature, fashion, technology, and other things. These photos under the author’s own license and are intended for both commercial and personal use. New photos are always handy as the site adds new photos every day.
This site promises only handpicked, non-stocky images just like Unsplash. Thus, it gives upcoming photographers the chance to showcase their photography skills to the world. The photos are free for commercial and personal use under its own free license and high in resolution.
Rawpixel is actually a company that releases some of their photos under their own free license but restricting it to only 100 downloads per month (registration is required). The site has a very diverse selection of stock photos. In addition, the site is also a good source of free PSD mockups, EPS vectors, illustrations and so forth.
This free photo site is created by Shopify and it focuses on providing more than 9,000 free photos to entrepreneurs. There are two kinds of licenses the site uses – the Creative Commons (CC0) license and a Shopify license. A majority of the photos in the site are created by Burst itself, and their theme centers on business niches. The focus of this free photo site is helping entrepreneurs create better websites, products, and marketing campaigns. The site also has a selection of general photos to offer its users.
The site has a huge selection of photos for both commercial and personal use. The photos feature high resolutions. Additionally, the photos do not come with any licensing restrictions and they are all the work of Ryan McGuire.
This site has many great high-resolution photos and it operates under the Creative Commons CC0 license. It also comes with its own Android and iOS apps.
The site has several good quality free images (more than 2,130) covering a broad range of categories. The photos are not under the CC0 license but instead their own license that lets you use them freely, but copyright still belongs to the photographers. You could subscribe to their newsletter to get free images send to you every week.
The photos on Picography operate under the Creative Commons CC0 license. They are created by Dave Meier and many other photographers.
As its name suggests, this site has very unique travel photos, and it operates under a Creative Commons CC0 license. You could even download the entire photo collection at once.
As the name implies, FoodiesFeed focuses on providing high-quality food photos. The site has more than 1,000 photos of a variety of foods under the CC0 license. One problem is that the site has very cluttering ads.
The site operates under a Creative Commons CC0 license. In general, the site provides over 1,700 high-quality photos featuring a wide range of themes such as animals, city, fashion, nature, tech and people.
Jeffrey Betts is the photographer behind the high-resolution photos and videos on this site. He mostly shares photos on computers and workspaces, although he also dabbles in photos of flowers and nature. These photos and videos are offered under the Creative Commons CC0 license. The best part is the site comes with its built-in photo editor so you could edit them (brightness, contrast, saturation, etc) before you download.
The photos on this site are under the Creative Commons 0 license, and they are free for all use. Unfortunately, the owner of this site passed away, but the photos remain to be his memory.
The photos on this site are free from any copyright limitations, in order words public domain. The site specializes in only vintage photos from public archives.
This website was launched in 2014 by amateur photographers with day jobs from Groningen and Drenthe in The Netherlands. It operates under the Creative Commons CC0 license. The photos are created by the owners of this online photo resource, and they touch on a broad range of themes.
It contains photos meant for startups, bloggers, publishers, websites, designers, developers and creators. This site has plenty of photos of people using laptops and gadgets. All photos are cc0-licensed.
StyledStock is a unique site that offers beautiful female-themed photos. The photos can be used for both commercial and personal projects but copyright is still the property of the authors.
The photos on this site are added on a daily basis, and they operate under their free license that makes them useful for both commercial and personal use. The photos feature a broad range of themes. They were honest to mention they only have 270 photos to date but the quality is superb.
The creator of this site offers photos on his site, and he encourages his visitors to use them. The photos are available under a Creative Commons CC0 license.
The site offers free high-resolution photos that have no copyright restrictions on them. New photos are added to the stock on a daily basis, and they are created by LEEROY creative agency.
Flickr (Mixed Licenses)
Flickr made into this list because of its ability for you to search for photos based on creative commons licenses, for commercial use and more. With its 3.5 million photos uploaded daily, it has a broad selection of photos you can possibly work with. Fortunately, the site also has powerful search feature, and you can even search for photos based on shape, license type, and many other features. The site also has a huge selection of high resolution as well as other kinds of photos.
Wikimedia Commons (Over 40.3 million media files, Mixed Licenses)
Surely one of the largest sites with photos and video collections. There are over 40.3 million media files on all Wikimedia projects as of July 2017. Each photo comes with its own Creative Commons (CC) license so please use prudently. Nonetheless, most photos are under the public domain. You may learn more about all the types of CC licenses available here.
Stockvault (Mixed Licenses)
Available since 2004, this site has a huge collection of free stock photos, wallpapers, backgrounds, textures and even insect photos. The photos come in either one of these types of licenses – Non-Commercial, Commercial and Public Domain (CC0). Photos are added daily and searching for the kind of photos you need is quite easy using the browsing feature provided.
Passel (Mixed CC0 to 3.0 Licenses)
This site curates Creative Commons licensed stock photos from over 25 other websites such as Super Famous, Designer Pics, Free Nature Stock, BucketListly Blog and a lot more. Licenses for photos range from CC0 to CC by 3.0 (requires attribution). It lists over 18,600 photos to date. More photos are added every week.
Magdeleine (Mixed Licenses)
This site selectively hand-pick the best high-resolution photos from many free sources. The photos offer variety in a broad number of ways, including the nature of their licenses. Most photos are under Creative Commons CC0 license while some photos require attribution (CC BY).
Free Food Photos (Mixed Licenses)
This site was launched in 2013 with the aim to provide high-quality photos on foods when two food lovers saw a complete lack on food photography ‘good taste’ on free stock photography sites. You can use the photos for both personal and commercial use but please check the different licenses that accompany each photo.
Albumarium (Mixed Licenses)
The photos are arranged into albums, and very many categories of these albums are available. Although some albums only have a few images, you can find a lot of free unique photos on this site, which you might not find on other stock photo sites. Do check the exact Creative Commons license each photo bear.
Note: Errors and omissions excepted (E&EO)
Melvin Wong is the founder of Kodorra who educates entrepreneurs to run their business with the least cost possible. He’s an award-winning entrepreneur with global business experience in 17 countries covering U.S, Europe, Asia and South America. He started his entire startup all by himself in a small rented room with only $3,000 and eventually got acquired by an American-Japanese company in Los Angeles. He is proud of his startup’s diversity, where he hired about 100 people from 17 countries.