Free images are available everywhere for download but that doesn’t mean they are copyright free images.
There are many paid stock photo sites, where you don’t have to worry about copyrights, but they come at a high cost especially if you require many images for your website or blog.
Search engines like Google also have many free images available for download, and although they seem free to use, they should not be used for commercial purposes. If the Google images are filtered with “tools” and “usage right”, you’ll notice that majority of the photos disappear.
Whether you’re building a website, starting a blog, or just need it for social media, free stock photos are essential when you’re in the beginning stages and need to keep the costs down.
Thanks to the many websites that hosts Creative Commons images, using stock images for commercial purposes doesn’t have to come with a price tag.
That’s why I compiled a list of websites with royalty free images that you can download, modify, and use without permission or have to worry about copyright infringements.
BEST WEBSITES WITH FREE PHOTOS AND STOCK IMAGES
Although these stock images are free to use, it is a good idea to check the site’s license to see how they should be appropriately used because they can differ from site to site – sometimes it may be necessary to give credit to the author of the stock photo.
Always check to ensure that stock photos fall under the CC0 creative commons zero license.
1 – PIXABAY
Pixabay is a huge resource site for media. They have over 1 million high quality stock images, illustrations, vectors and videos. The photos are royalty free, ideal for commercial use and fall under Creative Commons CC0.
They offer downloads in different resolutions and is usually one of the first free sites people check out, myself included. Four different resolution variations are available and the smaller sizes are practical for fast loading websites.
2 – UNSPLASH
Unsplash has a great selection of unique and artistic high resolution photos and images. You can search by a distinct keyword and narrow down your search results to something more specific.
If you sign up, Unsplash allows you to save the photos to favorites and or save it into a collection so you can always come back to all the images you saved.
If you like the images from a certain author, you can also follow them and their work. With over 800,000 photos and counting, there’s plenty to choose from.
3 – PEXELS
Pexels offers a big library of free stock photos, videos and all the photos are free for personal and commercial use. According to their site, anyone can modify, copy and distribute the photos without have to ask for permission so attribution is not required.
Their only restriction is that when using the photos, the subjects, people, and properties in the photos has to be in an appropriate context. They also have extensions and plugins that you can use alongside apps like Photoshop and the Chrome.
4 – LIFEOFPIX / LIFEOFVIDS
Lifeofpix and Lifeofvids are great for downloading high resolution photography and videos. They don’t have a vast selection but if you’re looking for something scenic and unique, go ahead and check them out.
Their quality of photography has some good artistic depth and the videos are quite captivating. I could see how this site could be very useful and popular for travel bloggers.
5 – BURST
Burst is another site for free stock photos. They are run by Shopify so it was intended for entrepreneurs in mind. Although you can’t choose a particular resolution, they do have a high resolution and a low resolution option for download.
The website has a black theme so it’s easier on the eyes when sifting through the images at night and the images are free for websites and commercial use. With Shopify being an ecommerce platform, Burst is a good starting point for finding stock images for businesses.
6 – FREERANGE
Freerange is yet another site for free images with no attribution required. Although they have a wide range of images, it is one of the better sites to find illustration graphics and tech photos.
There’s a smaller selection of artsy photos but I’ve already mentioned plenty of sites for those. They have three download sizes from small to full and if you use Pixlr to edit your images, there’s an option to load it directly into the software.
7 – KABOOMPICS
Kaboompics has a search interface that’s different than the other stock photo websites mentioned. They have an option to search for images by color.
Although the library is somewhat limited, if you need an image based on a particular color, you might find this feature useful. The photos are free for commercial use as long as the subjects in the images aren’t portrayed in an offensive manner.
8 – FREEIMAGES
Freeimages might be the place to go if you need a wide variety of categories. They have almost 400,000 random assortment of free photos and illustrations.
They don’t seem to specialize in a certain genre, rather, just a hodgepodge of images to use for whatever occasion.
9 – DEPOSITPHOTOS
Depositphotos is my go to site when all else fails. They have a huge collection of photos, images, vectors, and videos so if you can’t find what you’re looking for from the other free sites, you should be able to find it here.
It does require a paid membership but their prices are reasonable compared to other paid sites. They also have free photos and vectors for download on a weekly basis.
You can join just for the free stock photos. If you do opt for the premium membership, you shouldn’t have to pay more than a dollar for any photo with a standard license.
SHOULD YOU PAY FOR STOCK IMAGES
Even with all these free stock photo sites mentioned, there will be an instance where you can’t find a particular type of image and that’s when you should buy photos or images on sites like depositphotos.
The images are royalty free and come in several file sizes with options for standard license or extended license. With the extended license you are granted permission to resell the images but they generally cost more than the standard version.
When looking for stock images for your website, blog or social media, it is good practice to scan the free sites first and resort to the paid sites when you can’t find something specific.
They will come in handy and usually you should be able to find multiple variations of what you’re searching for.