As recently as just a few years ago, if you wanted high-quality photos to use on your website, social media, or ads, you typically had to pay for them – often at a minimum of around $20 for a single image.
Fortunately, sites offering completely free stock photos have begun to pop up.
For a long time, sites with free stock photos simply didn’t have very good images. The difference between free stock photos and paid royalty-free stock photos was obvious.
That has changed, and there are now a good amount of sites offering incredibly beautiful free stock photos. Some of these sites are ad-supported, while others are just very generous professional photographers making their work available for everyone to use as they wish.
That said, the phrase ‘you get what you paid for’ can still sometimes apply to free stock photo websites.
We worked to hunt down the very best options for you (ie, sites that feature photos that don’t look like typical cheesy stock photos).
We used the following criteria to narrow down a broad list of free stock photo websites to a handful that you’ll likely find yourself using over and over again.
Pexels features thousands of outstanding stock photos that you are free to use however you wish.
All photos on Pexels are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero license. This means the pictures are completely free to be used for any legal purpose.
The only small restriction Pixel mentions is that identifiable people may not appear in a bad light or in a way that they may find offensive, unless they give their consent. You should also make sure the depicted content (people, logos, private property, etc.) is suitable for your application and doesn’t infringe any rights.
Pexels also has a desktop app for both Mac and Windows, as well as a plugin for Photoshop (both the app and plugin are free).
Check out Pexels
Unsplash has Over 300,000 completely-free high-resolution photos brought from an incredibly generous community of photographers.
All photos published on Unsplash can be used for free, for both commercial and noncommercial purposes. You do not need to ask permission from or provide credit to the photographer or Unsplash, (although they point out that it is appreciated when possible). Pretty much the only (pretty obvious) requirement is that you can re-sell photos downloaded from Unsplash and try to market them as your own.
In addition to featuring an easily-searchable image library, Unsplash has photo collections, currated by popular brands, including, Inc. Magazine, Trello, and Squarespace.
Check out Unsplash
StockSnap offers a large library of free stock photos, including a lot of great photos for businesses.
All photos on StockSnap fall under the Creative Commons CC0 license. That means you can copy, modify, distribute any photo on the site, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.
Website features including infinite scrolling and the ability to sort by category let you find a great image for your blog or marketing campaign.
Check out StockSnap
KaboomPics is the work of a Polish web designer named Karolina.
KaboomPics features creative high-quality photos that cover a variety of scenarious (including a good assortment of business and technology photos).
You have the freedom to use them for free for both commercial and personal use. While there are no formal attribution requirements, Karolina does ask that you include photo credit with a link back to the site when possible.
Despite the somewhat weird name, KaboomPics features a vast library of quality free stock photos.
One area where KaboomPics stands out is by offering some more advanced search features. You can narrow down your search by image color, as well as horizontal and vertical images. This functionality is typically something you’d see on the paid royalty free stock photo sites, but not usually the free ones.
Check out KaboomPics
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