If you’ve ever had to search for free stock photos on the internet, you’ll know what an annoying hassle it can be. Free stock photos are difficult to find, with many stock photo companies charging £10 or more for a single photo. Then even when you can find free stock photos, often they’re low resolution or watermarked.
But luckily for you, we’ve created a list of the world’s best free stock photo websites for business owners, designers, and anybody else who may find them useful:
Pixabay is the free photo site that we probably use the most. It features photos, illustrations, and vectors. Not only does this site offer an easy-to-use search feature, the images are brilliant, and most of them don’t require any attribution at all. Pixabay is a web designer’s dream!
Unsplash adds 10 new royalty-free photos every 10 days, mostly of breathtakingly beautiful landscapes. Just scroll through the homepage to see gorgeous sunsets, amazing mountain ranges or some nature – all in their high-resolution glory.
The collection of incredibly high-resolution images from Superfamous, by Dutch artist Folkert Gorter and his graphic-design peers, is ideal for web design or as background images. Just make sure you provide attribution.
Offered free from the talented photographer Ryan McGuire, the photos on Gratisography feature some of the most evocative images on the internet. The only downside is that there isn’t a search function so you’ll have to scroll to see what’s available, but the beautiful and royalty free pictures on here make this one of the best stock-free photo sites to go to for both personal and commercial projects.
Picjumbo is easy to navigate and provides extremely high-resolution photos, vectors and videos with no attribution required. It has pictures of most things, but its greatest collection is of food shots. So if you’re running a restaurant or catering company, or you’re just a big food fan, this is the website for you.
All the high resolution pictures on DesignerPics are given free of copyright by photographer, web designer and developer Jeshu John. The gallery isn’t huge but the website provides a search feature, and images are split into categories which is always handy.
One of the most comprehensive directories of free-stock images, FreeImages is the place to go if you’re working on website projects. While a lot of stock-photo website focus on a specific topic of photo (most of them being landscapes) this website offers thousands of pictures from a diverse set of categories.
8. Public Domain Archive
Providing both vintage and modern scenic photos, Public Domain Archive have an expansive online collection of images, a lot of them with striking symmetry and muted colours.
This site features the work of a variety of different photographers. It’s easy to find what you need as the images are grouped into various categories. A great thing about Magdeleine is that not only can you search by keyword but also category, type of license and colour. Being able to search for colour is handy when you need an image that will blend with existing elements on your website.
While all images on this site are free, some require attribution. Be sure to check the license of the image you want.
One of the simplest sites on this list, MorgueFile has a streamlined layout and carefully curated list of free photos that you can use for both commercial and non-commercial projects. The selection here isn’t as large as some of the other websites on this list, but the photos included cover a wide range of topics. So if you need an image for a blog post, website or email newsletter, just use the search box to find your perfect free image.
Attributions and licenses explained
When you search for an image on Google, the resulting photos aren’t usually ones that you’re free to use. In most cases, the photos still have the photographer’s copyrights.
If you want photos to use for design and want to keep yourself out of copyright trouble, you need to find websites that explicitly define the copyright license for each image. For all the sites I have listed here, the license is generally pretty easy to find. There’s usually a description of the license on every page or at least a link to a description. These are the two license types you’re likely to find on these sites:
Creative Commons zero means that you can use the images in however you’d like, without asking permission.
Creative Commons with attribution means that you can use the image however you want, as long as you credit the creator of the photo.
Attribution is simple: Just add text by the image you’re using that cites the photographer (e.g. Photo by Tom Smith) and include a link to his or her site if there is one.