Everyone enjoys free stuff, especially when that free stuff can be used to help earn you money. For bloggers and marketers, the sheer bulk of content they must produce to keep up with the competition is staggering. The time and money required to produce all of your own images would be prohibitive to most small companies. Free stock photo sites can solve this problem.
Stock image sites such as Getty and Shutterstock offer high quality images in a huge array of styles and themes, but the cost adds up quickly. So, we wanted to share a dozen of our favourite sites that offer free stock images. We’ll be sharing them in two parts, here are the first six.
Be sure to educate yourself to the various types of image license and investigate each site’s requirements for attribution, permission and usage limitations. While it may not happen often, even bloggers using supposedly “free” images have found themselves in trouble. It pays to be informed.
With a stripped down user interface that makes the images the star of the site, Unsplash features an impressive, if small, collection of art images, suitable for high end use and presented under the Creative Commons Zero license. The images here can be used for nearly any purpose, including resale, without attribution or permission. The catalog is divided into loosely themed “collections” each with a sample image, indicative of the contents. High quality, beautiful images are added weekly. This would be a good source for header and background images. No premium content.
Freeimages is a fairly typical stock image site, with a large collection of free images, and a subscription side filled with premium content. The free images are neatly arranged in 26 categories, some featuring as many as 50,000 pictures. Free content here is subject to the same license limitations as the premium content, so be sure to read the license before publishing content using their images. Premium content is served up via an affiliate link from Getty images, one of the most extensive, and expensive collections online.
If hipsters use stock images, this is where they go to find them. With a funky, artistic flair, deathtostockphotos (bonus points for the name) has no searchable database, or catalog. Instead, a free subscription lands hand-picked free images in your email weekly. The images they do let us see are eclectic and beautifully shot. There is a premium subscription with 95 photo packs, (1200+ images) and a new pack every two weeks, for either $15 a month or $180 for full access for one year.
PicJumbo is a hybrid “freemium” site with a decent sized collection of original work, over a thousand free images. Their premium subscription nets you an “all in one” pack that features all of the free images, plus for $10-$40 a month, receive new image packs with at least 30 new images per month. The PicJumbo catalog is filled with bright, clean, professional images suitable for mainstream use as blog illustrations, website content, or for marketing. Images are free to use, as long as they are not redistributed as a primary product.
StockSnap, is a totally free image site, free from restrictions on use under the Creative Commons Zero license. Images are very high quality and searchable by keyword. Images can also be sorted by what is trending or by popular searches. There is no premium content, but the site does feature a free email subscription for new images.
Startup stock photos is a small, photo blog collection of images created for marketing by a single startup. Most images feature technology in modern, somewhat edgy office settings. Worth a look if you want casual business images of people at work, but rather uninspiring for much else. The collection is offered free from restriction, but isn’t searchable, featuring a blog layout that requires you to scroll through to view images.
In cases where premium content is required to get that just right image, look to sites that offer monthly subscriptions for the best value. We recommend starting with Dreamstime, #12 on our list, if cost is a high priority. They offer one of the most versatile download and subscription rate plans online.
This beautiful site is the curated image collection of Leeroy advertising agency out of Montreal Canada. The collection features hundreds of large format, high resolution images, offered free for your use. The Creative Commons license has designated these works as public domain, meaning they are available for any purpose whatsoever. New images are added weekly and the catalog is searchable by keyword.
The Pexels collection is a high quality freemium site featuring images under the Creative Commons Zero license, for use up to and including resale. Explore the collection in a variety of ways, through keyword search, or select the “discover photos” option for a categorized view. With 100 images added daily, the Pexels catalog has something for everyone, including a free stock video page. There is no premium content.
Gratisography features the work of photographer Ryan McGuire. The colourful, fun and whimsical images here are perfect for the designer or writer with a sense of humour. While a fair sampling of more traditional images are included, many of the pictures here have cartoonish elements, even being manipulated to exaggerate that effect in many cases. Images are offered under Creative Commons Zero license, but Ryan asks they not be used for anything that might embarrass him or his models.
This site is the art photography blog of photographer, Jay Mantri. The collection features strong graphic images of still life, nature, landscape and architecture. The quality of the images and the uniqueness of his subjects makes the necessary scrolling through this traditional blog style site worth the hunt. Images here are ideal for backgrounds, headers and covers.
Possibly the largest freemium collection online, the Pixabay catalog encompasses over 3/4 of a million images. The site is one of the best organized as well, with excellent categories and a powerful search feature. In addition to photos, Pixabay also offers illustrations and vector images, along with stock video. The premium Shutterstock images offered along with your download selections are typically themed to match and offer some alternatives in a paid version. Pixabay offers the Creative Commons Zero license.
Dreamstime is one of the largest premium stock image suppliers online. Their free collection is worth the time to peruse and their flexible download “credits” system, makes them one of the most affordable pay sites as well. You’ll need to sign up for a free account to access the free images, which are neatly arranged in categories and fully searchable. The Dreamstime collection is subject to the same licensing as their premium content, so be sure you read the fine print.
Pikwizard is an excellent addition to the stock photography family. It holds over 100,000 high-quality images, with 20,000 that are completely exclusive to the site. There is also no attribution required. What makes Pikwizard stand out from the rest is its high-quality images of people, which are few and far between on the best stock photography sites. You can also take each image on Pikwizard and edit them on graphic design tool, Design Wizard.