Photos and images have copyrights. If you want to use an image, you need permission from the photographer or employ other legal ways to use a photo. The easiest free option is to use a royalty-free image.
The internet is full of amazing stock photography sites that give you such free images. You’ve probably heard of the more popular ones like Pexels, Unsplash, and Pixabay. But everyone goes there! So if you want to stand out from the crowd, you need images from places that most people don’t know about.
These lesser-known stock photography sites are just as good as any of the popular ones. But since you are one of the lucky few MakeUseOf readers to know about them, chances are that they will be unique in your circles.
1. UnDraw: Illustrations for Designs and Mockups in SVG Format
Whether you’re designing a new app or creating a PowerPoint presentation, a few good illustrations can really spruce things up. SVG, or Scalable Vector Graphics, is the most popular format for that. And UnDraw is a resource for such free, hand-drawn illustrations.
All of the graphics on the site are completely free and don’t even require an attribution, so you can include them without any linkbacks or credits. Since every file is in the SVG format, you can resize it to make it as large as you want, even large enough to print billboards out of it.
And SVG also makes the color palette customizable, so you can change the colors to your liking. Or pick a color and UnDraw will show illustrations to match it.
UnDraw is a shockingly good site for the number of clean illustrations it offers for free. In fact, it’s better than most of the high-quality vector art sites you already know. Designers and app developers will especially love these since they can be a template to create something magnificent.
2. Moose: Professional Photographers and Models Make Stock Photos
Usually, stock photography is all about cheesy images or amateur photography. But Moose takes a different approach, with professionals in both the photography and modeling spheres.
Moose’s aim is to make stock photos that you can ideally use together. That’s why you will often find different pictures with a similar background, or the same model in different settings, and so on. The lighting is also kept as static as possible so that you can Photoshop two pictures into one without it being jarring.
At any point, you can sort Moose by the category of photos, the models, or the photographers. All the pictures are free to use as long as you link back to Moose with accreditation, or you can buy the picture and not link or attribute it.
3. Clipstill: Free Cinemagraphs to Stun Your Viewers
Cinemagraphs are images with one small part of the scene in motion. It’s a visually stunning end result, adding just that little bit of action to bring the photo to life. Cinemagraphs are a creative way to use animated GIFs, and now you can get a few for free.
Clipstill all about paid stock cinemagraphs, but every month, it offers six high-quality items for free. It’s probably a good idea to download these for the future since the site will change those as time goes on.
Of course, it’s only six. So here’s another lesser-known site with ten more royalty-free, attribution-free stock cinemagraphs. Over at Free Cinemagraphs, the makers took free stock video footage and turned them into cinemagraphic GIFs.
4. Reshot: A New Alternative to Unsplash
Since it first launched, Unsplash has become a stock photography darling. We’d go so far as to say that it’s the best site for guaranteed free-to-use high-quality images. But it has also become a bit boring, and you will see images from the site used in many places.
Reshot, in some ways, is the new Unsplash. It too has images that are manually curated by its staff, so you will only get good quality photos, not a bunch of nonsense. Importantly, Reshot seems to scour through a lot of other stock photography sources that Unsplash doesn’t, so its collection is markedly different. If you’re bored of Unsplash or its search is giving you the same results, Reshot is a breath of fresh air.
Importantly, Reshot offers a “Diversity Matters” pack with photos that celebrate all the diversity in humans, be it race, age, sex, or whatever else. This is guaranteed to make your pictures look more inclusive and connect with a wider audience.
5. Librestock: Multi-Site Search for Stock Photos
Many of the popular stock photography sites are actually aggregators. Both Pixabay and Pexels feature plenty of imagery from other sources. So now we have a “super-aggregator” in Librestock, which searches through several of these existing aggregators.
Librestock searches Stocksnap, Negative Space, Picography, ISO Republic, Gratisography, Shotstash, Pexels, and Foodie Factor. The thumbnails are large enough to give you a good look at the image before you go to the host site, saving you a few of those back-and-forth clicks.
Librestock also has a section for video search to help you find quality copyright-free stock footage, searching the best sites that cater to videos instead of images.
A Lot More Than Just Stock Images…
Speaking of videos, the whole “stock media” space is much larger than just photography. And it’s not just these big aggregators. Individual artists often put up their work for free so that anyone in the world can use it.
To get started, check out these sites to find stock audio, video, images, and icons. You won’t be disappointed!