Maybe you’re an aspiring photographer looking for inspiration. Perhaps an up-and-coming entrepreneur trying to find stock photography to add to your website. Whatever your profession, it’s never a bad idea to have some stock photography websites at your disposal. That’s why we’ve compiled the five best stock photography websites online to ensure that you have access to millions of free stock images instantly.
We’ve even included three bonus sites. Read all the way to the end to check them out! They go great with these free clip art download sites, which you may also find useful when you need something other than photographs.
How Free Is Free?
There’s a question of how free “free” is. Some websites allow you to download pictures for private use — e.g. background wallpapers — but will disallow images for commercial use. This includes instances as business cards, websites, or posters. The websites below are protected under Creative Commons CC0.
The person who associated a work with this deed has dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law. — CreativeCommons.org
The following websites either support, or are fully composed of, CC0 images available in the public domain. The owners of these images have allowed users to modify, edit, and use their images without copyright backlash.
Two things concerning common courtesy when using CC0 images. One, although you do not have to give credit to the creator, it’s recommended that you do in order to publicize the artists’ efforts. Two, these websites often have a Donate page or splash screen. If you use free image hosting sites often, consider donating to their cause.
Once you register for a free membership at Freerange, thousands of high-resolution stock photos will be at your fingertips at no cost. All of the website’s images can be used for personal or commercial projects. For photographers, Freerange also offers Google AdSense revenue sharing when you contribute.
In addition to thousands of unique images, the site also has about 20,000 CC0 photos, most of which have accurate keywords and descriptions.
The team behind the project has also launched another free site specializing in vintage images called Vintage Stock Photos. The content previously required payment, but now you can find more than $25,000 worth of quality vintage photos for no charge.
Unsplash is a side-project started by Crew, an online marketing agency dedicated to making your design dreams a reality.
Pexels is a website that wants to help. Started in 2015, it has grown to develop a reputable stock photo library. Its mission statement phrases their aim best.
We help millions of designers, writers, artists, programmers and other creators to get access to beautiful photos that they can use freely which empowers them to create amazing products, designs, stories, websites, apps, art and other work. We call it: “Empowering Creators” — Pexels.com
Best of all, Pexels screens their images to ensure the highest quality images available. Note that you can also download high quality stock videos through the site.
Although Flickr is not dedicated to public domain images, they have an extensive library of high-quality public domain images.
Flickr is, and has been for a long time, one of the greatest image libraries on the internet. With over 3 million, high-quality public domain images alone, I doubt you’ll run out of stock photography anytime soon.
5. Life of Pix
I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve spent hours at a time scouring through the beautiful pictures on Life of Pix.
Created by LEEROY advertising agency in Montreal, Life of Pix is a haven for free, public domain photography. Better yet, their Life of Vids website contains even more impressive stock video footage, completely for free!
BONUS 1: StockSnap
StockSnap provides an excellent and extensive library for free stock imagery. With hundreds of high-quality photos added weekly, StockSnap isn’t your casual photography outlet.
Created by the good people at Snappa, every single image in StockSnap is free for you to use. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better image repository.
BONUS 2: Pixabay
Pixabay is another image repository which integrates images from other image hosting sites. They attempt to gather the very best of free stock images for your own personal or commercial use.
Pixabay also allows easy access to camera search, which allows users to explore images based on the camera used to take them. This is a great resource for both beginner and professional photographers alike.
BONUS 3: Wikimedia
Wikimedia provides a truly stunning image repository, spanning everything from lush landscapes to historical events.
Touting over 34,000,000 freely usable media, including videos and sounds, Wikimedia is a necessity for graphic designers, photographers, and artists looking for free, high-quality images. Wikimedia is also part of a much larger organization dedicated to free images, education, and information.
Watermarks Be Damned!
Through the concerted effort of a select few, it’s now easier than ever to view, enjoy, and use high-quality stock photography for free. Remember, there are some measures of common courtesy that shouldn’t be avoided for the benefit of the creators. That said, enjoy the best, free stock photography the online world has to offer!
And if these turn out to be unsatisfactory, you should really consider using a top-tier stock image site like Shutterstock. It may cost money, but you’ll love the quality and variety offered.