Creative Internet

The Top 15 Sites for Copyright and Royalty-Free Images

Gavin Phillips Updated 20-05-2020

Maybe you’re an aspiring photographer looking for inspiration. Or an up-and-coming entrepreneur trying to find stock photography to add to your website.

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Whatever your profession, this list of the best stock photography websites will ensure that you’ll always have access to copyright and royalty-free images.

How Do Copyright Free Images Work?

Some websites allow you to download pictures for private use (e.g. background wallpapers) yet disallow images to be used commercially. This includes instances such as business cards, websites, or posters. The images on the following websites have protection 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.

creative commons license
Image Credit: WikiImages

Before delving into the free stock image sites, there are two common courtesies to consider when using CC0 images.

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  • Although you do not have to give credit to the creator, we recommend that you do to publicize the artists’ efforts.
  • These websites often have a Donate page or splash screen. If you use free image hosting sites often, consider donating to their cause. If everyone using a copyright-free image site threw in the price of a coffee, it would greatly benefit the photographers and artists offering their wares for free.

Now that that’s cleared up, here are the websites you need to bookmark for quality, copyright-free images.

1. Freerange

freerange copyright free images

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.

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2. Unsplash

City Photography Unsplash
Image Credit: Patrick Tomasso/Unsplash

Unsplash is a side-project started by Crew, an online marketing agency dedicated to making your design dreams a reality.

Besides providing free stock photography, Unsplash also showcases graphic design work done by users with its MadeWith section.

Although Unsplash started as a side project, it is now one of the best copyright free image sites around. Hence why it doesn’t feature on our list of lesser-known free stock image sites 5 Lesser-Known Free Stock Image Sites for Images That Stick Out These lesser-known stock photography sites are just as good as any of the popular ones. Try them for royalty-free images that are completely free. Read More .

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3. Pexels

Mountain Range And Clouds Pexels
Image Credit: eberhard grossgasteiger/Pexels

Pexels is a website that wants to help. Started in 2015, it has grown to be 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

Pexels is also unique in that it doesn’t only display images located on the Pexels website. It also outsources images from other high-quality websites such as Little Visuals.

Best of all, Pexels screens its images to ensure the highest quality images available. Note that you can also download copyright-free stock videos The Top 6 Websites for Quality Copyright-Free Stock Videos When you need stock video, you don't want to break the bank to get it. These sites provide high-quality stock videos that are completely free. Read More from the site.

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4. Flickr

Run Down House Flickr
Image Credit: Bernard Spragg/Flickr

Although Flickr is not dedicated to public domain images, it boasts 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 millions of high-quality public domain images, you’re unlikely to run out of stock photography anytime soon.

There are always new features appearing over at Flickr, too. For instance, you can now order photo prints directly from Flickr You Can Now Order Photo Prints From Flickr Flickr's new feature takes the pain out of ordering photo prints, allowing you to order photo prints in just a few clicks. Read More .

5. Life of Pix

Skyscraper Architecture Photography Life Of Pix
Image Credit: Tuur Tisseghem/Life of Pix

You can easily lose yourself for hours scouring through the beautiful copyright-free pictures available on Life of Pix.

Created by the LEEROY advertising agency in Montreal, Life of Pix is a haven for free, public domain photography. Better yet, its Life of Vids website contains even more impressive stock video footage, alla available for free.

6. StockSnap

Sunset Photography StockSnap
Image Credit: Asaf R/StockSnap

StockSnap provides an excellent and extensive library of 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.

7. Pixabay

Old Painting Of General Pixabay
Image Credit: WikiImages/Pixabay

Pixabay is another image repository that integrates images from other image hosting sites. It attempts 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 beginners and professional photographers alike.

8. Wikimedia

Presidential Photography Wikimedia
Image Credit: Cecil Stoughton, White House Press Office (WHPO)/Wikimedia

Wikimedia provides a truly stunning image repository, spanning everything from lush landscapes to historical events.

Touting over 34 million freely usable pieces of 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.

9. Burst

Nature Photography Of Fish Burst
Image Credit: Ryan Bruce/Burst

They say something works well when you hardly notice it at all, and that’s exactly what Burst provides. In the same vein as Unsplash, Burst not only provides a sleek interface to explore but a very wide selection of images and categories to choose from as well.

Better yet, it provides both low- and high-quality images without copyright, depending on whether you’re adding images to a website or using images for graphic design.

If you need a vast online repository of free high-quality images, bookmark Burst immediately.

10. KaboomPics

Classic Car Photography KaboomPics
Image Credit: KaboomPics

KaboomPics is a legitimately impressive undertaking. From the UI design to the vast reservoir or stellar images, you will find yourself combing through images you don’t even need.

If it was just about royalty-free images, KaboomPics’ selection would already be top of the class. But it also features both a color picker search engine and color palettes for images as well.

That’s just scratching the surface of what KaboomPics has to offer. From photoshoots to informative blog entries, it’s one of the most impressive free stock image sites around.

11. Vintage Stock Photos

vintage stock photos copyright free images

The team behind Freerange also operates another free site specializing in vintage images, called Vintage Stock Photos. The content previously required payment, but now you can find thousands of dollars’ worth of quality vintage photos available at no extra charge.

Vintage Stock Photos is another site where you can lose serious time browsing through the catalog. The range of copyright-free images spans multiple decades and provides a fantastic snapshot of life through the ages.

12. Gratisography

gratisography copyright free images

Are you looking for something a little more out there? Do you need a quirky free high-resolution photo? Then Gratisography is the place for you.

The site features a heap of “quirky… beautiful… arresting” copyright-free images that will enable you to put a unique spin on your next project.

13. Libreshot

libreshot copyright free images

Libreshot is another handy source for slightly unusual free stock photography. Every shot on the site is the work of owner Martin Vorel.

Vorel uploads his brilliant photography from around the world to Libreshot, allowing you to use them for free. He only asks that if you do use one of his photos, consider adding a link to the site.

14. Negative Space

negative space copyright free images

Negative Space offers up thousands of beautiful royalty-free images for you, covering a comprehensive range of categories. Like some of the other top copyright-free image sites, you can search Negative Space using the color of the image you want, rather than a specific search term or category.

New free images are added all the time, so make sure to bookmark Negative Space for your next project.

15. Reshot

reshot copyright free images

Your final option for royalty-free stock images is the excellent Reshot. If you want truly unique stock images, Reshot is one of your best options.

The development and creative team vet each copyright-free shot uploaded to the site, ensuring only the best of the best are available to you. That means the standard of photography on show at Reshot is very high—and that will be reflected in your work, too.

Look at the quality on offer in my casual search term, “eggs,” pictured above. There are some brilliant high-resolution shots there.

More Copyright-Free Media for You to Use

With so many sites dedicated to bringing you high-quality stock images for free, you may feel overwhelmed with choice.

However, we recommend focusing on the one site that most appeals, and browsing the range of copyright-free images available until you find something that appeals.

If you’re a budding YouTuber, you should check out the best sites for copyright-free music for YouTube videos 5 Sites to Download Free and Copyright-Free Music for YouTube Videos Don't use music in Youtube videos from a copyrighted source. Instead, use one of these sites for copyright-free music. Read More .

Explore more about: Image Editing Tips, Image Editor, Image Search, Photography, Stock Photos.

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  1. QuestionUnanswered
    September 7, 2019 at 11:28 pm

    Awesomely helpful compilation. Thanks

  2. Anand Singh
    April 7, 2019 at 11:13 am

    thanks for sharing

  3. Eduardo
    August 25, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    My favorite place for free, royalty free images is FreerangeStock. I even have an account with them:
    freerangestock.com/view_photog.php?photogid=2419

  4. KRISHNENDU MANDAL
    May 20, 2017 at 11:25 pm

    Thanks very nice information. I am using snappa images for my blog. Awesome

  5. Anita
    April 22, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    Thanks for mentioning Pixabay :)
    BTW, please update the list of free stock photos: http://veroling.pl/darmowe-zdjecia-uzytek-komercyjny/ Quite a few appeared on the market since this article was published.

  6. vinh
    February 13, 2017 at 9:12 am

    great guys, many useful stuff

  7. vinh
    February 13, 2017 at 9:11 am

    great. thanks

  8. Emelia
    February 7, 2017 at 11:51 pm

    cool intel you have at this point how anyone's opinion on here web site
    with regards to case clicker 2 hack no download

  9. Franck
    November 15, 2016 at 10:57 pm

    Hi,
    Just to let you know that I'm sharing more than 4000 downloadable photos on Flickr, all available for free under the CC0 license :
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/cc0/
    Franck

  10. J.
    November 8, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    Thank you for this found just what I was looking for, it took of doing buyt I've a great image and am making it into a Wattpad book cover.

  11. stockword
    September 2, 2016 at 7:16 am

    stockword.net
    100000 free "signs" images

  12. Hemantkumar
    August 15, 2016 at 9:17 am

    Hey John...!!
    Thanks for this awesome info, you have made it really easy to understand. I'm sure it will help out lots of people looking for free stock photos sites.

    Thank You :)

  13. Anna Phipps
    June 12, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    Theres also Pixabay

  14. Anonymous
    November 7, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Great Post!! In http://bookgraphy.com/free-images you can download thousands of high quality free photos, available for personal and commercial use with model an property releases.

    • tony
      August 31, 2016 at 7:40 am

      This is not free

    • John
      September 1, 2016 at 5:57 pm

      Hi Tony!
      Please, check it again. ALL this images are FREE!! And are thousands!!
      Click on the images and you will see it.

      • AL
        October 22, 2019 at 2:57 am

        Bullshit, not free, it's scam !!

  15. Mihir Patkar
    September 8, 2015 at 11:48 am

    This is actually really cool! Are you hand-picking the photos every day?

    But I don't see high-res versions of the photos. Since it's CC0, I assume there is no attribution needed for these?

    • Anonymous
      September 16, 2015 at 5:21 pm

      Yes Mihir ..that is correct . Bit by bit we would like make it a big success :)

  16. Anonymous
    August 2, 2015 at 1:56 am

    I use http://www.bitpine.com its fast and has tons of cc0 and public domain photos and designs

  17. freeimagebay
    May 4, 2015 at 11:49 am

    http://freeimagebay.com is a great place to find free images without copyright restrictions and no registration requirements. New images are added daily.

  18. John Deevy
    March 17, 2015 at 2:04 am

    For completely free photos for personal and commercial use with no attribution required check out http://www.upicm.com Great images and most are not available elsewhere.

  19. Tobias
    February 11, 2015 at 8:51 am

    http://creativecommons.photos is olso a great website for find creative commons photos. The images are licensed under Public Domain license, so they are free for use.

  20. ?ooper
    December 13, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Here are the most recent:

    d92240e2ef4fe7fe18c8b088639001393eb02082
    e236913c355cc3d5b772197f4e5b9630b53cb204
    0befca400b56b17c975369b60e39c95981f5e517

  21. ?ooper
    December 11, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    Invitations to quickly understand. Here are the most recent:

    7646012a4f1eb853f5f6699b0b42f365e598fb00
    d7d9a53db659e7d8ffe0c4b27d100a1426d84c6d

  22. ?ooper
    December 10, 2014 at 9:10 am

    Free photostocks – it’s good. But they definitely lose paid. Shutterstock istokphoto and – apart from the competition. However, all this is expensive. But there is one site that helps all who wish to download at a substantial discount from pay photostocks. This site is called shopdiz.biz. Several times used the services of the site – everything honestly.However, registration on this site – only for an invite. Here are three free invitation:

    946fdb8b7a5ee846cf94ec455b4092ac45de0ae7
    d458147465c935cfcd423abf95630d722c53db05
    706326f64ca49aeca3ecd024eded80b7dbb7f98c

  23. Michael Garmahis
    January 9, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    My version of Top 10 Free Stock Photos Sites

  24. dissertation
    December 20, 2009 at 10:01 am

    Excellent web site the great work don keep it up

  25. Sacha
    December 12, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Number 6:
    other free quality photo on niffylux
    http://www.niffylux.com

  26. AllOurStock
    October 29, 2009 at 12:59 am

    Plug here, but I really think you’ll like this one. It’s a completely 100% free stock photo, design and vector website.

    Our site, allourstock.com is not spammy, it’s built around a nice, easy-to-use functional layout with easy drag-and-drop interface, and has a lot more planned for the future. Currently we have about 500 images but we have a database of over 7000 yet to be added and growing everyday. I personally shoot photos myself and create custom designs as well. All are available for person OR commercial use, most of which do not require attribution.

    check us out on twitter as well, http://www.twitter.com/AllOurStock

  27. G.A.L.E.S.L.
    September 10, 2009 at 10:31 am

    (BTW the above and below comments are just about reuse permission, I haven't yet had time to check the quality and variety of the photos themselves)

    Some of the sites mentioned in the comments:

    Morguefile - NOT copyright-free actually, but a very permissive license, so I'm pretty sure I can use their stock. Allows commercial use, no crediting required. Looks like I might be using Freerange and Morguefile.

    Photovaco - minimal info on their site, basically just this from their front page:

    We provide free stock photos with high resolution for both personal and commercial projects. You can use our free photos in websites, video, TV production, forum, blogs, school projects and print medias including newspapers, magazine, books, CD covers. OK, let's say, you can download, edit and use all photos anywhere and anyhow you like except for abuse.

    Fotolia - as original poster said, you have to pay. Yes, the prices are probably reasonable for many people, but I would have to pay out of my own pocket, which rules it out for me.

  28. G.A.L.E.S.L.
    September 10, 2009 at 10:15 am

    I create online exercises for use through an LMS, for a private university that charges tuition. So I appreciate sites with photos that allow commercial use, and thanks for these links.

    Some comments upon further investigation of these sites.

    Freerange - NOT copyright-free actually, but a very permissive license, so I'm pretty sure I can use their stock. From their license page:

    License Summary: You can do nearly anything with the images, commercial or not. Just don't redistribute them - this means don't host the images or repackage them, just post a link and let others download them, just as you did.

    {i.e. you can't make your own clone of freerange, imo}

    Stockvault - NOT copyright-free actually, CC BY-NC-SA license. Poison for my situation: no commercial use (e.g. private university that charges tuition), viral Share Alike clause.

    Freedigitalphotos - NOT copyright-free actually, but a fairly permissive license, so I can use their stock if I provide a credit and hyperlink to their website.

    Stock.xchng - NOT copyright-free actually, but with somewhat permissive licenses. I've used their stuff before, thinking all I had to do was credit Stock.xchng. But upon further research it seems a little more complicated than that. First, photos are covered by a variety of restrictions; most of them are "Standard restrictions", which are the ones I used. But some have more restrictions: be careful.
    Secondly, the usage summary seems to indicate I have to credit each individual artist (not the site) AND notify them too. That would a *real* pain for me.

    Flickr CC content - NOT copyright-free actually, but with a variety of Creative Commons licenses. Of the 5 licenses there, the ony one I'm sure I can use is the CC Attribution License (BY). And that requires me to credit each individual artist per their requirements. A pain.

    In short, none of these sites are offering truly copyright-free photos (i.e. public domain). But they all offer copyrighted photos with a license allowing some re-use if you comply with certain conditions.
    For me, the "free-est" is Freerange (commercial use, no crediting required) and I think I'll be using it in future.
    Next comes Freedigitalphoto, which requires a credit & link just to the site.
    Flickr & stock.xchng offer some possibilities but frankly the requirement to credit each individual artist (or even notify them!) means I won't bother.
    And Stockvault is out of the question for me: not only no commerical use, but also the viral "Share Alike" factor that means the exercises I make that include such a photo also become CC BY-NC-SA. My employers would not be happy with that!

    Please note I'm not an expert, so my understanding may be wrong. And please note that I have specific needs; yours may differ, so a license that's bad for me might be good for you.

  29. Online Cash
    July 30, 2009 at 3:47 am

    Its a great collection of lovely photographs available online. I always look for some useful photos for my website, now you made my task easier by providing these websites.

  30. Yvette Francino
    July 29, 2009 at 7:22 am

    Great list! I've been looking for this! Thanks!

  31. UPrinting
    July 29, 2009 at 2:18 am

    Cool! Thanks for sharing these sites. After all, no one wants to be accused of being a photo thief... if there's such thing!
    Have you heard of http://www.sxc.hu?

  32. Tim Lenahan
    July 29, 2009 at 6:32 am

    Is Morguefile.com down for the count?

  33. Andy Commons
    July 27, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    I enjoy http://www.fotolia.com. Not free, but $1 - $3 for photos I can legally use in my websites.

    • Aristarkhos
      July 29, 2009 at 5:47 am

      I agree with Andy. Fotolia suits those who are willing to pay a very nominal amount for their images. Legal and economical. The image gallery is very good too.

  34. Tim Lenahan
    July 27, 2009 at 8:56 am

    OOPs, seems Morguefile's down! "morgueFile is experiencing technical difficulties, we are working on the problem." - straight from the site!

  35. Keith Kmett
    July 27, 2009 at 7:27 am

    I second Morguefile.com for great high-res shots!

  36. Tim Lenahan
    July 27, 2009 at 6:24 am

    How 'bouts Morguefile.com?

  37. Lee
    July 27, 2009 at 2:55 am

    Nice sharing. Great post. You can share your article at: ArticlePinger.com to gain more views.

  38. Tristan Bethe
    July 27, 2009 at 2:53 am

    You might want to check out imageafter.com as well. Free for use in commercial projects

  39. Patrick Braga
    July 26, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    EveryStockPhoto.com is also a great free resource for stock photos.