To make websites visually appealing, high-quality images are essential. If you’re creating sites for multiple clients, having access to various such images regularly is crucial.
Of course, you can pay for premium stock libraries. But if your budget is tight, that might not be a realistic option. Thankfully, there are many websites where you can download free stock photos, many of which are really good! With the help of the websites listed below, you might never have to pay for stock photos again.
Unless otherwise stated, the following rules usually apply to most of these sites:
- You can download and use the photos for free, even for commercial purposes.
- You don’t need to ask permission to use the photos.
- You cannot sell the photos without making significant modifications.
- You cannot compile the photos to create a similar stock photo service.
- You must not create physical products with images printed on them.
- Photos cannot depict identifiable people negatively or offensively.
- The photos cannot be used to suggest that the image creator or any person or product in the image is endorsing something.
- You must not use the photos for unlawful purposes or pornography.
Also, there may be other situations where you need to be careful. For example, you might need their permission if the photo contains an identifiable person, brand logo, or private property. If you are unsure, please check the license of the particular photo library.
🏆 Best for bright, colorful images of people with various facial expressions.
Freepik was founded in 2010 by Alejandro and Pablo Blanes, along with Joaquín Cuenca, who founded Panoramio. Alejandro had the idea to create a platform offering free graphic resources for designers, and with the support of Pablo and Joaquín, Freepik Company was established.
Freepik now has a vast collection of images, with as many as 4.76 million available. However, not all of these are photos, as the site also provides non-photographic images. Additionally, despite the site’s name, not all images are free.
Freepik is excellent for bright, colorful images that stand out. I particularly like their images of people with various facial expressions, and I often use them in my online projects. However, many other types of photos are in multiple categories, such as Nature, Think Pink, Bakery Delights, Online Marketing, Graphic Designer, Fashion, and more.
I’m not the only one who thinks Freepik is excellent, as it has an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars from 106 reviews on g2.com.
A word of warning, though: Unlike many other free stock photo libraries, Freepik requires that you credit them when using any of their images. Additionally, their license forbids using their pictures for machine learning and/or artificial intelligence purposes.
🏆 An excellent, general-purpose stock photo site with many different types of free photos.
Unsplash was established as a Tumblr blog in 2013 but has since evolved into a prominent visual community. It has inspired famous writers such as Deepak Chopra, big corporations like Apple, and millions of creators worldwide.
Unsplash is one of the most popular free stock photo libraries, with an average score of 4.7 out of 5 stars from 84 reviews on g2.com. Unsplash has more than one million free images which you can search. You can also browse various collections, such as Winterscapes, Light Tones, Yoga, Spring, Easter, Eco, Pizza, etc.
🏆 Best for food, sea, fashion, art, and animal photos.
Pexels was founded in Germany in 2014 by Bruno and Ingo Joseph, with Daniel Frese joining the following year. The company’s mission is to provide millions of creators access to beautiful photos they can use for free, allowing them to create incredible designs, products, websites, stories, art, apps, and other works. This mission is known as “Empowering Creators.”
Pexels offers a selection of popular searches, such as Dog, Abstract, Car, Sunset, and Nature. You can also explore photos by color themes. Additionally, there is a leaderboard of top photographers, and you can find some excellent video clips.
Pexels is a popular free stock photos site, with an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars from 89 reviews on g2.com.
🏆 Best for photos of women, fashion, nature, and travel.
Burst is an open-source image library from Shopify, a multi-channel commerce platform trusted by popular brands like Red Bull, Nestle, and Kylie Cosmetics. However, you don’t have to be a Shopify customer to use it.
The free images are organized into collections such as Mental Health, Work From Home, Business, Fashion, Landscape, Food, Feel Good Photos, etc. One thing that confuses me is that there are 2619 photos in the Women category but only 456 photos in the People category.
Burst is a popular free stock photo library, with an average score of 4.6 out of 5 stars from 42 reviews on g2.com.
🏆 Best for photos of animals, flowers, landscapes, and people.
Pixabay was founded in 2010 in Germany by Hans Braxmeier and Simon Steinberger. Their team has three additional people who manage Pexels’ marketing and image quality control.
If you want to browse some of the best photos quickly, it’s worth looking at their Editor’s Choice section. Alternatively, several curated collections such as Wild Animals, Lifestyle, Ocean, Love, and Flowers exist.
Pixabay has an average rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars from 152 reviews on g2.com.
🏆 Best for quirky, fun images.
Founded by photographer and artist Ryan McGuire over a decade ago in 2011, Gratisography is a resource for free pictures that can be downloaded and used without charge or attribution for personal or commercial projects. McGuire is a long-time photographer passionate about creating community through art, making his work available to the world for friendship, unique collaborations, and happy faces.
As soon as you browse the images on Gratisography, you will realize it’s full of quirky, fun images. This is also reflected in the collection titles: Funky Food, Hijinks Hands, Whimsical Women, Mischievous Men, Goofy Grownups, and Artsy Architecture.
🏆 Best for high-quality historic photos.
New Old Stock contains some fascinating images from the past. For example, here is a photo of NASA flight director Eugene F. Kranz in 1965 leading up to the Gemini-Titan 4 mission:
Or how about this photo of gold mining in New England sometime around 1900:
You can browse through the photos and download them for free. Alternatively, you can download some curated sets for a small price.
However, you need to check when downloading individual photos, as the original images are on Flickr, and some might have restrictions. For example, some photos might not be allowed for commercial use, and you may need to provide attribution.
🏆 Best for photos of food.
Foodiesfeed is the place to go for eye-catching photos of food and drink. And these aren’t all just your usual, run-of-the-mill images of food on plates or in bowls. Many are artistically created, often captured while being thrown into the air. But all the food is photographed so expertly that it’s hard to believe these images are free.
🏆 Best for photos of space, nature, landscapes, and colorful artistic images.
Negative Space has an interesting collection of free photos arranged into various categories. Some categories of particular note are:
- Space has some breathtaking images of planets and the night sky.
- Nature has some expertly crafted closeup shots of flowers and insects.
- Landscapes has some stunning scenery that will make you want to go traveling.
- Art & Design is bursting with color.
- Abstract contains a colorful array of interesting shapes and patterns.
🏆 Best for photos of people and nature.
ISO Republic has an inspiring selection of free photos. There are a few particularly noteworthy collections:
- Designer’s Toolkit — a range of artistic backgrounds and flat-lay images to enable creators to present their work.
- Spirit of Entrepreneurship — a selection of business and technology-related images.
- Women Taking the Lead — powerful female images, including businesswomen, parents, and independent women.
Other popular categories include Food, People, Nature, and Landscape.
🏆 Best for photos of business, people, food, and nature.
Stocksnap was founded in 2015 in Canada by Christopher Gimmer. Since then, it has grown to be full of many high-quality images.
You can browse the Trending page if you are unsure what you are looking for. Alternatively, you can look through the popular categories such as Business, Beach, Love, Nature, People, Food, etc.
🏆 Best for photos of nature, people, food, and technology.
Picjumbo was founded in 2013 in the Czech Republic by photographer Viktor Hanacek. It now features many excellent photos in the business, Nature, Architecture, People, and technology categories. You can download photos for free and use them however you want. However, you can pay $15 to download all 4,000+ photos to save time.
If you want to redistribute the images in your image library, you must pay for a photo redistribution license, which costs $149 monthly.
🏆 Best for outdoor photos of landscapes and cities.
Life of Pix has some exciting photos, particularly the outdoor scenes of landscapes and cities. The images are sorted into various categories, with the main ones being Nature (1377 photos), City (667 photos), and People (421 photos).
One interesting thing to note is that they allow you to distribute up to 10 images without asking for permission.
Free stock photo sites provide high-quality images that can be used for personal or commercial purposes without requiring a license fee.
Free stock photo sites offer a vast collection of images that can be used in various projects without needing expensive licenses or hiring a photographer. This can save time and money for individuals and businesses.
Yes, the images available on free stock photo sites can be used for free. Nevertheless, it is essential to read the terms and conditions of each site to ensure that proper attribution is given and that the images are not used for illegal purposes.
Yes, many free stock photo sites offer images that can be used for commercial projects. However, it is important to read the terms and conditions of each site to ensure that the photos can be used for commercial purposes.
While it is not always necessary, it is good practice to credit the photographer when using images from free stock photo sites. This provides proper attribution and also helps to promote the photographer’s work.
Some popular free stock photo sites include Freepik, Unsplash, Pexels, and Pixabay.
Yes, many free stock photo sites allow images to be edited. However, it is important to read the terms and conditions of each site to ensure that the images can be edited and used for the intended purpose.
Yes, there may be restrictions on how images from free stock photo sites can be used. It is essential to read the terms and conditions of each site to ensure that the images are used in compliance with their policies.
Free stock photo libraries are cost-effective for anyone looking for high-quality images. And if you are creating websites for clients, you need access to many free images.
To recap, here are the free stock photo sites:
- Freepik — Best for bright, colorful images of people with various facial expressions.
- Unsplash — An excellent, general-purpose stock photo site with many different types of free photos.
- Pexels — Best for food, sea, fashion, art, and animals photos.
- Burst (by Shopify) — Best for photos of women, fashion, nature, and travel.
- Pixabay — Best for photos of animals, flowers, landscapes, and people.
- Gratisography — Best for quirky, fun images.
- New Old Stock — Best for high-quality historic photos.
- FoodiesFeed — Best for photos of food.
- Negative Space — Best for photos of space, nature, and landscapes, as well as colorful artistic images.
- ISO Republic — Best for photos of people and nature.
- StockSnap — Best for pictures of business, people, food, and nature.
- Picjumbo — Best for photos of nature, people, food, and technology.
- Life of Pix — Best for outdoor images of landscapes and cities.