30 Websites with stock photos (that don't suck)
Great photography can make or break your brand, but very few of us have the time or money to have regular professional photoshoots to keep brand images up to date.
There are literally trillions of photos on the internet now, but finding good-quality, free images that personify your brand and don’t make your audience go “Ugh, that’s so obviously a stock photo” can be tricky. And time consuming. And even if you do eventually find some gems, you then see them popping up everywhere.
Everybody knows about the big stock image sites, but there are a lot of free image sources out there you might not know about.
So here’s a list of 30 websites to source high-quality, free, original and not-so-stocky images.
The top 10 are my go-tos, but after that they're in no particular order…
After starting as a side project by the team at Crew.co, Unsplash has an amazing collection of “do whatever you want” photos. Which means you can download them, edit them, use them for commercial purposes… whatever you want.
A favourite of many graphic designers, sign up to receive a monthly pack of photos straight to your inbox. They range across all different categories and have a Premium membership to be able to search the archives.
A regular or mine, their images are completely free from copyright restrictions, so perfect for anyone wanting to add beautiful images to their projects without worrying about something as boring as copyright.
Started by Daniel Nanescu, who didn’t want to let his photographs disappear “into oblivion,” so he created SplitShire. It’s fuelled but the generosity of other photographers, who also contribute to it. You can also find some great free videos for use. Winner winner!
5. The Stocks
An excellent resource pulling together images from most of the sources in this list into one screen. If you’re not sure where to start, start here. It also allows you to search for videos, fonts, icons and more. Boom!
6. Stock Up
Another one that indexes more that 17,000 images from more than 30 sites, including some of the ones listed here. Easy search functionality, including being able to search by colour.
Another top pick, due to the fact you can search by colour, view complementary colours, view others in the photoshoot, view all the image specs and input custom dimensions you want to download the image at. Ultra high quality and beautifully laid out website make it a breeze to use.
Search in one place for images and video with a creative commons licence across places like Google Images, Flickr and YouTube.
Another index, pulling from a lot of different sources. You’ll also find videos, mockups, icons and sound effects. Just be sure to check if what you’re downloading requires attribution.
A huge library of high quality images that’s easily searchable. What more do you need?
Browse by category to find individual images, or download an entire set, the choice is yours. All available for commercial use without attribution.
12. Jay Mantri
Beautifully-shot photos of mostly landscapes and abstract objects by one designer, Jay Mantri. Perfect for background images or website headers. Mantri’s Mantra? “Free pics. Do anything. Make magic.” That we will.
Another great one for backgrounds, Dutch Artist Folkert Gorter’s images are often birdseye view or super up close. He asks for attribution if you use them. Sounds fair.
14. Foodie’s Feed
Clue is in the name - free food pictures in hi-res. Great for food bloggers, chefs and health coaches.
Sign up for a free high-resolution photo every day. Pretty simple.
16. Little Visuals
Similar to above, but 7 hi-res images in your inbox every 7 days, making your inbox a little more manageable.
17. Snapwire Snaps
Another one offering 7 free pics every 7 days. All high-quality and free for you to use as you like.
A stunning collection of free pictures all taken Ryan McGuire to use in both personal and commercial projects. They’re free of copyright restrictions and he adds new images to his collection each week.
As it says when you land on the page, “Free, model released images ready for commercial use.” Simple. It’s not the most easily searchable website and you do need to create an account to download, but it’s worth it for the amazing people portrait shots and images not see anywhere else.
A huge collection of free pics, illustrations, and even videos. No kind of attribution needed and you’re free to chop them up and use them as you please.
A decent mix of to-be-expected stock photos and more creative images to choose from, arranged into Collections and Categories. Some photos fall under their Premium plan, but most are free and easily searchable.
Photographer Jeffrey Betts sharing his work without the constraints of copyright. What a legend. Nuff said.
23. Life of Pix
Simple title, simple description and simple goal - high-res, professionally-taken photographs with one-click download and absolutely no copyright restrictions. Also check out their sister site, Life of Vids listed below - a collection of free-to-use videos.
Designed specifically for bloggers and creatives, PhotoPin searches millions of photos under the Creative Commons licence. Simple and straightforward to use, but no Browse functionality so you’ve got to know what you’re looking for.
If you haven’t heard of Shopify, and have therefore been in some kind of black hole, now’s the time to get learning. They’ve also very helpfully created Burst as a side-project.
Browse from three categories: modern images, vintage images, and weekly images. There’s no search feature and all the images are in the public domain - as the name suggests.
Can be a bit difficult to navigate and find what you’re after, but if you’re willing to stick it out, all are free high-resolution photos to use however you like if you’re willing to stick it out.
A bit more stock standard or literal images for things like blog posts, Picjumbo is full of royalty-free options that don’t require any type of attribution.
29. IM Free
Not the most amazing source if you’re looking for something unique and creative, but has some good options in a range of categories that are easily searchable. Although they do ask for attribution, it’s a small cost for top-notch and completely free digital pics.
30. New Old Stock
If vintage is your thing, New Old Stock will be too. Expect to find vintage photos sourced from the public archives that are free of known copyright restrictions. If your brand’s more modern, skip it.
... because I couldn't finish without including two of the best video ones, and two of the best paid sources as well!
Free creative commons HD video clips & footages.
Life of Vids (Video)
The sister/brother of Life of Pix, Life of Vids gives you access to “Free royalty-free videos, clips & loops. No copyright restrictions.” All thanks to Leeroy, an advertising agency in Montreal.
Yes, Canva is a design tool. But what most people don’t know is that the paid version of Canva unlocks access to 100,000+ free stock images to use in your Canva designs. I can’t even begin to tell you how much time this has saved me.
Sometimes free stock images become too popular or they just aren’t quite right for what I’m after. In that instance, I almost always buy images from Stocksy. No, this is not a sponsored post! They’re just always really unique and respect the value of photographers and cinematographers, proclaiming, “We believe in creative integrity, fair profit sharing, and co-ownership.” I’m happy to pay for that.