Top Sites for FREE Stock Photos

Top sites for free stock images

If you’re in need of professional, contemporary images for a marketing project or your website, then free stock photo sites can be an excellent resource.

Stock photos that are copyright and royalty-free can be invaluable for small and start-up businesses. They enable you to have professional-looking projects at a fraction of the cost of commissioning your own photoshoot. 

However, searching for the right image can be hard work and time-consuming. There are dozens of free stock photo sites, but which are the ones that have great high-res images, and are easy to use? Which sites have the most relevant content for your industry or niche?

The best stock photo websites include advanced search functionality so you don’t have to waste time trawling for the right image. Great stock photo sites should also include regular content updates with contemporary images so your final project doesn’t look immediately dated.

Below is a list of user-friendly and content-rich stock photo websites. All of the sites listed provide contemporary-style photos ready for download and use in your print or digital project.    


What are copyright or royalty-free photos?

taking a photo

stock photo from Reshot

Copyright or royalty-free photos are images that individuals and businesses can download and use for free in their projects. 

If possible, look for images and sites that have Creative Commons Zero (CC0) or a public domain license. This type of license allows you to modify, distribute and use the images for personal or commercial projects. An added bonus is that you do not have to give attribution to authors when you use the images. Some of these sites ask that you consider making a donation to the photographer or author.

It is always advisable to check the image’s license or user agreement as these can vary from image to image and site to site.


Why use stock photos?

There are considerable advantages to using stock photos if you are a small or startup business. If you have a limited budget they allow you to make an immediate start on your project. Stock photos are cheaper and quicker to organise than a photoshoot and you can download them to any device.

The quality and style of stock images has changed and considerably improved over the past few years. Yes, you can still find cheesy, clichéd images, but many sites now offer more realistic and contemporary images. Another advantage of using stock photos is often they are shot as part of a larger photoshoot, so it’s easy to obtain a suite of similar images for your project.

Stock photos are used in:

  • websites
  • Powerpoint presentations
  • marketing collateral, brochures, flyers etc
  • Instagram feeds
  • Pinterest boards
  • print ads
  • school projects/presentations
  • screensavers
  • product packaging.

It is worth considering that one of the disadvantages of using stock images rather than commissioned images is that your final project will not be unique.

10 free stock photo sites – A-Z:

Burst is a free stock photo website that is powered by Shopify. It includes collections collated by industry, eg, Business, Fitness,  Landscapes, etc which make it easy to find images to suit your niche. New high-resolution images are made available every week and all are downloadable free for personal or business use.

Foodiesfeed offers high-resolution food images. Although the quantity is not huge, the quality is great an many are shot using current food-styling methods.

Freepik offers a range of free graphic resources including images, vectors, icons, and PSD (Photoshop) files. Freepik’s blog has posts with tips and tutorials on how to use their resources.

Gratisography has a collection of quirky photography that is unique to their website.

Kaboom Pics has contemporary and modern images collated into photoshoots, eg, ‘businesswoman with a laptop’, ‘flower backgrounds’, etc and are also searchable by topic eg) laptop, technology, cafés. 

Pexels offer high-resolution images licensed for use under CC0.  You can explore the site and search for photos by colours, keywords or popularity. 

Pixabay has over one million images and videos that you can download and use without artist attribution, even for commercial purposes. It includes an excellent search function and results showing image data (size, format, etc).

Reshot has a policy of “quality over quantity” and has a great range of contemporary youth-oriented imagery. Reshot also offers themed ‘Quick Image’ packs that you can download by sending a tweet.

StockSnap adds hundreds of high-resolution images each week. All are free from copyright restrictions. You can sort images by date added, what is trending, view count, downloads, etc.

Unsplash has quickly become the go-to website for creatives searching for stock photos. It has 1,000,000+ images and has had over one billion downloads. 

Image from Unsplash




Other stock photo sites that offer weekly free downloads or giveaway packs

Shutterstock has an astounding 300 million+ images, video, and music tracks. Register on the site and get access to a weekly free image or vector file.

iStockPhoto is operated by Getty Images and has access to a huge range of professional images. If you register your email you can download one free photo, vector, and video per week.

Death to Stock is an artist-owned co-op that has quirky images, often with a ‘street edge’. Artists add new media every month. Sign up to their emails to receive several free bonus packs throughout the year.

Do you have questions or would you like more info?

Have you used any of the sites above, or do you have a favourite free stock photo site that I’ve missed?
Please drop me a line here so I can add it to the list of sites to checkout for a future blog post.


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