If you’re like most bloggers, you likely find yourself on a never-ending journey continuously searching for amazing free images that you can use on your blog or website. You need free images to illustrate your posts, to fill in the WordPress “featured image” for your theme, to promote your site on social media, and so much more. Every time you create a new post or page, you need fresh images.
Some bloggers make the mistake of using a search engine, like Google Image Search, to find images. If you do this, you could potentially end up in a lot of trouble as many of the images in those results are copyrighted.
What you need is to find some websites filled with amazingly high quality stock photos. The problem, however, is that most of the sites with truly spectacular images cost an arm and a leg. You have to pay big money to get images from most stock photography websites.
Well, that’s where this article comes to the rescue. In the paragraphs below, we’re going to divulge the industry’s best-kept secrets. These sites don’t simply have free images. They have AMAZING free images.
To come up with this list, we recently asked members of our Facebook community where they go to find images. What you see below, are their responses to that question.
Understanding the licensing
When you visit these websites and use the images they provide, be sure that you understand the fundamental concepts about their licenses. These licenses lay out the legal framework for what you can and cannot do with their images.
Most of the sites below allow for nearly unlimited usage of the images found in their archives. Some, however, have a handful of limitations. For example, Pexels does not allow you to use any photos with recognizable people to be used in any context that endorses political candidates. You’ll want to make sure that you dig a little deeper before using any images yourself.
Essentially all sites have the following two limitations so unless otherwise specified, you can just assume that these apply:
- Photos cannot be sold without significant modification.
- Photos from each site cannot be compiled to replicate a similar or competing service.
The internet’s source of freely-usable images. Powered by creators everywhere.Unpslash Slogan
I’ve listed them first because they’ve been my favorite source of free images for many years now. The featured image for this post as well as many others came from this site.
Not only does Unsplash provide you with a bottomless source of amazing free images, but they also have what I believe to be a really fascinating origin story.
Unsplash was founded in early 2013 when they posted their first 10 images using Dropbox and making the links public. The fact that a handful of publicly shared Dropbox links evolved into the monolith that it is today simply boggles my mind. It’s the online version of starting a company out of your garage.
Shortly after those first few links were shared, they setup a Tumblr blog where they would continue to post regular updates of free images for public consumption. By the end of 2014, they were getting more than a million downloads per month so they moved off of Tumblr onto a custom website. The rest, as they say, is history.
Today, Unsplash has over 2 million free and completely open source photos available to be searched and downloaded.
The best free stock photos & videos shared by talented creators.Pexels Slogan
Pexels is a leader in the free stock image industry. They have millions of photos to search through. They use a system of gamification via leaderboards, challenges and more that encourages people to upload images to their site.
Stunning free images & royalty free stock. Over 1.9 million+ high quality stock images, videos and music shared by our talented community.Pixabay Slogan
Pixabay is a powerhouse of free stock materials. Not only do they offer millions of free stock imagery, they also provide access to free illustrations, vectors, videos and music. So this would be a great resource when you’re working on putting together your next Youtube video!
Free Stock photos: Browse royalty free stock photos free for commercial use.Morguefile Slogan
Morguefile is the oldest site on our list at 25 years old! It was founded in the very early days of the world wide web in 1996.
Morguefile also engages their users with things like daily photo challenges, user created quests, and much more.
Free photos, videos, and templates for commercial use. Use them in your website, themes, templates, projects, print materials, social posts, and more.Focastock Slogan
While FocaStock provides access to tons of free stock images much like the other sites on this list, one thing that is unique to them is their Foca Editor. Their online editor allows you to create banners, ads, posters and other designs from their images without ever leaving their site.
Foodiesfeed is a resource of awesome naturally looking food photos that are completely free to download.FoodiesFeed Slogan
This is one of the most impressive collections of free foodie-related stock photography that I have probably ever seen. If you run a foodie blog, you absolutely need to check them out. They have an amazing selection of free food-related images.
While many of these sites have a category for food, this site has categories like coffee, cake, or pizza. Plus, their images are insanely high quality.
Thousands of Free High-Resolution CC0 Photos and Videos.ISO Republic Slogan
ISO Republic offers both free images and free videos. They focus on curated their content into collections that can be browsed instead of simply using the search function like on most other stock image sites.
Free stock photography + Color Palettes. Let’s find the perfect photo for you.Kaboompics Slogan
This site is pretty impressive especially given that it is entirely run by a single individual, Karolina. Every single one of the nearly 20,000 images on the site have been taken by her. And they are all top quality.
Free high resolution photography.Life of Pix Slogan
Life of Pix likes to feature a new photographer every week as the “Photographer of the Week.” They also offer a companion site for videos called Life of Vids.
Free, high resolution images. Use them anyway you want – free for commercial use.Little Visuals Slogan
Little Visuals is a small collection of free images dedicated to the memory of photographer Nic Jackson. The site is kept alive by his friends and family as a memorial to his passion. The photos are free to use so hop over, find one to use, and help his work continue to live on.
Vintage photos from the public archives. Free of known copyright restrictions. Recapturing history.New Old Stock Slogan
Get ready to take a journey through history. New Old Stock features historic photos taken from public archives.
Gorgeous, High-Resolution, Free Photos That you can use however you like with our free license.Picography Slogan
Picography is a fairly new site. It is currently only 3 years old. But in that short amount of time, they’ve built up an impressive collection of totally free stock photography.
Authentic free stock photos. Curated for you to use in your next creative project, for free!Reshot Slogan
Reshot offers free images, videos, music, sound effects and more for your next creative project. They also offer templates for popular video editing programs like Adobe Premiere and After Effects.
Free stock photos for websites and commercial use. Download free, high-resolution images.Burst Slogan
Burst is a free stock photography website created by Shopify. I imagine that the original purpose may have been to help empower people selling their products on the Shopify platform, but their license allows for use of their images by anyone and everyone for just about any purpose under the sun.
A place to find, show and share public domain photos.Skitterphoto Slogan
Skitterphoto was founded by a handful of photographers from the Netherlands who just wanted a place to share their own photos with the world. Over time they eventually opened it up to allowing other photographers to contribute as well, and now they have a large, growing collection of free stock photos for the world to enjoy.
Find free stock images, ready for your projects.FreeImages Slogan
This site is exactly what the name implies, a collection of free images for you to use on your various and sundry creative projects. They boast nearly 400,000 free images and growing.
17. Do-It-Yourself Photography
Not surprisingly, when we asked folks in our Facebook community where they go to find photos, self photography was one of the most popular answers.
As technology continues to advance, the price of cameras continue to fall. For that matter, many of us now carry fairly high quality cameras around with us in our pocket in the form of our phones.
As one our users, Karen Woodham of Blazing Minds, put it, “I use Pexels quite a bit and Unsplash, but when it comes for news/reviews of events that I have been attending then I use my own photography as 9 times out of 10 I have exclusive access backstage and in the pit area at the gigs.”
Alyson Harms Merrill, a travel blogger at Simply Heartfelt Lifestyle and Travel Blog, says, “I mostly use my own photography since I blog about places we have visited.”
Here are a few of the reasons that we encountered why folks chose to take their own photos:
- It may be necessary if your niche requires reporting on events such as concerts or travel destinations.
- You don’t have to worry about any licensing issues. You or your clients will have full and exclusive rights to the images.
- You might do it because it is an enjoyable hobby/passion.
P.S. Yes, I’m the one that took the photo of those tools that serves as the DIY Photography background.
The Wrap-Up & Runners Up for Best Free Images
The sites listed above are, in my opinion, the best of the best among places to find free photos. However, there are also many other sites that offer similar services. Here are a few of them:
- Jay Mantri
- Free Range
Do you already use any of the sites on this list? Have you discovered any new ones today? Perhaps more importantly, what sites do you use that didn’t make it onto our list? Which sites should be added? Come join our Facebook community and let us know what you think!