We've collected our pick of the best free stock photo sites to help you find the pictures you need. All the images on these sites are free to use for personal, editorial or commercial purposes (and are great paired with our pick of the best free photo editors), but there are still a couple of restrictions to bear in mind.
But keep in mind that many of these sites take contributions from amateur photographers who might not be fully aware of the rules surrounding model releases (opens in new tab) for photos of people, and may not have asked their subjects to sign a waiver. If you're not sure, it's best to contact the site directly.
Back in October 2020, Adobe made over 70,000 stock photos, videos, illustrations and templates available free for personal, business and creative use. Its aim, according to a blog post (opens in new tab), is to "make the means to create accessible images to all".
Anyone with a camera is invited to contribute free stock photos to Negative Space, which aims to give amateur photographers a platform to share their work with the world and support fellow creatives.
Creativity is also very important. Stock photography has a poor reputation because so much of it (even on premium sites) relies on cliches and awkward metaphors to convey tricky concepts, but experienced photographers tend to have an eye for interesting details and scenes that might convey a message in a more subtle or imaginative way.
Want free photos? Need free photos? Love-free photos? Come and join us as we go through this megalith of a list of the best free stock photo sites dotted around the web, plus a comprehensive guide for using free stock photos safely! And
Our team put free photo sites under the microscope, analyzing the image quality, the licensing type, the background, and the legal safety of each of them to pick only the ones worthy of our recommendation. But first, we address some very important matters about free stock photo websites, licensing terms, and more.
By all means, royalty-free stock photos (which are affordable but still paid) are the safest option in images for commercial use. They are legally verified and backed up by big, serious companies that are experts in media licensing.
Free stock photos are every day improving in terms of image quality, and you can find beautifully crafted photos on free photo sites. However, most of those sites don't have strong verification policies, don't know much about licensing, and they leave you at your own discretion in terms of legalities.
The following are our pick of 27 websites where you can find high quality, royalty-free, free stock photos that are relatively safe to use in commercial work. These photos would look great in website designs, banners, adverts, social media posts, blog posts, publications, and various projects for non-commercial purposes!
In terms of safety for commercial use, nothing compares to Royalty-free stock images. These photos have been carefully reviewed and verified for both quality and legality by knowledgeable staff at the professional stock photo agencies that sell them. But did you know you can access some of these uber-safe, totally cool images for free?
Pixabay is a free stock photo site founded by computer technology experts Hans Braxmeier and Simon Steinberger. In May 2019, it was acquired by the fast-growing and very reputable online design platform Canva. Crowdsourced from Internet users around the world, their huge and very varied library of royalty-free images ascends to over 1 million files and counting, and they're all available for free download, and most of them are of high definition, suitable for professional use. While they accept submissions from anyone, they have a professional curator (a photographer and image editor) that manually reviews and ok go's or vets submitted images as much for technical quality as for legal validity. A detailed review and more information about legal use can also be found here.
PikWizard is a very pro-style free stock photo site, full of high-quality images portraying multiple popular topics. It's owned by Wavebreak Media, a stock video and photography production company lead by Irish videographer and entrepreneur Sean Prior. Their hundreds of thousands of images come from various contributors, most of whom are known stock media producers. And they're all for free.
This is the free-stock-photo heaven: high-quality photos taken and submitted by professional photographers who understand licensing, offered and managed by a successful stock media company, with its own custom license for free use. Of course, you must still double check before using, but PikWizard is as reliable as it gets.
The brainchild of German technology-oriented twin brothers with Bruno and Ingo Joseph, Pexels is a free stock photo aggregator offering hundreds of thousands of royalty-free stock images in high resolution submitted by artists or added from other free photo sites. The catalogue is very rich and all images are free to download and use. In May 2019 Pexels was bought by the popular and successful online design platform Canva.
Pexels is a very serious site with a lot of work involved in its creation and maintenance. The developers clearly know their thing. The aggregator factor means the source for the images is not always that clear and the use of CC0 in this context is not the safest practice, but being acquired by a reputable company like Canva adds a veil of safety not many free photo sites have.
Graphic and web designer Ryan McGuire is the owner of Gratisography, a site where he offers a collection of nearly 500 high-res photos of his own authorship, for free. The photos are very intimate and unique, far from the typical commercial stock, and of high quality.
E-commerce platform Shopify developed Burst in 2017, to offer free royalty free stock images intended for e-shops and commercial use in general (though you can use them for anything, like social media or a blog post, too). They have a big library with thousands of high-resolution images with a very current style covering popular commercial topics like lifestyle, fashion, technology, etc. Sourced from hired photographers and user submissions, all these images are free to use, be it within Shopify or anywhere else.
Libreshot is a must-know in free stock photo websites, as this one offers thousands of fine art photos by SEO consultant and photographer Martin Vorel. His images are of very good quality and cover various subjects too. And they're all made available to use for free.
A website created by stock photographer Viktor Hanacek, PicJumbo is the perfect place to find high-quality, commercial-ready, royalty-free stock images for free. This site hosts over 2000 images by Hanacek, covering multiple popular themes, all completely free. People in the images are purposefully unrecognizable, but still present.
Trust a stock photographer to provide the right kind of free photos! PicJumbo is a great source for images for commercial use, not only for their quality but also for their legal safety: all licensed by its owner and minimising risks with the lack of brands or recognizable models, these are CC license images you can trust.
Designer and photographer Karolina Grabowska is the mind and talent behind Kaboompics, a site providing free high-quality stock photos with a natural feel and multiple subjects. All the over 8000 images available are hers, and they're all free.
If you cater to young audiences, work with social media and you need free images, Kaboompics is your new best friend. Grabowska provides everything you need for free, and her custom license and full ownership of the images adds that very desirable trustworthy stamp.
StockSnap.io is a free stock image site by entrepreneurs Christopher Gimmer and Marc Chouinard, also developers of graphic design tool Snappa. In StockSnap io they give away tens of thousands of high-resolution images covering various popular subjects in an authentic, modern and very trendy style. The library is built on the base of user submissions, and all photos are free.
If you look for websites with collections of free stock high-res photos about popular subjects, you need to know ISO Republic. Founded in 2014 by photographer Tom Eversley, this site is currently run by a small team and provides thousands of good quality images to download and use, free of charge.
FoodiesFeed is, as its name hints, a free stock photo site offering photos of food. Over a thousand of them. This is the work of food photographer Jakub Kapusnak, and the online library includes images of his authorship as well as user-submitted content, all for free.
FoodiesFeed is perfect for food bloggers, social media posts, businesses, and anyone needing trendy food photos for free. The licensing model isn't the best, and of course, the site owner's images are safer than the rest. But given there's no people or brands in any image, the risk is reduced and the benefits are large.
Freerange is a free stock photo site providing a large library with thousands of images available to download and use for free. Some of these photos are produced in-house, and some are submitted by users. The selection spans a lot of current and sought-after topics.
This is a good, decent offer in free stock photos. Their in-house produced images are of course much safer. But the fact they have user submitted images under CC0 license, many of them of recognizable people, and they don't disclose much about who's behind the site, means it's mandatory to double and triple check all rights before using their images.
Product designer Cole Townsend created New Old Stock on Tumblr a few years ago to offer his curation of great vintage and historic photography. Right now he has around 1500 files available for free, that he handpicks and aggregates from Flickr Commons listed institutions such as various museums around the world, NASA, etc. All these photos are free to download and use.
NegativeSpace is a simple website with lots of free stock images of various topics and styles. These photos are gathered from contributors after a process of portfolio submission and image review and are of very good quality for professional use. 2b1af7f3a8