By Daclaud Lee, SEO/Web Developer at Archmore Business Web
I'll save you some time. In a nutshell: here is a list of many websites that provide free stock photos. But before you go charging off downloading these free stock photos, I would highly recommend that you read through each free stock photo website's terms of service first, just so you don't violate any license agreements. That being said, I also encourage you to read through this entire article, just so understand that "free stock photos" doesn't mean you can use them for anything.
Updated: October 31, 2018
Who doesn't like free stock photos? I know I do! But before you use free stock photos on your website or blog, you should learn more about licensing, public domain and the difference between commercial and personal use. Also, if you need professional website design services, then contact Archmore Business Web for a free consultation!
As a business owner, blogger, social media manager, web designer or marketing professional, you need compelling images to go with your story or brand. Every website or blog needs high quality images to help captivate its audience and to increase user engagement. Stock photos serve a purpose that allows anyone to make their website or blog more engaging and captivating to its audience. Although there may be a time when you may need custom photography, there will be many times when you do not. That's where free stock photos come in. As digital marketing professionals, we encourage the use of free stock photos because they allow you to supplement your website or blog content with powerful images that go with your story and brand.
Being "free", it means that these photos might be in heavy circulation around the web. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but when someone does an image search on Google, they will be able to find other websites that may also be using the same photo you're using. Many bloggers and web masters prefer to have unique custom photos for better SEO purposes. If there are multiple uses of the same image, it may be harder for a new website to rank in image search (Hint: Image rankings depend on how well you do the alt text). Having the same image as everyone else is just a minor SEO factor and will not effect your website's rankings if you have great content (if you want to learn more about basic SEO, then please read: The Beginner's Guide to SEO). Overall, this is just a minor reason to be against the use of free stock photos. I personally think it's a silly reason not to.
Lawsuits concerning images are real. Don't believe for a moment that just because an image is circulating around the web, that it's okay to use it on your blog or website. If you are a business, then you don't want to be caught using a photo that is copy written, because a lot of free stock images may be suitable for personal use (within the realm of fair use), they may not be licensed for commercial use. Please keep in mind that we are not lawyers, so therefore, we are unable to offer legal advice regarding copyright laws. if you want to be 100% sure that an image is safe to be used on a website, please contact a copyright attorney.
As digital marketers, we want you to avoid potential lawsuits due to copyright infringements. Therefore, we have compiled a list of stock photo websites that are completely free! Please note that we still encourage you to read the fine print on each website's terms of service and user agreement, because each free stock photo website's rules may be subject to change. Please note that the information contained here was published in September of 2018, so if you are reading this at a later date, then we obviously can't be held accountable for any changes made on these websites!
These are ranked in no particular order, but they do include our personal commentary and review about the free stock photo sites. We also try to note whether or not they are suitable for personal or commercial use. Please keep in mind, that this information may be subject to change at the website owner's discretion.
As a free stock photo website, Stock Vault contains a lot of free images that are great for bloggers and social media posts. Stock Vault has many categories, from people, animals, animation, travel, nature, industrial, objects, seasonal, 3-D renders and textures. You will find a lot of great images and graphics on this free stock photo site.
Stock Vault's photos are "Hand-picked by us, great looking and exciting free images waiting to be downloaded." Stock Vault offers a lot of stock photos that are free to download. Their terms of services, however are vague at best, so I would recommend reading it before you use any of these images. While the images are indeed "free", they may have a license that may prevent commercial use. Be sure to read the free stock photo's license carefully.
Stock Vault's Website states: "Yes, the images are free, but the usage depends on the image license. Photographers can select 3 types of license to share their photos; Non-Commercial, Commercial and Public Domain (CC0)."
The photos from Bara Art are both unique and special to the creator of the website, who is a graphic designer. There may not be very many photos to choose from, and they are definitely niche, but you can't go wrong with high quality free stock photos. Categories include: abstract, animals, architecture, autumn, food, spring, nature, people, sport, spring, summer, winter, and technology.
Bara Art's free stock photo website states this: "Free high resolution photos for your personal and even commercial projects! The world always needs high quality photography! Here they are for you, so make something awesome out of them!"
There is just one restriction in using my photos: You must not resell these pictures! They are for free. You cannot claim ownership of my images in any shape or form. Although attribution is not required, it is greatly appreciated.
Find A Photo's website includes only photos that are part of Creative Commons and are hence public domain. Their website features thousands of free unlicensed images for you to use for anything you want. You can find a lot of interesting photos of people and landscapes on Find A Photo's website. Find a photo includes a find by collection option: action, aerial, bokeh, close-ups, curves, glare, landmarks, landscapes, laptop, light rays, long-exposure, person, reflections, screens, technoloy, urban and wild animals. You can also search by source.
The person who associated a work with this deed has dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law. These photos are all public domain, which means you can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.
As a free stock photo website, Stock Snap has a lot of image that are all free from copy write. The images contained on Stock Snap's website appear great for commercial use as well as for blogs. Their categories include: business, nature, people, girl, woman, food, computer, office, flower, beach, happy, city, family, love, coffee, design, travel, couple, car, fashion, man, women, dog, summer, and more (the list goes on and on).
Stock Snap's website states: "Beautiful free stock photos. Hundreds of high resolution images added weekly. Free from copyright restrictions."
"Whether you're crafting a personal blog to explore your passions or building a complex corporate site for your business, you know you'll need striking, beautiful, on-point images. And ideally, you'll need the freedom to copy, edit, modify, and distribute those images in a variety of formats and purposes - including business-related ones. That's why every single image on StockSnap are governed exclusively by the generous terms of the Creative Commons CC0 license."
The featured images on Komboom Pics' free stock photos website include a wide variety of image content. Categories on Komboom Pics feature nature, urban, technology, things, business, home decor, lifestyle, food and drink, people, interiors, animals, beauty and fashion, and travel.
Komboom Pics' website states this: "When we worked on our license, our primary objective was to make your life easier; you do not have to fear any legal complications."
As phrased on Komboom's official free stock photo website:
"You are free to use our photos for purposes such as creating graphic for your blog or social media, making HTML/PSD templates (for sale), decorating your articles, Power Point presentations, you can even print them on t-shirts."
As a free stock photo website, Pexels is certainly one of the best in terms of quality and license. They allow you to use their images on websites and blogs as well as for commercial purposes such as print (flyers, brochures, postcards, magazines, albums, books and invitations) as well as to promote products such as advertisements, banners and marketing campaigns.
Pexel's website's slogan is "Best free stock photos in one place".
As phrased on Pexe's official website:
Photographers can submit photos on Unsplash. As a community based website, Unsplash has a lot of unique and interesting photos that can be used for blogs and commercial websites. I was highly impressed with the huge category listings and I can honestly say that this is one of my favorite free stock photo websites due to the shear amount of high quality options available. Although it is not required, Unsplash encourages you to give credit to the photographer because it encourages free photo sharing. Giving credit to the photographer can include a link to their profile or just simply adding their name. The majority of these photos are HD quality and free to use under the Unsplash license.
Unsplash's website states this: "Beautiful, free photos. Gifted by the world’s most generous community of photographers."
"All photos published on Unsplash can be used for free. You can use them for commercial and noncommercial purposes. You do not need to ask permission from or provide credit to the photographer or Unsplash, although it is appreciated when possible."
"More precisely, Unsplash grants you an irrevocable, nonexclusive, worldwide copyright license to download, copy, modify, distribute, perform, and use photos from Unsplash for free, including for commercial purposes, without permission from or attributing the photographer or Unsplash. This license does not include the right to compile photos from Unsplash to replicate a similar or competing service."
On Pixabay's website, you can find free stock photos, vector graphics, illustrations and even video. I know this may seem trivial, but in my opinion, one of the better features of Pixabay includes the option to search for photos by orientation (vertical or horizontal). I have not really seen this search option on any of the other free stock photo sites, but I'm sure that might change. You can also search by category, which include: animals, architecture/buildings, backgrounds/textures, beauty/fashion, business/finance, computer/communication, education, emotions, food/drink, health/medical, industry/craft, music, nature/landscape, people, places/monuments, religion, science/technology, sports, transportation/traffic, travel/vacation. Those are a lot of categories!
Being a free stock photo website, I found that Pixabay contained a lot of high quality images. This is definitely one of my favorite free stock photo sites. The free images are perfect for blogs, social media and commercial use.
Pixabay's website describes their services as: "Stunning Free Images: Over 1.5 million royalty free stock photos and videos shared by our generous community."
"Free images and videos you can use anywhere! Pixabay is a vibrant community of creatives, sharing copyright free images and videos. All contents are released under Creative Commons CC0, which makes them safe to use without asking for permission or giving credit to the artist - even for commercial purposes."
You will find many free stock photo categories on Foter. These include: abstract, buildings, education, holidays, outdoors, sports, animals, business, fashion, interiors, people, technology, art, celebrities, food, nature, religion and vintage. Quite impressive for a free stock photo website! I would personally rate Foter as one of my favorites due to the shear volume of free stock photos and category options.
Foter's website describes their services as: "335 MILLION FREE STOCK PHOTOS. Premium Royalty-Free Stock Photos From The Foter Community."
Not all of Foter's free stock photos can be used for commercial purposes. Therefore, you should pay attention to which photos have the Creative Commons license and which don't.
As a Shopify powered website, Burst encourages their photos to be used on commercial websites. They even allow you to use their free stock photos for sales and marketing purposes. Their free stock photo categories include: coffee, fitness, women, fashion, men, yoga, flowers, business, music, nature and landscapes, baby, food, products, jewelry, city, office, dogs, computer, cats, love, backgrounds, money, textures, flatlay, fun, abstract, bike, makeup, cinemagraphs, family, colorful, holidays, startup, colorful, teamwork, shopping, people, and wellness. The amount of content definitely make Burst one of the best free stock photo sites out there.
Burst's website describes their services as: "Free stock photos for websites and commercial use. Download free, high-resolution images. Stunning stock images, perfect for blogs and websites."
"Yes! We believe in making commerce better for everyone, so these stock photos are free to use on any online store platform or ecommerce marketplace. Although they were specifically created and curated with Shopify stores in mind, it’s really up to you how you want to use them."
"Yes! In fact, we’d highly encourage it, as many of our collections were created with entrepreneurs in mind. You can use these free photos on your online store, product packaging, or anywhere else you’d like. You can even use these pics to create t-shirts, mugs, or other products."
When you visit Pikwizard's free images library, you will find many interesting free stock photos that look a lot less generic than regular stock photos. Categories found on Pikwizard's free stock photo site include computer backgrounds, brick wall, background pictures, desktop backgrounds, wood texture, Christmas pictures, desktop wallpaper, HD wallpaper, fantasy landscape, American flag background, colorful image, forest background and more.
Pikwizard has over 100,000 completely free images on its site. Over 20,000 of those are exclusive to Pikwizard. PikWizard is also adding new images to their library daily and their ultimate goal is to get to more than 1 million images!
You will find that Pikwizard has A LOT of pictures of people, which tend to be rare in free stock photo sites. If you check out Pikwizard's site search for "office" or "meeting" then you'll see the quality of the stock photos on the site. Best of all, the stock photos on Pikwizard are free to use without attribution!
By this User License Agreement, Wave Break grants you, a non-exclusive, non-transferable, right to use and reproduce Content in the following ways, subject to the limitations set forth herein and in Section Three hereof:
The information contained above is just a snippet of Pikwizard's free stock photo Terms of Service. For more information, I would suggest visiting Pikwizard's website and reading more into their standard license agreement. There is a lot to read up on!