I really enjoy creating my own photos. I’ve become rather good at being an amateur photographer but I adore a really great stock photo. I don’t always have the time to stage and take photos, so having several resources of photos that suit every taste and need is very important to my business.
That’s why I had to share…
Enjoy this great article and list of free stock photos that was put together by PicMonkey.
A quick note on licenses: all the image sites featured here offer free stock photos. However, the license may vary. Many are “Creative Commons Zero,” which means they are free to use for any purpose, including commercial, with no attribution required. Images sourced from Flickr are often CC2.0, which may be free to use commercially but require attribution. Additionally, you’re on the hook to be sure that the subject of the image (people, logos, private property, etc.) is clear of rights infringement.
Basically: When in doubt, check the license. When in more doubt, contact the photographer. When in most doubt, don’t use the image—go for another one!
For that oh-so specific image
When you’ve got the perfect image in your head and just need to find it, these sites are here to help.
Flickr’s sheer volume can overwhelm—a single search can return thousands of images. Luckily, they’ve removed some of the needle-in-a-haystack guesswork with updated search options. You can select keyword, color(s), shape, minimum size, license, and more.
License? Varies—be sure to check each image.
Pixabay doesn’t provide as many images as Flickr, but it more than makes up for it with quality and restriction-free licensing. Pixabay’s images are released under a CC0 license, which means the creators have ceded all rights to their work.
What sets Albumarium apart is its organization. It’s arranged into “albums”—some as vague as “women,” others specific as “abandoned buildings.” The albums tend to be small, some with only a single image, but if you’re looking for the holy grail, you can’t do much better.
License? Varies—be sure to check each image.
Magdeleine is an aggregator, with curated images collected from other free resources. Fortunately, the site makes it easy to search by subject, license, and even color.
License? Varies—you can select CC0-only in their sidebar.
No fuss about attribution here! All Unsplash photos are released under a CC0 license, and they’re gorgeous to boot.
6. Barn Images
Don’t let the name fool you: Barn Images provides way more than pictures of barns. You’re free to use their images without attribution for any purpose, but the site creators would appreciate a shoutout if you like their work.
7. Negative Space
Negative Space is modest in size, but offers a really cool search tool for you content creators: you can search for images that have space for copy on the left, right, or both sides.
When quality trumps specificity
These sites don’t have as many options as some of the ones listed above, but they make up for it in glorious quality and thought-provoking composition. If you’re looking for inspiration more than a set image, these may be for you.
With ten new photos added daily, Pexels’ artsy archive is growing fast.
9. Lock & Stock Photos
Lock & Stock Photos’ photographer AJ Montpetit is passionate about open-source photography—so while he’d appreciate attribution, he doesn’t require it. Sign up for his mailing list and get notified when he adds a new photo to his blog.
Skitterphoto offers some truly unique photos—and depending on which you choose, you may also get a personal story from the photographer about how and where the picture was taken.
11. Jay Mantri
“Do anything. Make magic.” That’s how Jay Mantri urges visitors to his site to use his images. Don’t mind if we do!
12. Polar Fox
Proof that the open-source image movement is here to stay, Polar Fox is less than a month old at the time of this writing. It may be a teeny-tiny archive right now, but we’re excited to see how it grows.
13. Good Stock Photos
Truth in advertising at its finest! Though not a large resource, Good Stock Photos provide high-res images on subjects as broad as “objects” and as narrow as “trains.”
License? The site owner does not technically identify GSP photos as Creative Commons; you can read more here.
For a particular topic
Most of these sites have at least a few images of nature, food and drink, fashion, and animals, but a few free photo resources focus specifically on one type of image.
14. Travel Coffee Book
Travel Coffee Book hasn’t been updated in a few months, but definitely worth perusing for its unique and beautiful travel shots.
15. Free Food Photos
Free Food Photo’s site is an easy go-to for recipe mavens of all kinds. The images are free to use for any purpose, commercial or noncommercial, as long as you provide attribution and don’t resell them as stock photos.
16. Startup Stock Photos
Startup Stock Photos: so much exposed brick and whiteboard scribbling. So many young people wielding laptops. If you’re looking for the start-uppiest of startup images, look no further.
While KaboomPics’ archived categories cover a range of topics, this site has large batches of beautiful photos in the oft-neglected categories of food and fashion. Site owner Karolina has created these images specifically for bloggers, small business owners, freelancers, and other digital natives—thanks, Karolina!
Although Ryan McGuire’s Gratisography site offers plenty of mainstream images, his sense of humor shines through in his wonderfully weird “whimsical” category. Do you need an image of a man brandishing a banana as a gun? Yes, yes you do.
19. Death to the Stock Photo
Death to the Stock Photo is the rogue photographer duo Allie Lehman and David Sherry, who’ll send a free pack of high-res photos to your inbox once a month—so you can start stockpiling for your next big deadline. They also provide what’s essentially a Kickstarter for photo projects: you like it, you back it, you reap photographic reward.
License? Read their “plain English” license here.
In offering over 600 free photos of tantalizing quality, Picjumbo realized it put its users in a pickle: How to download them all without contracting carpal tunnel? Luckily, the site saves heartache (and hand-ache) by providing an All in One photo pack–and while it’s not technically free, you can name your own price.
License? Not technically licensed under Creative Commons, but their extensive FAQ section allows commercial and noncommercial use.