Those who have had to search for free stock photos on the internet will know what a hassle it can be. Free stock photos are tricky to find, with a lot of companies charging £10 or more for just a single photo. Then even when you can find them for free, they’re often watermarked or in low resolution.
But luckily for you, I’ve put together a list of my favourite stock photo websites. Suitable for business owners, designers and anybody else who might find them useful.
Unsplash adds 10 new royalty-free photos every 10 days, so there are endless photos of all sorts, but mainly breathtakingly beautiful landscapes. Just scroll through the homepage to see gorgeous mountain ranges, colourful sunsets or nature – all in their very high-resolution glory. This is one of the sites that I use the most.
Another site that I use almost daily, Pixabay features photos, illustrations and vectors. The images are brilliant, and most of them don’t require any attribution at all. Plus the site’s easy to use – it’s a web designer’s dream!
The photos on Gratisography feature some of the most evocative images on the web. Although there isn’t quite as much choice as there is on the previous two sites, the fabulous and royalty free pictures on here make this one of the best stock-free photo sites to go to for both commercial and personal projects.
Picjumbo provides extremely high-resolution photos, vectors and videos with no attribution required. The website is simple to navigate around as well. They provide pictures of most things, but its greatest collection is of food shots. So if you’re running a business in this sector (or you’re just a big foodie like me!) this is a website worth checking out.
The collection of incredibly high-resolution images from Superfamous are most ideal for web design or to use as background images. They’re supplied by Dutch artist Folkert Gorter and his graphic-design peers. Just make sure to provide attribution.
FreeImages is one of the most comprehensive directories of free stock images. While a lot of stock photo websites focus on a specific topic of photo, this website offers thousands of images from a variety of categories.
7. Public Domain Archive
Providing both modern and vintage scenic photos, Public Domain Archive have an extensive online collection of images. A lot of them have striking symmetry and muted colours.
All of the high resolution images of DesignerPics are given free of copyright by Jeshu John, photographer, web designer and developer. The gallery isn’t huge but the website provides categories which is always handy.
Magdeleine features the work of a variety of different photographers. The great thing about this site is that not only can you search by keyword, but also by category, type of license and colour. Being able to search for colour is handy when you need an image that will blend with existing elements on your website or branding.
Some of the images on this site require attribution. Be sure to check the license of the image you want.
MorgueFile has a streamlined layout and carefully curated list of free photos that you can use for both commercial and non-commercial projects. The selection isn’t as large as some of the other sites, but the photos included cover all sorts of topics.
Attributions and licenses explained
When searching for an image on Google, the photos in the results aren’t usually ones that are free to use for business purposes. In most cases, the photos still have the photographer’s rights.
If you want to use photos and keep yourself out of copyright trouble, you need to find websites that explicitly define the copyright license for each image. With all the sites I have listed here, the licenses are generally pretty easy to find. There’s usually a description of the license on every page or at least a link to a description.
These are the two license types you’re most likely to find:
- Creative Commons zero means that you can use the images in any way, without asking permission or providing attribution
- Creative Commons with attribution means that you can use the images in any way, as long as you credit the creator of the photo
Attribution is simple. Just add the text by the image you’re using that cites the photographer (e.g. Tom Smith) and include a link to his or her site if there is one.