On a world wide web full of words, images cut through the noise and get to the point.
A well-chosen image will enhance what your words say, and add meaning to your communication.
The good news is that finding great stock photos — even free stock photos — is easier than ever.
There are dozens of websites that offer free stock images. Their business models vary:
- Some are supported by advertising
- Some are supported by user donations
- Some serve as portfolios for a photographer’s work
The free stock photo image resources here — as of this writing — allow you to use their images for free, even for a commercial website.
In some cases, sites request you credit the site and add a link, but it’s requested as a courtesy and isn’t required unless otherwise noted below.
What won’t you find here?
There are some fantastic (and free) stock photo sites that you won’t find here. Why?
Well, I’m picky. And impatient. And I don’t have all the time in the world. So I eliminated any free stock photo site that didn’t have a robust search function.
You may love scrolling through beautiful images as much as I do, but I’m betting you’re busy, just like I am.
That’s why the free stock photo sites below all feature a search tool on the site.
Because we need to have the ability to search for specific images, or topics. A robust search function can dramatically cut the time you spend searching for the right image.
Pixabay is my favorite free photo site! It features photos, illustrations, and vectors.
I have used Pixabay images here on Big Brand System, in posts on important websites, in speeches, presentations, and slide decks.
Their images are vetted by a team of volunteer editors and require no photo credit. They can be used for both personal and commercial purposes.
Creating an account on the site will allow you quicker access to images, which you can download in a variety of sizes (this is a very handy feature).
If you’re a photography buff and want to pay it forward, Pixabay may accept your image and share it with site users.
Kaboompics offers major image categories, and has a search feature, too.
Their image collection isn’t huge, but the images they do have are high quality are quite large — large enough to be used for print design.
The only thing you can’t do with Kaboompics images is sell them: the site is devoted to keeping these images free.
I love Magdeleine because it offers not only search but photo categories. It also features the work of a wide variety of photographers.
You can search by color, too! That’s a neat feature when you need an image that will blend with existing elements on your website.
A warning: some photos on this site require attribution. Please see the image you want to use for details.
Free Range Stock has some great images, and it has some “meh” images. Some of them look a bit amateurish. But sometimes, as they say on the site, you just need a photo of a rock. And they have that, and more!
You need to register to the site to use the images. But once you do, they’re free for commercial use. Registering gives you access to their “lightbox” tool where you can save groups of images.
Pexels offers a large collection of stock photo images that are free to use. One quirk of the search function: once you’ve done a search, it seems to work better to go back to the home page for new searches.
Pexel images are exceptionally high quality for a free stock photo site — really impressive. There aren’t a lot of them, but what they have is really great.
One quirk of the search function: once you’ve done a search, it seems to work better to go back to the home page for new searches.
All stocked up? Now have some fun!
If you’ve grabbed your fair share of beautiful stock images, you might be ready to crop, apply effects, or add text to them.
[FREE EBOOK] How to Create 5 High-Impact Brand Images
Get How to Create 5 High-Impact Brand Images for free when you sign up for The Image Lab interest list.
The Image Lab is a course that shows you a simple, step-by-step method to create the best:
- Website images
- Facebook images
- Instagram images
- Pinterest images
Putting your name on the interest list means that when The Image Lab opens back up, you’ll find out first (and get it for a big discount).
I specialize in teaching non-artists, so don’t worry if you have no design training.
In the ebook, I walk you through everything step by step. You may even discover that image creation is fun. (Can you believe it?) You’ll get instructions for creating five types of images with a free PicMonkey account:
- The colored overlay style: this is a simple technique that helps you stay “on-brand” and makes it easy to add text to your image.
- The unifying filter style: this style shows you how, in just a few clicks, you can make a group of images look visually related and cohesive.
- The collage style: display many images in one compact group and tell a big story in a quick glance with this versatile, fun style.
- The texture and frame styles: (two in one!). Add interesting textures and frames to make your image pop.
- The watermark style: After you’ve created your high-impact image, add a watermarked logo or website URL so you direct people back to your website.
Drop your email address into the form below. I’ll send the ebook direct to your inbox.
This post was originally published on February 11, 2015 and has been updated with new resources and information. Enjoy!