Here’s how to create gorgeous visual marketing to promote your business online

Free Stock Photos: My Favorite Resources Today

free-stock-photos

On a world wide web full of words, images cut through the noise and get to the point.

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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.com

Pixabay.com

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.com

Kaboompics.com

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.

Magdeleine.co

Magdeleine.co

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.

FreeRangeStock

FreeRangeStock.com

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.com

Pexels

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.

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This post was originally published on February 11, 2015 and has been updated with new resources and information. Enjoy!

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26 thoughts on “Free Stock Photos: My Favorite Resources Today”

  1. I did a quick search on Pixabay for Triathlon, Triathlete, and got some, but they are watermarked with Shutterstock … so they won’t be free, will they? I was a bit confused by that.

    • addendum… I think I figured it out… they also display sponsored images… which are NOT free. So, you just have to be aware of that.

      • That’s exactly right, Christine. Some of the sites are sponsored by paid stock photo sites. Typically, the paid stock images are organized together in the search results (often at the top of the results page).

        When you need a super specific image (like a triathlete), these sites may not be a good fit. In that case, I really like BigStockPhoto.com. The image pricing is reasonable, and even their “small” image size is quite large.

  2. Hi Pamela,
    I was never sure whether making changes (cropping, adding text etc.) to a stock photo–free or purchased–was acceptable. I think you’re saying here that it is.

    Also, what do you mean by a “written model release from your subject”?

    Thanks for this great resource!

    • I’m glad you asked this, Judith!

      If you want to use a photo with a person in it to promote your business, you normally need to get a written release from the model saying “I give you permission to use my image for promotional purposes.”

      The paid stock photo sites are supposed to take care of this for you.

      On the free sites, I notice often the model’s image is obscured in some way: they don’t show their full face, for example.

      But if you find a free image with a person who’s clearly recognizable and you want to use it on your site, you should probably dig a little to be sure the person in the photo has given permission.

  3. Thanks for including Freerangestock.com, we appreciate it. We’re working to get even better!

    As noted in other comments, some sites (us included) offer Shutterstock search results with our own search results. We tried to label these results clearly as “Premium” results. If you end up buying from Shutterstock, it supports our site. If you’re not interested, just avoid those results and enjoy the free photos! We add new images every day.

  4. Thanks for the update on image sources. Had not heard of kaboompics or magdeleine. You’re so right about the “search” function. We all want a great image to pique interest in our content without investing an inordinate amount of time.

  5. Thank you so much for this fantastic list. I am always on the hunt for new resources. Dollar Photo Club is usually my go-to, but I will certainly be checking these out!

    • Hello e.f.,

      Thanks for this comment. There was a certificate issue but it has now been resolved, so feel free to try your sing up again. Thanks for letting me know. 🙂

  6. I’ve been a fan of yours for years and I’m always impressed with your work and I have tried
    to take it all in… A friend years ago suggested I visit your site… and I’ve thanked him often.
    I look forward to the times I get to enjoy your posts. Keep up the good work… there are a lot of
    us that are in the background learning how all this works… and what parts make us better…
    Thank you Sooooo much for sharing… dw

    • Drinda, thank you SO much for this! It’s comments like yours that keep me creating education. Thank you!

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