When I look for an image to buy, I often start by checking some of my favorite websites which offer free stock photos.
Thankfully, there is a growing number of fantastic resources offering stock photography for free. And free doesn’t mean crappy. Many of these sites have beautiful collections of images which are distributed under Creative Commons Public Domain license, meaning that you can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission or give attribution. Unfortunately the disadvantage of these sites is poor keywording, which makes the search of a desired image much longer.
But sometimes free images are offered with special conditions – you might be asked to insert a website link and give credit to the author. So make sure to check it before downloading and using the image.
Some microstock agencies also offer a selection of free images on their site. Many of them give away a “free photo of the month”, or a “free photo of the week”. If you often require images for your projects, it can be a good idea to download them even if you don’t need them right away, and put them into a separate folder on your computer. Maybe for later.
So let’s explore the options!
StockSnap.io features a big collection of beautiful free stock photos. All photos are released under the Creative Commons CC0 license. That means you can copy, modify, distribute any photo on the site, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission. No attribution is required.
Unsplash is a great source of free high-resolution images. All photos are licensed under Creative Commons Zero which means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.
Great collection of free photos. All images are released under Creative Commons Zero license and are free for any personal and commercial purpose. Attribution is not required.
Pixabay features a big collection of photos, vector graphics and videos, and all of them are released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0. You may download, modify, distribute, and use them royalty free for anything you like, even in commercial applications. Attribution is not required.
Run by just one photographer, the site features a constantly growing collection of images, free for personal and commercial use. Attribution is not required but appreciated. 12 photographers are now invited to get sponsored by the site, in exchange of adding 50 new photos per month.
A collection of more than 1000 high resolution images, free for personal and commercial use. Attribution is not required but appreciated. Premium photo packs are also available.
Gratisography offers a collection of free high-resolution pictures that you can use for your personal and commercial projects. All pictures were photographed by Ryan McGuire and are free of copyright restrictions.
NegativeSpace offers a collection of good-quality free images and adds new photos every week. All the photos and raw files on NegativeSpace website are distributed under the CC0 Creative Commons license. That means that you can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission or give attribution.
Picjumbo offers a great collection of high-quality images, created by photographer Viktor Hanacek. You can use these photos for free for your commercial and personal projects. There is also an option to donate an amount of money of your choice if you want to support the site.
All photos on FreeStocks website are Licensed under Creative Commons CC0. You can download them for free, copy, modify and use them both in personal and commercial projects. Credits are not necessary but appreciated.
Kaboompics provides a beautiful collection of free photos, which can be used for personal and commercial purposes (but cannot be resold or redistributed). Credit is highly appreciated but not required.
All images are – unless otherwise noted – released under a CC0 Public Domain license. That means that you can do whatever you want with these images without having to give attribution to the photographer or free-images.cc.
FancyCrave offers a collection of handpicked free photos – “emotionally driven images that tell a story”. Each photo is licensed under Creative Commons CC0, which means you can use them commercially for free.
PublicDomainPictures offers free images released under a CC0 Public Domain license. Free images are medium-sized (enough for blogs, websites or small prints), and you need to pay for a full-resolution photo. No attribution required.
Thousands of public domain vintage photos, posters and illustrations for all your creative needs.
Freeimages.com has been created as an alternative to expensive stock photography. Creative people can exchange their photos. The site offers a big collection of free photos and illustrations, and is ran by Gettyimages. Along with free content, it offers “premium” images from iStock. You do not need to include a photo credit for commercial use, but if you are using content for editorial purposes, you must include the following credit line: “FreeImages.com/Artist’s Member Name”.
This site is powered by Dreamstime and offers images donated by Dreamstime contributors. Along with free photos, it offers “premium” images from Dreamstime. All images downloaded for free and used online must be accompanied by a credit line: artist’s name and agency’s name.
Photos and illustrations on this site cost 3$ and more, but the smallest version of each image is available for free. You are required to give acknowledgement to FreeDigitalPhotos.net and the creator of the image on the same page where the image is used.
A modest collection of free photos. The search partner of this site is Shutterstock.
A small collection of low-resolution free images conveniently organized by categories.
Collection of free photos on Dreamstime.
Free low-resolution photos offered by 123rf.com contributors for a limited time – each image has expiration date and is available for free download for maximum 30 days. You are required to include a credit line if you use the image. The site also offers free digital art, free stock audio and a high-resolution image on 123rf.com blog.
Fotolia offers 3 free high-resolution images every week.
iStock gives away one free high-quality photo, one illustration and one audio clip every week.
Shutterstock offers one free photo and one free vector every week – high-quality images selected from artists’ portfolios.