Effective design relies on a lot of things: structure, composition, delivery, and more. However, arguably the most important element is the imagery.
Unfortunately for us, that drives the price right up. When even the blandest of stock photo can run you ten bucks, projects can get expensive fast. My most recent blog needed three high-quality images – a cover image and three images sub-sections images – and it wasn’t even that photo-heavy.
Thankfully, times are changing! Thousands of unbelievably kind photographers are opening their photo catalogs to the public and our wallets are sighing in collective relief.
However, with thousands of photographers and hundreds of sites out there, it can get difficult to know which ones are good and which ones are bad. What we needed was a list of the best free stock photography sites out there. So that’s exactly what we created!
Over the past few months, we’ve rounded up the finest stock photography known to man, woman, and beast, and collected them all into one article!
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MMT is a new face on the free stock scene and it’s making an almighty splash. Run by Jeffrey Betts, MMT releases a new batch of brand new photos every week. Every single photo is released into the public domain under a Creative Commons Zero license, meaning you are free to use, remix, and redistribute it to your heart’s content.
One of my personal favourites. Pixabay accepts images from participating photographers and releases them to the public domain under a Creative Commons Zero license. All images undergo a pretty rigorous vetting process, which keeps the quality of the site quite high.
Death to Stock Photos
David and Allie had been working as professional photographers for years when they noticed a creative imagery problem for many brands and companies. The lack of photography to fit different uses. They decided to work through their old photos and release a bundle every month with Death to Stock Photos. Every bundle comes with its very own little story too.
One of the smaller collections, Stokpic has a beautiful collection of premium high-res photos. What’s great about Stokpic is the ability of signing up and having photos delivered to your inbox directly.
Good Free Photos
You get exactly what you expect from the name: good photos for free. There’s a pretty decent range of subject matter, but you’ll usually struggle to find exactly what you’re looking for.
StockPhotos is another site that takes user submitted content and measures it against a robust quality standard. While the collection is quite small, the quality of the images really does make up for it.
Jéshoots started out as the creative workspace of illustrator Jan Vasek. Since then it’s grown into an invaluable resource for all sorts of creatives.
Created by Polish designer Karolina Grabowska, Kaboompics offers up a large part of her back catalogue for free. Each image is hashtagged for specific categories, which makes it easier for you to find related pictures.
Pexels is another collection curated by hand, so the quality of the images is generally outstanding. All images are released to the public domain under a Creative Commons Zero license as well. kit also highlights popular posts and search terms to help you easily navigate through their website.
Free Images buys into the quantity over quality mantra. They have over 30,000 photographers on their books and a catalogue that must number somewhere in the millions. Such a huge collection makes finding good images a bit of a challenge, but there’s definitely some gems in there if you’re willing to dig.
Lock & Stock Photos
Lock & Stock Photos is the work of open source guru AJ Montpetit. All images are released under a Creative Commons 4.0 license, which means you have to link back to his website if you’re using his photos.
Beautiful imagery is everywhere in Fancy Crave. Photos are released in themed packs and you can sign up to have them delivered straight to your inbox. You can even search between photos, vector images, and videos.
Gratisography has a small collection of outstanding images. It was one of the first sites to get a lot of exposure and start pushing the idea that free stock photography can be good.
The brains behind Magdeleine carefully handpick stock photographs for inclusion in their gallery. Most images are released to the public domain under a Creative Commons Zero licence. Their search navigation is also easy to use and allow you to find photos based on dominant colours and popular tags as well.
Public Domain Archive
The side project of Matt and Shayne, Public Domain Archive acts as a central collection point for high-quality images the pair have discovered in the – you guessed it – public domain. The website is organized in a way that mimics a blog.
Startup Stock Photos
Finally business-themed stock photography that isn’t dire. Startup Stock Photography has hundreds of super cool photos for super cool new businesses that need some images quick. However, searching for a photo could be difficult because they don’t have a search bar on the website. In addition, it’s site is infinite-scroll, which means there aren’t pages to navigate through either.
Skitterphoto is a really bizarre collection. Its photos are all taken by the site’s three resident photographers and are all released to the public domain under a Creative Commons Zero license. If you need the original files, you can ask for the RAW files too.
Picography’s images are displayed in a super minimal scroll through gallery and there’s no search. If you’re looking for a photo in a hurry, this isn’t the site for you. All images are released under a Creative Commons Zero as well.
If you sign up to Little Visuals, they’ll send you seven outstanding images every seven days. Perfect! Images are pretty varied, but more often than not have a natural theme. All older releases are available on the website too.
Basically the same as Little Visuals, but three images more and three days later. Unsplash emails subscribers ten new photos every ten days. There is no real theme to their photography, so you can get a variety of photos when you subscribe. However, you can search for specific photos using keywords on their site.
That’s my list of free stock photography sites. Let me know if I missed any in the comments below!