One of the most frequently asked questions I get is: “Where can I find free stock photos for my blog or niche site?”
There are hundreds of stock photo websites around the web, and just as many “lists” compiling all of them in one place.
But there’s one problem: They’re usually a list of any and EVERY stock photo site on the web.
But most of the sites that offer free images are:
1. Full of low quality photos.
2. Mixed in with paid options with confusing licensing options, leaving you unsure about which ones you can actually take risk-free.
As a result, this list is going to be different. Instead of making this the biggest list of resources, I’m filtering out everything to only provide you with the best and most reliable resources… the ones where you can actually use the photos for free (without confusion).
Photo usage on the internet
I’m sure everyone knows by now that you can’t just take an image off of any website and use it on your own site. Usually, you probably won’t be caught. But it does put you at risk to receiving a cease and desist/bill/DMCA or in the worst case… being sued.
I won’t get into the nitty gritty about the legal issues of using copyrighted photos here because that’s a topic that’s been covered heavily already by more authoritative sources.
So without further ado, here’s a list of the best possible FREE resources you can start using + some guidance on how to use them.
This will be your best bet for finding images of any kind for most niches.
This should be common sense knowledge, but I’ll just say it for reminder: You can’t just do a Google image search and take any ol’ image and slap it on your site. It’s like playing slots. Pick one that’s being monitored for unauthorized usage, and pay the price.
However, Google’s image search has gotten a lot more sophisticated over the years.
You can search solely for images that are free to use.
Just enter your keyword.
And remember to filter it by the proper usage right.
This company was bought by Getty Images, so will re-direct to a new URL (freeimages.com). However, everything still remains the same.
You might have heard of this website before. Every photo is free. Unlike other stock photo sites that make it confusing whether you need to buy a license or can simply use it, with Stock.xchang, everything is free to use.
There isn’t a huge selection of free photos depending on the keyword you search for, but they’re all free (and pretty high quality) so who can argue with that?
Just check out this free photo I’ve found searching for photography:
Attribution: Use of photos from this site requires you to give proper attribution in the format I’ve used above.
You can learn more about their attribution policies under each photo on their website.
To use the photo… You can right click and save as, but it’s better to just create a free account. That will give you options of different sizes by clicking on the download button.
It’s impossible to leave out Flickr in a list of resources for free photos. It’s got a giant selection of some of the highest quality photos you can find. Not all of them are free to use, but they make it easy to filter them.
You’ll need to create a free Yahoo account before you can start downloading any photos, so do that first.
Once you do, do a search by entering in a few keywords in their search bar.
Next, filter out the list by license type.
You can go straight to the “No Known Copyright Restrictions” option to filter ones that don’t require any type of attribution. However, the list will be a lot smaller.
If you’re fine with giving credit on your page to the photographer, then choose “All Creative Commons”.
That will show you only a list of images that are free to use, but some will have more restrictions and usage requirements than others.
To find the licensing information of your preferred image, just look here:
In this case, it states that I’m allowed to use the image however I like, may modify it, and may even use it commercially. BUT… I have to give attribution.
So, this is what it would look like:
It’s a great photo, and merely having to place a credit link is more than worth being able to use the photo for free.
Think the top 3 is more than plenty? Think again.
Pexels is one of the newer sites to hit the web and they make things SUPER easy for you. They, too, realized the complications of different copyright licenses.
That’s why… all the photos on their sites are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. This means you can copy, modify, distribute and perform the photos. The pictures are free for personal and even for commercial use. All without asking for permission or setting a link to the source. So that attribution is not required.
Pretty awesome, huh?
It gets better.
The site is full of very professional looking photos.
Just look at what I was able to find from looking for football photos:
It’s so great to be able to just sift through and download any of the photos on the site knowing that there are no usage documents to read through.
And here’s one from doing a search for sunsets:
Compare that to the Flickr one I had above.
This site is just so great, and I’m so glad I found it. They even offer free stock videos too!
This site doesn’t have a giant database of photos like the other sites that were mentioned so far. However, it’s super easy to use the photos.
It’s just a giant scrolling list of photos. They don’t require any attribution. To download and use a photo, just click on one and it will download immediately.
Burst is new to the scene, created by the team at Shopify.
With over 1000 high-quality images, they’re all available under the Creative Commons Zero license so you’re free to use and edit them as you see fit.
All of their images are very professional, like this one:
In addition to all of the fun lifestyle pictures on the site, they have a collection of product photography that follows trending business niches to help entrepreneurs make better products, websites, and marketing campaigns.
They also have a few in-depth case studies around business ideas which come with a set of photos and all the inspiration you need to get started, and more are on the way!
Saving my favorite for last.
Another newer site that makes life super easy. They, too have filtered everything out so that EVERY photo on their site is absolutely free.
They’ve got a larger selection of photos on their site so doing a search will be required to find what you’re looking for.
Again, I did a search for sunset and this is what I found:
Seriously? Completely free, no attribution? This looks like the kind of photo you would see on an advertisement for Gap or something.
And here’s another one:
A lot of stock photo sites would sell photos like these for a couple of hundred dollars.
At Unsplash… it’s free.
Thought I would end it off with a resource for icons.
For icons, there’s no better place than The Noun Project. You’ll find just about any icon you need from this website.
They’ve got a huge selection of icons for just about every keyword you search for, and they’re VERY professionally designed.
Here are a few I got back from searching for “web design”
And there are dozens more in the list!
The best part? They’re all free BUT will require attribution. If you don’t want to credit the author, then you can just buy it for $1.99, which is so worth it.
There are a countless number of stock photo sites on the web, but not many that actually offer high-quality photos for free.
The 7 resources listed above are more than enough to find all the images you will ever need for your niche sites and blogs.
I personally go straight to Pexels and Unsplash first since they usually have the highest quality images.
They’re free, high quality, and best of all… simple to use.