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Designers and artists rely on free stock photos a lot and it can sometimes be difficult to find the right one. To help you with this, we rounded up the 17 best places to get free stock photography. Have a look!
Free Stock Photo Websites
Stock photos are expensive but there are ways to many ways to get free stock photos. Generally, the quality of free stock photos does not match those from paid stock photo websites but if you’re looking for something simple (i.e. landscapes), you’ll be able to find it from these websites. Be sure to check out these free stock photo websites before buying them from other stock photo agencies!
Public domain photos are photos without intellectual property rights usually because of expired copyright or by choice (ex. government work). Thus, these images can be freely with less limitations than other free stock photos. There are many sources for public domain images but our favorite is the one on Pond5 where they made it easy to find and download the image you want.
stock.xchng is one the largest free stock photo website with over 400,000 photos and 2.5 million registered users. They have been purchased by Getty Images but still run as a free website. All their images use a standard image license agreement. Their website still looks the same way it did years ago but it’s still easy to use despite the smaller thumbnail sizes.
Dreamstime is one of our favorite places fore free stock photos. What makes Dreamstime great is that they have a lot of high-quality stock and you don’t have to worry about licenses or restrictions. Dreamstime has nearly 10,000 royalty-free images licensed under their Limited Royalty Free License (RF-LL) that gives you the same terms as their regular Royalty Free license but with a maximum amount of 10,000 copies. If 10,000 copies isn’t enough for you, you can still purchase the image under the regular RF license.
MorgueFile is one of the oldest free stock photo websites; founded in 1996 with the purpose to "provide free image reference material for use in all creative pursuits. This is the world wide web's morguefile.". Because of their age, they have a lot of good quality photos and an easy-to-browse website. The best part about MorgueFile is no registration required!
This is one of the cleanest and easiest to use search that lets you find free photos on Flickr. Each image download informs you of the terms (in case you need to attribute the author) and provides a clean HTML code that you can copy and paste for the credits. The best thing about StockPholio is that you get direct downloads with no registration required.
This is the world’s most popular website for textures. As implied by its name, CG textures has a lot of textures but they also have stock photos too. We love CG Textures because all their photos are distortion/noise free and perfect for 3D artists. They offer a free account which lets you download up to 15MB/day in most sizes.
DeviantART separates from all other free stock photo websites because their images tend to be geared towards artists and you can typically photos here that you can’t find on other websites (ex. fantasy, models, etc.). We’re in love with the stock on DeviantART but the rules some authors use make it more of a hassle to use than other stock photo websites. No registration required but please read their rules - many authors on DeviantART have their own rules and they vary greatly from one author to another.
This hidden gem has over 200 free photos. That's not a lot, but these are actually high-quality stock photos from the world's most famous stock photographer, Yuri Arcurs!
Pixabay is a clean and uncluttered website that lets you download photos without registering!
Pixel Perfect Digital only has around 500 images but their website is easy to use and they have a great tool that allows you to search by color. There are plenty of pictures of inanimate objects but we weren’t able to find any with people in it.
If you’re looking for space photos, NASA has an enormous amount of royalty-free images for you to use. They have photos from the Hubble Telescope, Chandra X-ray Observatory, NASA Image of the Day, and more!
Freerange Stock runs like stock.xchng but they allow their authors to earn money by placing ads where their images are. They only have around 700 images but it is worth a try.
CC Search is one of the best ways to find images from multiple websites including Google Images. They rely on the Creative Commons license but it is typically misunderstood by authors. You’ll often find images that doesn’t look like the author intended for it to be used as stock. The last thing you want is an angry message from the author accusing you of stealing his/her image so send the author a message if you’re not sure.
Free pick is another search engine and it mostly links to photos from Stock Vault. In addition to photos, you can search vectors and PSDs.
The website looks dated but they have a pretty nice collection of photos that aren’t just random snapshots as seen in many free stock photo websites with a lot of downloads. Free Pixels is worth the try if you can’t find what you’re looking for in the other websites.
Paid Stock Photo Websites with Free Downloads
There are a lot of free stock photo websites but typically their quality and resolution doesn’t match those from paid photo websites. In particular, if you’re looking for pictures with people or faces, you’ll have a tough time finding good ones on free stock photo websites. For designers, it’s also important to have a good collection of stock photos and one great way of building it up is to download the weekly/monthly free images from these paid photo websites. Check out these websites weekly/monthly and start building your collection!
iStockPhoto consistently has some of the best free weekly photos. They also allow you to download the previous 3 stock photos in case you missed any. The free image link is on the homepage but you’ll need to login first to find it.
Shutterstock has a free file every week and they usually pick pretty good photos.
PhotoDune is one of the newer stock photo websites but they have a free photo download every month. Unlike buying a photo, the free download doesn't get saved into your account downloads so be sure to keep a backup!
Three free downloads every month! Simply click on the "Free Images" link on the bottom of their website.
A microstock subscription site by the popular Getty Images! As you can guess, their photos are high quality stock photos and you can download a free one every week. The free photo link is located on the homepage after you login.
Bigstock has a free image download weekly.
Crestock also has free stock photos that they give away.
To download the free download, you'll need to login first. The link can be found on the homepage after you login.
Lightstock the best website for faith-focused stock photography. There is a new free image download every week.
Another website that offers a free weekly download. The free downloads can be found on the bottom-half of the page.