Finding free quality stock images online is almost impossible, right? Well, while that would be the case a few years ago, it certainly not true anymore. I've compiled some of the best photo sites on this list, which is pretty much all you will ever need.
If you want to know which websites I use the most, be sure to check out this post where I handpicked the best stock photo websites for branding.
Pexels is quite possibly the best quality free stock photo website you will ever find, mainly because it works as an aggregator pulling images from various free stock image sites around the web and all images are released under Creative Commons Zero license so you are free to do anything you want with them.
FreeImages has been around for a long time, and up until a few years ago it was known as stock.xchng, so expect to find a ton of free photos over there.
This site also includes a great variety illustrations in its library, so this might be handy depending on what you are looking. I strongly advise to carefully read their license since they are a bit more restrictive than other free stock sites.
If you are looking for cinematic photos, then Unsplash is the website you should place first on your list, and visit often too, just because they are constantly adding new photos to the website at a rate of 10 new amazing shots every week.
The photos on Unsplash are the contribution of amazing photographers from all over the world, and better yet, they are all under Creative Commons Zero, so you are free to use without the need for attribution.
If the sites above were not enough, here's another amazing website filled with Creative Common Zero licensed photos. The best of Jay Mantri’s image library is that they tend to have a sort of dramatic character, many within the travel theme, which renders them excellent for branding purposes.
The downside of Jay Mantri's website is the lack of a search function, it might take a bit more time but their archive pages were built in a way that can help you find what you need.
Freestocks is yet another site with the awesome Creative Commons Zero license, so you can use any of their pictures pretty much in any way you want.
While the size of their library is limited when compared to other stock photo websites, the quality of photos here is up to the highest standards. Be sure to follow them on Twitter, as they send out a tweet every time a new image is published.
Although ISO Republic charges its users to access a premium library of photos, it still deserves as spot on this list thanks to more than 500 high-quality images which they distribute entirely free of charge.
Keep in mind that these photos are available under a custom licensing scheme, so be sure to read their terms and conditions before making use of these images.
Pic Jumbo allows you to use any photo for almost anything. So as long as you are not reselling their images, Pic Jumbo will be ok with it—but just for the sake of getting to know exactly what you can do, take the time to read their FAQ.
They also have premium packages starting at $10 per month, which is a bargain for business looking to avoid potentially disastrous and expensive copyright lawsuits.
Death to the Stock Photo
Thanks to its distribution method—a mailing list—Death to the Stock Photo is a one of a kind type stock photo website. Sign up with them to receive free photos right in your inbox once a month—and you should because their images are stunning.
Their license is pretty straightforward, so you can do almost everything you want with them, as long as you don’t claim it as your own—be sure to read it though.
Life of Pix
Life of Pix should have a category of its own as its library contains one of the most creative shots you will ever find in a free stock photo website. The reason behind such great selection is the hand behind the website, a Montreal-based advertising agency with an impeccable taste for amazing photography.
The site updates weekly, and with so many great photos, you are bound to keep coming back. On the other hand, the lack of a search function turns the entire experience quite frustrating, so be sure to leave plenty of time for browsing.
Pixabay could easily be thought of the very best free stock photo website on the Internet thanks to more than 600,000 photos, but once you starting looking for photos, you might feel slightly disappointed with the overall quality of the shots.
On the other hand, if you do find something fit for purpose, you are free to use it in any way you like thanks to their Creative Commons Zero licensing.
With a new free image added to the website every day, Magdeleine is a great site to find something fresh all the time. One interesting search feature which, so far, I've only seen on this website is that you can sort photos by their dominant colors.
One thing to keep in mind, their library contains two types of photos, some which are distributed under a CC0 license, and others that need attribution. When using their photos, be sure to read the license on every photo.
Final Thoughts on Free Quality Stock Images
I hope the list above helps to show how good high-quality photos don’t have to cost an arm and a leg and knowing where to look will help do more with less.
I will keep on updating this list, so if you happen to stumble on a great stock photo website that is not listed here, please leave a comment below, send me a message, or just tweet me @rayvellest, and I will consider adding it to this list.