Whether you’re designing a website, social media image, brochure, poster, or just about anything else, photos and images are critical elements of the design. The images you use will either enhance your design or detract from it. Since images have such a massive impact on your overall design, it’s essential to use high-quality photos and graphics.
Most designers need a lot of photos, and they need them frequently. Bloggers, influencers, and content creators also need lots of photos and images. Thankfully, there are several websites that offer outstanding collections of photos and images that can be downloaded and used at no cost. Here, we’ll highlight the best free stock photo websites that will prove to be valuable resources for your work.
The Best Free Stock Photo Websites
We’ve ranked our favorite sites for free photos based on criteria like quality, selection, license terms, ease of use, and other factors. Details of each site are listed below.
Vecteezy earns the #1 spot on our list of free photo websites thanks to the combination of quality, selection, and safe use. You’ll find millions of free stock photos, videos, and vector graphics at Vecteezy.
The creative resources are submitted by thousands of contributors from around the world, and each submission is manually reviewed by an experienced content reviewer. As a result, you won’t find low-quality photos at Vecteezy.
In addition to the free resources, Vecteezy also offers a huge collection of photos, videos, and vectors that can be purchased with download credits or through a Pro subscription. Vecteezy Pro subscriptions allow for unlimited downloads, providing the best value of any stock photo website.
When you’re browsing or searching at Vecteezy, there are several helpful filters you can use to quickly narrow your search and find exactly what you’re looking for. The color filter is especially awesome because you can quickly find photos that feature a specific color and will work with your brand’s color palette. Of course, you can also filter by license type if you want to see only the free photos.
Vecteezy also stands out from other free photo websites in a way that’s often overlooked. Contributors are required to submit signed model releases and property releases if the photo features a recognizable person or private property. This is true for free photos as well as Pro photos.
Their reviewers also flag photos that include trademarks (for example, a brand logo) and those photos are released under an editorial license. Many free image websites don’t address these issues. As a result, you get more legal protection by using resources from Vecteezy.
While it’s not required, you can create a free account if you’d like. Creating an account comes with a few perks, most importantly, the ability to view your download history. You can also create collections and mark photos as favorites.
License details: The free license at Vecteezy allows for use for personal and commercial purposes, but you do need to provide attribution (the requirement for attribution is waived for Pro subscribers). The need to provide attribution could be seen as a drawback, but that’s offset by the enhanced protection you get, knowing the photos are safe to use.
Unsplash is an extremely popular free photo website. In 2013, the site launched as a simple Tumblr blog with a small number of photos added each week. With thousands of visitors coming to the site, Unsplash began adding many more photos. They also opened up submissions so other photographers could upload their own free stock photos.
Today, Unsplash offers more than 2 million photos from over 200,000 different photographers. In 2021, Unsplash was acquired by Getty Images, but Unsplash continues to provide free photos to designers, content creators, and anyone else looking for free images.
Unsplash is a popular resource because they have a huge collection and because the photos are, for the most part, high-quality. Most of the photos you’ll find at Unsplash don’t have the stereotypical stock photo look that everyone wants to avoid.
Unlike many of the other sites on this list, Unsplash focuses exclusively on photos (at least, for now). That means you won’t find videos, vectors, or any other type of resource.
As Unsplash has become increasingly popular over the past few years, they’ve also developed apps or collaborated with others, so Unsplash can be integrated with some of your favorite platforms. For example, they offer a WordPress plugin that makes it easy to find Unsplash photos directly from the WordPress dashboard.
License details: Unsplash uses its own license (in the past, it used a Creative Commons CC0 license). The Unsplash license allows for personal and commercial use without attribution. It does not allow users to sell the photos or use them to create another service similar to Unsplash.
Pexels is very similar to Unsplash. It’s another extremely popular site that offers a huge collection of free stock photos that can be used for personal or commercial purposes. However, unlike Unsplash, Pexels also offers free videos.
All of the creative content at Pexels has been submitted by a large and growing team of contributors. For the most part, you’ll find high-quality resources at Pexels.
License details: The creative content at Pexels is released under the Pexels license, which allows for personal or commercial use without attribution. Images and videos from this free stock photo site can’t be used to imply endorsement, to represent an identifiable person in a bad light, and they can’t be redistributed or sold on other platforms.
Burst is a free photo website created by Shopify, the leading e-commerce platform. Although Burst was created with Shopify users in mind, anyone can download and use the high-resolution photos.
Since Burst was created by Shopify, you’ll find a higher concentration of photos suitable for use with e-commerce websites, although Burst offers a wide variety of free stock images.
At Burst, you’ll also find a list of business ideas. All of the ideas revolve around e-commerce and selling online, which makes sense since it’s owned by Shopify.
Currently, Burst offers only photos, which means you won’t find videos, vectors, or other resources here.
License details: The photos from Burst can be used for personal and commercial projects with no attribution required.
Canva is well-known for its free design software, but many people don’t realize that Canva also offers an excellent selection of photos, both free and premium. Canva acquired Pexels and Pixabay, and many of the photos you’ll find at those two sites are now also available at Canva.
In addition to the free stock photos, Canva also offers an even bigger selection of premium stock photos (more than 100 million) that can be accessed through a Canva Pro subscription.
For those who use Canva’s design software, the photos are very easy and convenient to use and add to your designs. You can search right from the design software.
Currently, Canva does not offer videos, vectors, or other types of creative content, aside from the templates that use Canva’s design software.
License details: Content available through Canva may have one of several different licenses. Since many of the photos come from Pexels or Pixabay, you’ll see a lot of photos that are released under the terms of the Pexels and Pixabay licenses. Others may use a Creative Commons license or a Canva license. In general, the free photos at Canva can be used for personal or commercial purposes, but be sure to check the specifics since the terms can vary.
Adobe Stock is one of the largest and most popular stock photo marketplaces. In addition to more than 200 million premium royalty-free images and resources, Adobe Stock also offers nearly one million free stock photos, plus a selection of free vector illustrations and free videos.
Even though these resources are free, the quality is outstanding. And although they make up a small fraction of Adobe’s overall stock photography offering, the selection of free content is still very significant.
Another benefit of using the freebies from Adobe Stock is that all of these resources have passed Adobe’s review for quality of potential legal issues.
The downside is, you’ll need to create an account since you can’t download from this stock photo site unless you’re logged in.
License details: The resources from Adobe for free usage are released under the same standard license as the stock resources you would pay for. If you modify the image, attribution is not required. If you use an unmodified stock image, attribution is required.
Like Adobe Stock, Deposit Photos is another leading stock photo site that offers a nice selection of free stock photos, videos, and vectors. The selection of free vectors and videos is limited, but almost 70,000 photos can be downloaded for free.
You’ll need to be logged in to a Deposit Photos account to download. Although that’s a slight inconvenience, it does allow for your download history to be tracked. At any time, you can log in and find the photos you’ve already downloaded.
The free stock photos you’ll find at Deposit Photos are professional-quality high-resolution images.
License details: The free photos can be used for personal and commercial purposes, but you do need to provide attribution.
Pixabay was one of the first free photo websites, after launching in 2010. You’ll find more than 2.5 million free resources here, including photos, videos, music, and vectors.
There are very few sites that offer a higher quantity of free resources than Pixabay, but Pixabay lags behind in terms of quality. You’ll certainly find some outstanding photos and other resources at Pixabay, but there are also some lower-quality resources that you’ll need to sort through.
You don’t need to be logged in to download at Pixabay, but there are a few advantages to creating a free account and logging in. If you try to download more than a few resources without being logged in, you’ll have to complete a CAPTCHA before each download. Additionally, being logged in allows you to track your download history.
License details: Most of the images available at Pixabay use the Pixabay license, although some are from the public domain archive. The license is very similar to what you’ll find from Unsplash and Pexels. You can use the resources for personal or commercial projects without attribution.
Picjumbo is different from the other sites on this list because most of the photos are taken by a single photographer, Viktor Hanacek. Don’t let that fool you though, there are still thousands of photos on the site, and you’ll love the quality of this free stock photography.
In addition to the free stock photos, Picjumbo also offers a few upgrades like the option to download all the free photos at once, as well as access to new premium photos each month.
There are a number of different categories and collections you can browse through, and of course, you can also search the site.
License details: Free stock photos from Picjumbo can be used for personal or commercial purposes and no attribution is required. As is pointed out in the terms from Picjumbo, not all of the photos have signed model or property releases, and logos or trademarks may be present in some photos. You’re responsible for your use of the images.
If you’re looking for something unique and different, try Gratisography. The whimsical, quirky, and entertaining photos you’ll find here are unlike any others. The site was founded in 2011 by Ryan McGuire, and most of the photos on the site were taken by Ryan.
You won’t find a massive selection at Gratisography, and that’s not what this site is all about. Instead, you’ll find interesting photos that stand out from those at other sites.
Gratisography is very selective about the photos that are released on the site, so you won’t have to filter through low-quality images in order to find the good stuff.
License details: The photos from Gratisography can be used for personal or commercial purposes with no attribution required.
PikWizard is under the same ownership as DesignWizard, which offers online design software. Conveniently, you can take a photo from PikWizard straight to the DesignWizard editor.
The quantity of photos at PikWizard is pretty good, although not as significant as what you’ll find from the sites at the top of our list. They also offer some free stock videos.
The quality at PikWizard is mixed. There are some excellent resources, and there are also some lower-quality images and videos.
License details: PikWizard uses its own license, which allows for personal and commercial use without attribution.
If you’re a designer, content creator, or social media influencer, you know how important high-quality photos and visual resources are to your work. While paying for stock photography is an option, budgets are often limited. Thankfully, there are several websites that offer good free photos.
We’ve covered the leading sites in the industry, as well as the pros and cons of each. Whichever sites you choose, be sure to check the terms and license details for yourself to be sure that you’re complying with any requirements and restrictions.