Photos and other graphic elements are a big part of web design. The right photos and graphics can take your designs to the next level, and poor quality visuals can hold your designs back.
Although there will be times when you’ll create your own custom visuals for a website, using stock photos or pre-made graphics can be great options as well.
There are a lot of different websites that offer stock photos and other types of graphics. The huge selection means that you can usually find something that is a good fit for your needs, but the challenge can be knowing where to look.
This article highlights more than 20 websites that you may want to bookmark. All of these sites are excellent resources of photos and graphics that you can use in your designs. Some offer the resources for free and others will cost you some money (and some have both free and premium options).
The resources are broken down into three different categories: photos, graphics, and icons. There is some overlap. For example, you may find some graphics or icons at stock photo sites. However, each specializes in one of these three areas.
We’ve done our best to accurately provide details about licensing for each of these sites, but be sure to verify the license details for yourself before using resources from any of these sites. Also, keep in mind that most free stock photos do not have a model release.
Unsplash is an extremely popular site that offers free photos that can be used for personal or commercial projects without the need for attribution.
The selection at Unsplash is pretty big, and growing daily. The quality of the photos is very high, especially for a free website. You’ll find that most of the photos at Unsplash do not have the typical stock photo look or feel.
Pexels, like Unsplash, provides a huge selection of free photos that can be used for personal or commercial purposes. You also won’t need to give attribution for photos downloaded from Pexels.
The quality of photos at Pexels is very good, and there are a huge number of photos available. My only complaint about Pexels is that the search functionality isn’t as good as some other sites. It seems like some of the photos do not have many keywords, so your search may not find some of the relevant photos that are available.
Pixabay is another leading site for free stock photos. They have a massive selection of photos, although the quality is not quite as high as Unsplash or Pexels. There are plenty of great photos at Pixabay, but there are also a lot of lower quality photos.
Like Unsplash and Pexels, the Pixabay license allows you to use the photos for personal or commercial purposes without the need for attribution.
StockSnap.io is pretty similar to Pixabay. There are a lot of great photos that are available for free, but there are also some lower-quality photos as well.
StockSnap.io uses the Creative Commons CC0 license, which allows for personal or commercial usage, without attribution.
ISO Republic is another great place to find free photos. Like StockSnap.io, ISO Republic also uses the Creative Commons CC0 license for it’s photos.
The selection at ISO Republic is not as big as the selection at the other sites already mentioned, but the quality is good, and many of the photos are unique to ISO Republic.
Deposit Photos is one of the most popular stock photo sites. They have a huge selection of millions of photos and they offer a few different ways to pay for the photos.
You can buy on-demand credits that can be used to download photos, and you can buy them in packs or 10, 25, or 100 images. You can also purchase a subscription that provides a set number of downloads per month (best value). They also offer a flexible plan that allows you to download 30 photos per month, and then you can get additional photos for $1 each.
One of the reasons why I prefer Deposit Photos over most other stock photos sites is the fact that their pricing is lower than the competition. They also run promos fairly often if you are on their email list, so you can buy credits whenever they have a great deal.
iStock has been around since 2000 and is now owned by Getty Images. You can buy credits for photos individually, or purchase credits in packs to use on demand. iStock also has a subscription option that you can purchase for a set number of downloads per month. In general, iStock tends to be more expensive than Deposit Photos.
Shutterstock has a big selection of millions of high-quality photos, and they also have stock video and audio files. Photos at Shutterstock can be downloaded by purchasing credits in packs (2, 5, or 25 images) or by monthly subscription. The credit packages cost more at Shutterstock as compared to Deposit Photos, but the biggest subscription package is about the same at both sites.
Adobe Stock is one of the newer players in the industry (Adobe purchased Fotolia). Although it hasn’t been around as long as some competitors, it has a massive library of photos and videos. Photos can be downloaded by purchasing credit packs or by monthly subscription. The prices of the credits and the subscriptions are higher than the prices at Deposit Photos.
BigStock is another site that has a library of millions of quality photos. Pricing at BigStock is lower than just about every other stock photo sites. Photos can be purchased with credits or by subscription. The credits are actually cheaper than at Deposit Photos. The monthly subscription prices are a little higher compared to Deposit Photos, but they do have some daily subscription plans that are priced lower. The downside to the daily plans is that you’ll need to download files every single day to get the most out of it. If you don’t use your credits on a particular day, you will lose them.
Freepik offers a big selection of graphics (vectors, icons, PSDs) and photos. The standard Freepik license does allow the resources to be used for commercial purposes, but you must provide attribution.
Pngtree has a massive selection of vectors, PSDs, templates, illustrations, and other types of graphics. They offer a free plan and a premium plan. The free plan limits you to two downloads per day, and you must provide attribution. The premium plan ($79 per year) gives you unlimited downloads and removes the requirement for attribution.
365PSD has a good selection of free files (PSDs and vectors). The free files do require attribution. You can also browse premium graphics on the site, but they are actually fed through from iStock. When you go to download a file you’ll be led to iStock.
FreePSDFiles.net is not as big as some of the other sites, but they have a pretty decent collection of PSD files like templates, illustrations, icons, web elements, and more. The files can be used for personal or commercial purposes, but you do need to provide a backlink for attribution.
GraphicsFuel is another site that’s not huge, but still offers a good selection of free graphics to download. Their free resources are licensed to be used for commercial projects with attribution (a link to their site).
GraphicsFuel also offers some premium graphics that you can buy. These files do not require attribution and they come with an extended license. The premium files are sold on a membership basis with a cost of $10 per month.
Creative Market is a huge marketplace where you can buy resources created by many different designers. Designers can create their own sets and set their own prices, so there is a big variety. Items are sold individually with no need to buy credits or membership subscriptions.
GraphicRiver is a marketplace owned by Envato where you can get PSD files, icons, logos, and other types of graphics. Although there are resources from many different designers, Envato sets the prices, and they tend to be pretty low.
Envato Elements is a membership site that provides access to a huge number of graphics, photos, WordPress themes, and more. The selection includes some of the items from the Envato marketplaces (like GraphicRiver), but not all of the files.
A subscription to Envato Elements costs $33 per month, or $16.50 per month if billed annually. With a subscription, you get unlimited downloads.
Vecteezy offers a huge selection of vector graphics. Some are available for free, and others require a Pro membership. The free files can be downloaded and used for commercial purposes, but you must provide a link for attribution.
The Pro plan gives you access to more files and removes the requirement for attribution. Membership costs $14 per month, or $9 per month if billed annually. The membership gives you unlimited downloads, but if you just want a few files, you can buy credits.
Iconfinder has a very big selection of free and premium icons. You can search to find the icons that you need, and filter the results based on free or paid, and also based on license. Some of the free icons can be used for commercial projects and some cannot. Some of the free icons can be used without attribution and some require attribution. If you’re searching for free icons, be sure to use the license filers and make sure you’re aware of the details before using the icon.
Premium icons can be purchased individually, or you can get a subscription that allows you a certain number of downloads per month. The unlimited plan is $24.50 for the first month and then $49 per month after that.
Flaticon offers over 1 million icons. Some of them are free, but most require a membership. The free icons require attribution.
The premium membership costs $9.99 per month, or $7.50 per month if billed annually. With the membership, you will be able to download up to 2,000 icons per day and you will not need to provide attribution.
Whenever you’re in need of photos or graphics for your designs, check these sites and I’m sure you’ll find plenty of great options.