Images can do a lot in marketing a brand. By using the right photos, you can express ideas clearly and elicit stronger emotions. However, not all startups have the means to have new photos taken for every poster or social media post. Luckily, there are free stock image websites that offer free and no-copyright photos available for download.
In this article, we’ll discuss the 15 best websites where you can source images for your marketing materials. Take the time to visit each website’s gallery of photos and select which ones have the best variety for your type of business.
How to Choose the Free Best Stock Images
But before we dive right into the best free stock image websites, here are a few pointers to consider when choosing images for your brand.
Choose High-Quality Photos
It’s always a good step to look for pictures with very high resolution. This factor is essential, especially if you’re planning to have the photo edited for your graphic design. A low-quality photo can further lose its structure through gen loss from editing software. Thus, it’s a must to start with good-quality photos. To know if the picture is high-res, check the properties of the file. It should be at least 300 pixels per inch.
Select Up-to-Date Pictures
Some photos don’t look dated, such as an image of a woman, reading a book, or a little boy enjoying an ice cream cone. However, some photos may show distinct parts that tie the image to a certain period. For instance, pictures that show a person using a phased-out cellphone model can make a visual look defunct. In the same way, outdated music-playing gadgets and computers can cause the same effect.
Skip Overused Images
Have you ever seen a photo used over and over again by diverse brands for ads and other digital posts? Stay away from those. Stock images should humanize your content and make it more relatable to viewers. Therefore, by selecting overused photos, you reduce the uniqueness of your brand and fail to make it stand out from the rest. You can use Google Images to check if you’re eyeing a commonly-used photo.
Make Sure Images are Really Free to Use
There are two basic types of stock image licenses, the first of which is a royalty-free license. This license allows you to use royalty-free photos, but the copyright still belongs to the owner. When using this type of photo, make sure to know if it’s under Editorial RF license or Commercial RF license. The former can only be used for editorial purposes and not for commercial use.
The second type of stock image license is the rights-managed license. The website calculates the price of a photo depending on several factors, including frequency of use, display size, geographical area, and medium of use.
15 Best Websites for Free Stock Photos
Here are some of the top free stock image websites you can choose from.
Pexels offer a wide variety of photos that look fresh, hip, and young. The website allows users to browse photos according to color, which is a great feature when you’re going for a cohesive look. Their legal parameter is also pretty simple – you can use all the photos on the website for free. Attribution isn’t required, and users have the freedom to modify and edit the photos as needed.
Unsplash takes pride in the variety of images it offers users. They claim to have more than 157,866 photo donors supporting their library of over 1 million free high-res images. Consequently, they highlight the generosity of skilled photographers on their websites. Their API powers several online platforms, including partners like BuzzFeed, Trello, and Squarespace.
Picspree is another website that offers photos, vectors, and icons for free. And just like the first two platforms, they don’t require sign-up or attribution to use their images. This website also offers a premium agreement that allows access to a wider range of hi-res images. According to them, their free content is “Use At Your Own Risk.” But their premium package offers insured legal protection when using photos.
SkitterPhoto describes itself as “a place to find, show and share public domain photos.” The website is the brainchild of two amateur photographers in The Netherlands who decided to publish their photos online to help people get access to good quality free photos. Hence, people can access their public domain images and download or edit photos as they wish. You can also use their images for any purpose, including commercial use.
If you’re looking for vintage photos that you can use for your graphic designs sans the royalty fee, check out New Old Stock. The website says their images come from public archives and don’t have known copyright constraints. Aside from the free images, they also offer what they call “pro photo packs.” These contain edited and curated photos that were taken from institutions that permit commercial use.
Picography offers high-res free photos that you can use for any project without royalty. Compared to bigger stock image websites like Pexels and Unsplash, however, this website offers a much smaller library. Although, it’s worth it to browse their photos as they offer pristine images that tell compelling stories by themselves. They’re also open to online submissions from pro and newbie photographers.
This photo-sharing website offers a wide variety of images and allows users to search by sections or color. They take pride in having new photos uploaded every week, so you’ll always find something new when you browse their gallery. Their high-res images don’t have copyright restrictions. Hence, they’re free to be used for both personal and commercial purposes. However, the website clarifies that you can’t use their images for mass distribution.
This website offers shot variations for every subject, granting more options for precise graphic artists. The site designed its library into various sections, including animals, city and architecture, fashion, food and drinks, nature, objects, and people. You can also search for a photo using common tags. The platform is pretty much open to all – donors and users alike. Hence, the images are free to use both for personal and commercial projects.
If you’re looking for images that could pass as a photo-shoot product, check out reshot. The website pledges “uniquely free photos” and “non-stocky images.” Thus, you’ll find images that don’t seem overly staged but look pleasing nonetheless. It’s a great source of material for brands that want to embrace a more spontaneous and less scripted identity. Reshot images are free for trade and non-trade uses.
Little Visuals takes pride in having 3.4 million users, 15.5 million image views, and 130,000. The website’s founder, Nic Jackson, passed away in 2013, but his family ensured that his passion project will continue to flourish. Today, the site remains to be a go-to image source for graphic artists looking for free images for their projects.
This website is gold for those in the food business. The site features a wide array of photos shared by foodies around the globe, with all images free to download. The site was founded a few years ago by Jakub Kapusnak, who wanted to have a simple platform to share his food photos. The website quickly became a hub for food photographers and users. The images in FoodiesFeed look sumptuous and tasty – a far cry from generic and sterile-looking food stock photos. Their sections vary from type of food or drink (e.g. coffee, pizza) to style (e.g. top view).
If you find most stock photos boring, then you might want to check out Gratisography. Offering unique photos, the website embraces its identity of being the “world’s quirkiest collection of free high-res pictures.” Their images have a whimsy look to them. Despite this, most are engaging enough to be used for graphics without looking too weird for mainstream graphics.
ISO Republic offers not just free-to-use photos, but videos as well. Their gallery is divided into sections, such as people, nature, food, business, and landscape. They also feature a blog about photography, videography, and graphic design.
Shopify knows just how vital images are to marketing. Thus, they have their own stock photo website called Burst. The site offers a wide range of photos, such as arts, background, family, business, beauty, work, travel, and many others. The variety range of their pictures is vital, given that their clients have diverse niches for their online stores. Because their collections are for business owners, it’s easy to find something you can use from their gallery.
Pixabay is one of the most popular free stock image websites today. They take pride in being a free-to-use “copyleft” website (in contrast to copyright) that offers photos, vectors, and videos. Based in Germany, the website boasts of more than a million high-quality photos and videos shared by contributors.