A Huge List of Free Stock Image Websites That (Mostly) Don’t Suck
by Kelly Googe Lucas, client marketing director
Each week we share with readers the latest graphics that have been temporarily marked free from Shutterstock, Creative Market and iStockPhoto. These images and art files are normally paid-for graphics, but once a week these sites will give away a select few. While this is great (free is pretty much always great), the subject matter is random and may not be the type of image you need for your current projects.
Luckily for those of us in regular need of new graphics, there are several good websites that provide a plethora of free images and art files. Each site’s requirements differ (i.e. filling out a CAPTCHA or subscribing in order to download) but they are all 100% free, and most do not require any attribution (just be sure to double check the terms on each website and with each image).
Note that above I describe the websites as “good.” Some of them are harder to search than others, and some have no search function whatsoever so you’ll need to scroll through the options manually. If you’ve got the time, it’s easy to get lost in looking at some great shots (and even if you don’t have time, it’s easy to get lost in looking at some great shots). In terms of quality, I’ve found that the majority of the images are very good, even if they’re not quite what I was looking for. Given they’re free, they’ll work well enough for a blog post I’m writing. And while some images are duplicated, the styles of photos offered on each website tend to differ. Some have stereotypical stock images while others are a bit more artistic and abstract. As you explore, you’ll get a feel for which sites offer what style.
The list below is by no means exhaustive; these are just the ones I frequent. Do a search for “free stock image websites” and you’ll find a great many options, some better than others depending on your style and frequency needs. Several of them have sign-ups so you can receive a curated batch of free images via email on a regular basis. I highly recommend signing up for them. More often than not, the suggested photos aren’t the sorts I need or would generally use, but every so often a couple of really magnificent ones make their way to my inbox that I know I’ll have a need for at some point.
If you know of other sites readers should know about, be sure to post a link in the comments below – sharing is caring!
This is almost always my first stop. Not only do I almost always find what I’m looking for, but they’re absolutely beautiful to boot.
This is another favorite. Though most of the images don’t quite work for content around professional services, when they do, they’re breathtaking.
LIFE OF PIX
Not only does this site have a good selection of solid images, it also has free video clips.
The images in this site often have a very crisp, airy feel to them. I’ve found plenty of great office and technology images here.
Pixabay has a good mix of categories and subjects, so there’s something for everyone here. There’s also a WordPress plugin that makes it easy to find and drop images directly into posts.
The images on here are nice, if not a bit limited, but that’s because they want you to sign up for the paid premium service. Still, it’s a good site to have as a backup if other sites fail to produce.
The images on here are just plain weird in many cases, but if you’ve got a wacky subject or are looking for something comedic, this is definitely the place to start your search.
This one is a bit of a hodgepodge, some are good, some are, well, not so good. Howerever, there are still enough different options that this is worth a look.
NEW OLD STOCK
If you’re looking for a vintage vibe or need something with historical character, this is your site. The search function is very limited, so you’ll have to really dig through this site, but it’s a fun treasure hunt for sure!
PUBLIC DOMAIN ARCHIVE
Like New Old Stock, this site boasts some cool retro images, but you can also search through newer, contemporary images.
This public domain image site has many of the same images you’ll see on other sites, no surprise there. However, I’ve found the odd one here and there that I didn’t see elsewhere, so a good option as a backup.
This site is mostly a miss for my needs, as the images are typically very abstract, artistic or commercially-focused. But I love their newsletter that sends you a batch of new images, and every so often there’s a really good one in there.
I’ve only just recently learned of Burst, but so far I’ve been able to find some good images quickly. They have a similar feel to many of the other sites, that hazy “best of Instagram” feel, but without feeling overly cliche.
DEATH TO STOCK
This one is a bit different. Instead of searching through an archive on their website, you sign up for a regular email that sends you a huge batch of images. Most of the images are too artistic for our blogging needs, but it’s worth it to get the occasional “ooh, that’s perfect” photo.