I know your pain.
You’re looking for the right images for your online store, website, or social media feed. You don’t have time for product photography, so you’ve searched far and wide for free images to use but keep running into cheesy stock photos of people high-fiving in boardrooms or laughing into their salads.
The good news: there’s a huge variety of excellent free and paid stock photography websites for commercial use available online. You just have to know where to look.
We’ve compiled an exhaustive (and freshly updated) list of stock photo resources you can use to find free images to build your brand. Whether you need first-rate stock images for commercial use or a blog post hero, you’ll find what you’re looking for right here.
Find your stock photos
- Free image license types
- 23 best free stock photo sites for commercial use
- Using free images for your website
- Free stock photos FAQ
Free image license types
Before we get into our list of top stock photo sites, let’s look at the different terms and licenses that stock photography websites use:
- Royalty free means you can use the asset without paying royalties or licensing fees.
- A Creative Commons license gives you the right to share, use, and build upon a copyrighted image.
- Attribution refers to giving appropriate credit to a creator’s work. It’s either required or not required when downloading a stock photo.
- Commercial use describes any activity in which you use assets for financial gain. Stock image sites may permit licensed photos for commercial purposes (like ads or editorial) or may not.
- Membership means you must register an account with the website to use its images. Some require a membership fee, while others are free.
It’s always best to double check the licensing terms for the stock photo resources listed below. We did our research when putting this list together, but licensing is subject to change and may differ depending on which stock photographers or stock libraries you purchase from. Some may require approval for commercial use, while others may be totally free to download and use.
23 best free stock photo sites for commercial use
- Burst by Shopify
- Getty Images
- Life of Pix
- ISO Republic
- New Old Stock
- Adobe Stock
- FOCA stock
Burst by Shopify
Burst is a free stock photo site powered by Shopify. Our image library includes thousands of high-resolution images taken by a global community of photographers. New high-definition photos are added every week. These public domain images are free to use for commercial or personal use.
The site has a search feature where you can find images by keyword or popular category. Another neat feature of Burst is its “business ideas” section. Here you can find free stock photos to download and business tips broken down by niche, including women’s fashion, art supplies, socks, and more.
Pixabay is a free stock website with over 2.2 million stock images, videos, and music clips available for download by the Pixabay community. It offers royalty-free photos from contributors, which anyone can manipulate and use without permission or any attribution to the artist.
Stock images on Pixabay have been described as “mediocre for the most part” and cover a wide range of topics. All photos are released under the Pixabay license, which is similar to the Creative Commons CC0, but slightly more restrictive.
Unsplash is home to over 2.5 million free beautiful stock photos shot by a global community of photographers. All images are free for whatever use you wish, and Unsplash adds new images to download everyday. When you create a free account with this stock photography site you can collect photos and access them from your iPhone, iPad, or computer.
Pexels is a free stock image and video library licensed under the Pexels license, which is similar to the CC0 license. You can download, copy, distribute, and modify images licensed by Pexels. This stock image site has hundreds of thousands of images hand-picked from photos uploaded by the Pexels community. All photos are tagged, searchable, and can easily be found on the site’s discovery pages.
Shutterstock is a leading provider of licensed stock images, vectors, illustrations, and music for businesses and consumers around the world. It has a growing community of over one million creators and adds hundreds of thousands of creative assets every day.
To date, over one billion images, video clips, and music tracks have been downloaded on Shutterstock. It has a library of over 300 million free stock images, and customers in 150+ countries.
Getty Images supplies stock images, editorial photography, video, and music from a library of over 200 million assets. Getty Images gears more toward corporations and creative professionals in advertising and media.
Most images are not free—you’ll have to pay for a license to use them. However, you can use some images for free with Getty’s Embed feature, which is only for non-commercial use. The kicker? The free images have the Getty Images watermark at the bottom and you can’t get rid of it.
The acclaimed graphic design tool Canva also offers free stock images on its site. The Canva library is home to millions of paid and free stock photos to download or use in the platform’s design editor. You can switch between images and colors without navigating between tabs.
iStock by Getty Images is another leading stock photography website. It offers millions of popular photos, illustrations, clip art, videos, and audio clips. It’s also known for paying contributors well for their contributions. While you’ll have to pay a licensing fee for most assets, iStock does offer weekly free stock photos to download.
Freepik is a great free stock image site for creators seeking professional Photoshop (PSD) templates and beautiful stock images. The site has over four million assets, from vectors to illustrations, also available for download. Attribution is required to use Freepik’s stock for commercial or personal use.
Born in 2013, picjumbo is a free stock photo website created in 2013 by designer and photographer Viktor Hanacek. It started because all other photo sites rejected his photos for “lack of quality.”
Today, picjumbo offers thousands of high-resolution images, plus social media elements and other design freebies. Images are easy to find and displayed as collections, so you can see the same image from different views and find the best free images for your project.
Life of Pix
Built by LEEROY Creative Agency, Life of Pix offers true-to-life high-resolution stock images for download. It has thousands of stock photos, including everything from food and people to architecture and textures. The site adds 10 new photos weekly from a handpicked Photographer of the Week. All copyright-free images are available for commercial use, but some restrictions apply for distributors.
Depositphoto is a global marketplace for stock images, with over 202 million assets available for download. You can browse through thematic collections of free stock photography and media trusted by corporations including TripAdvisor, Forbes, and Subaru. Many photos are available for purchase, but the site offers over 69,000 high-quality images you can download for free.
ISO Republic is an independent website that curates high-resolution, Creative Commons CC0 photos and videos. It has an ever-expanding library with over 6,000 creative photos, all free for personal and commercial use, no attribution required.
FreeImages provides over 380,000 royalty-free stock photos ready to share. You can license them to use for social media, ads, printed materials, websites, or any other project you’re working on. You can find photos for concepts like fashion, fitness, business, family, travel, and more, all free to download.
Gratisography is a free stock image website different from any other on this list, created by photographer Ryan McGuire. It offers humorous and whimsical images (think: bigfoot in the forest with a mask on) you can use entirely for free, without any copyright restrictions. If you want to express your brand and make an impact on your viewers, photos from Gratisography are the way to go.
New Old Stock
Looking for free vintage photos for your project? Look no further than New Old Stock. While the stock photography site doesn’t actively add new images anymore, you can still browse and download old photos from Flickr Commons–listed institutions and public archives. You’ll find photos taken of everything from gold mining in New England to NASA in the ’70s and so much more.
Kaboompics is another popular free stock image site, with over 20,000 photos. It’s owned by one photographer/entrepreneur and has a stock photo license that covers both personal and commercial purposes without attribution (although it’s appreciated). The site search helps you find photos in over 1,500 collections, with advanced sorting options to find the best match. Kaboompics blog is also full of expert advice on marketing and design.
Freerange is a standard free stock image site with a big library of images ready to download. Photos are shot both in house and submitted by contributors. The collections span topics like backgrounds and textures, animals and insects, technology, and vintage photos. New photos are added daily.
Adobe Stock is known for its premium stock photos and high price tag. But did you know it also offers a selection of free pics and videos, too? Browse curated photo collections of trending themes like Springtime and Nature and Landscapes. Or check out its collection of free illustrations, templates, and 3D assets to use in your next personal or commercial project.
StockSnap.io is a free stock image site created by the same team behind graphic design tool Snappa. It offers hundreds of high-resolution photos, with more added every week. The search function is user friendly and lets you sort by popularity, views, download, favorites, and more. The library is built by user submissions and reflects a trendy, modern style you can use for your projects, free from any copyright restrictions.
Stockvault showcases a big collection of over 138,000 photos on varied topics. It crowdsources photos from creators around the world for you to download and use for free. The overall quality of photos are excellent. The only drawback is that Stockvault has three different licenses, so make sure to check that you can use a specific photo for your intended purposes.
Foodiesfeed is the best free food photography stock photo site on the web. Search through more than 1,700 photos, with intuitive search functionality and tags that are incredibly easy to use. Foodiesfeed is perfect for any food-related website looking for trendy, high-quality photos, free for commercial use.
Formerly known as MMT, FOCA stock offers a full archive of free for commercial use stock photos, with new photos added every single week. It has a big focus on nature stock photography and macro stock photography. The site is also incredibly easy to navigate and lets you sort by category, tags, color, and orientation, so you can find what you’re looking for.
Using free images for your website
Now that you’ve taken a look at the best places online to get free high-quality images, it’s time to build the best ecommerce website for your business. With all of these stunning stock photos at your fingertips, your creative juices are no doubt flowing.
So, whether you’re using the images for a blog post, a website, your store, a Facebook ad, a presentation, or whatever else life throws at you, you’re all set.
Illustration by Till Lauer
Free stock photos FAQ
Is Burst free?
Burst is a free stock photo site powered by Shopify. All photos are free for commercial use, with no attribution required.
Where can I get stock photos for free?
- Burst by Shopify
- Getty Images
Is it illegal to use stock photos?
Stock photos are not illegal to use if you have legally licensed the image. The photographer of a stock image must make their work available for licensing, then you can obtain it by paying to use it or through a Creative Commons license.
What can I use instead of stock photos?
There are two options for getting creative images instead of using stock photos. You can take your own photos or hire a photographer to take photos for your business or project.