A picture is worth a thousand words, or so they say. That means it's important to have some great images to support your site, whether you're a blogger, an online business or the owner of any other kind of website. It's also important to make sure you're not stealing those photos, so here we bring you a list of sites that offer completely free stock images that you can use legally, without breaking any copyright rules.
There are big-name stock photo libraries such as iStockPhoto and Stock.XCHNG, but most of the photographs here will need to be paid for, or will come with strict rules about how they can be used. The sites we've listed here offer completely free, no questions asked, no rules enforced photos for you to use however you want to, thanks to the CC0 license, which releases those photographs into the public domain.
Read on for the 13 best places to get free stock images for your website.
Where to get free stock photos: Unsplash
Unsplash offers free, high-resolution photos of all sorts, with lots of different subject matters. 10 new photos are added every 10 days, so it's worth checking back regularly to see if any photos that you think will be relevant to your site have been added since the last time you looked.
There is absolutely no catch here. The photographs have been released into the public domain so you can do absolutely anything you want with them. Click 'Archive' to see all of the photographs on offer. There are hundreds!
Where to get free stock photos: Little Visuals
Little Visuals is very similar to Unsplash, though this time the photos are sent straight to your inbox every seven days. It's not been running for quite as long as Unsplash so there aren't as many photographs yet, but the library is sure to grow so it's definitely worth signing up to see what gems you can uncover in the next week's photo package.
Visit Little Visuals.
Where to get free stock photos: Jay Mantri
Photographer Jay Mantri's blog offers up seven new free photographs every Thursday in a similar way to Unsplash and Little Visuals. Again, it's worth a look to see if any of the photographs are relevant to your site. There's not an easy way to see all of the photographs at once in thumbnail form, though, so it'll take a bit of scrolling!
Visit Jay Mantri.
Where to get free stock photos: Pixabay
Pixabay is a huge library of free images (there are more than 215,000 so far) but the quality control isn't quite as high as some of the other sites we've listed here. In addition to photos, you'll find illustrations and graphics, too. Lots of the photos in Pixabay have been hand picked from other free photo services including Unsplash and PublicDomainArchive, so you may find it's the only place you need to look.
Where to get free stock photos: Death to the Stock Photo
By signing up to Death to the Stock Photo, you'll get a monthly pack of photographs emailed to you. There's a free pack that you can download as soon as you sign up to get you started, too.
They're not public domain images, but the only restrictions are that you can't re-sell or sublicense the photograph, you can't use it in a defamatory or illicit manner, and you can't pretend that it's a photograph that you've taken. We would hope that you're not planning on doing any of those things, anyway.
Visit Death to the Stock Photo.
Where to get free stock photos: Gratisography
Ryan McGuire kindly shares his photographs on his Gratisography website for anyone to use for personal or commercial projects. There isn't a huge selection, but it's definitely worth a quick look to see if any of them suit your blog or website.
Where to get free stock photos: 1 Million Free Pictures
Toper Domingo also shares his photographs with the public on his 1 Million Free Pictures site. It's a bit misleading as there aren't actually a million photographs available yet – it's a lifetime project of Domingo's so it's not finished yet.
Some of the pictures are pretty odd, though. For example, in the 'Animals section' all you'll find is some pictures of birds and also 8 dead rat photos. Still, it's definitely worth a look.
Visit 1 Million Free Pictures.
Where to get free stock photos: PDPics
PDPics is a repository of free public domain photographs that have all been taken by the website's own photographers. There are loads of photographs to choose from, but the quality isn't always as high as some of the other sites listed here. You'll find pretty much anything you're looking for here, though, so it's definitely worth looking.
If you know a bit of photo editing, you could make some of the less impressive photographs on PDPics look great with a few tweaks and crops.
Where to get free stock photos: Pickup Image
Pickup Image is similar to PDPics in that it's a huge repository of free public domain photographs. They're sourced from around the web rather than in-house photographers, but that means there are some real gems to be found here.
Visit Pickup Image.
Where to get free stock photos: Public Domain Archive
Family-run website PublicDomainArchive.com features hundreds of high quality public domain images that owner Matt has discovered around the web while he's been working on his own projects, and some that he's captured himself. He's collected them into one, central hub for the benefit of other website owners and bloggers.
Where to get free stock photos: PicJumbo
Another kind photographer offering up his photos for free is Viktor Hanacek, who created his PicJumbo website to share photos with the public domain. Many of the photos come directly from Hanacek, but some are sourced from others who have contributed their photos to the site.
Visit PicJumbo website.
Where to get free stock photos: Life of Pix
Life of Pix has a small collection of free high-resolution photographs available, but that collection is steadily growing. They're all really high quality images, though, so they'll look great on your website or blog.
Visit Life of Pix.
Where to get free stock photos: Foodie's Feed
If your blog or website is all about food, then Foodie's Feed is the free stock photo site for you. There are loads of food photographs, all taken by Prague-based Jakub, and all of which are available to use in any way you want to, for free.
Visit Foodie's Feed.
Where to get free stock photos: Scatter Jar
Scatter Jar is another great free stock photography site for foodies. Brand-new photos are added to the site every week - all of a high-quality and equally delicious - and you can download as many as you like. Scatter Jar is free for both business- and personal use.
Visit Scatter Jar.
So there you have it: 14 brilliant free stock photo websites that you're bound to find useful. It's worth using a combination of these sites to source your images, rather than just choosing one, as it'll give you a much broader range of photographs to choose from.
Are there any free stock photo sites that you use but have not been included in this list? We'd love to hear your suggestions.