When choosing free stock photos, icons, or illustrations for your website, social media post, blog, ebook, or advertising, it is important to select images you can legally use.
This is where free stock photos sites are great.
I have done exhaustive research and brought the original list up-to-date for 2019, and now we have an amazing Free Stock Image Sites and moved the page to its own domain dedicated to this fantastic list.
Before we start please take a moment to view my Instagram feed @dankosmayer.
1. Free Images
Free Images (formally called stock xchng) is a great site for free stock photos. The image selection at stock xchng is large and they also include a lightbox feature to save images. With a name like that, Free Images, of course, has to be fully free at stock xchng, which it is. Once you signed up for your free membership, you are free to browse from the almost half a million photos. You can find plenty of free stock images here, but you should not expect great quality. At least the site is searchable, though occasionally will ask you for attribution.
A source of the new and the old, Public Domain Archive delivers a nice blend of style and quality, especially since it has quite a small gallery to work with. That gallery is also searchable without any membership.
The above-mentioned twin sister (or brother, let’s not discriminate) of Re: Splash, Unsplash comes with high-resolution photos and a medium sized gallery. No attribution is required form you.
Pixabay is clearly one of the most impressive sources of stock images. About that membership: while you are not mandated to sign up with them per se if you want to enjoy their site and images freely you kind of have to. It doesn’t take too long and once you did it, you don’t have to complete the Captcha challenge on every single download, which can be pretty grueling after a while.
Little Visuals have a very interesting system in place that makes the otherwise small gallery size less important. In every seven days, they make seven extremely high-quality photos available on their website. You never know what kind of photo will appear, which makes their system kind of interesting.
My own site features very high-quality photography from my travels over the past 20 years. Each image can be used for non-commercial purposes but does require a link back crediting the image to Dan Kosmayer
One of the more popular members of the free stock image sites, Gratisography delivers high quality with little to no rules. You are not required to sign up and while attribution is very much appreciated (as it is anywhere else, really), it is not mandatory. You are free to use the images as you like, choosing anything from the small but high-quality gallery this great site can offer.
Just like Wylio, 500px is also under Creative Common’s license. There is no membership required which is a good thing, but you have to pay attention to the photos’ copyright situation, as not all images on the site will be free to use.
Startup Stock Photos – surprise, surprise – concentrates on potential entrepreneurs who want to start their business. They don’t have a whole lot of versatility going for them but when you nail a specific niche that well, you probably don’t need to. Some of their pictures are not high quality but that’s all right, especially since you don’t have to register with them in order to download the pictures. Attribution is required though.
10. Skitter Photo
A searchable site with no membership requirements but a rather small gallery, the photos are HQ though.
This is a huge resource of free stock image, currently indexing over 3 million photos! Every Stock is a search engine for free photos, and it searches many of the sites listed here. Search options allow you to specify license type. Highly recommended.
This is another wonderful site with a small but very potent gallery. Not all of their pics are HQ but most are, and you are not required to do anything in terms of obligations.
13. Image Base
The photos on Imagebase are free to use and are licensed under a Creative Commons license. Images are available in two high resolution (1600 x 1200 or 3072×2048) formats.
Another Commons child, Wikimedia has a large collection of high-resolution pictures and also a searchable database to boost! In return, all they want is the occasional credit attribution.
15. Image Finder
Another site that uses Flickr’s photos, Image Finder delivers a nice blend of convenience and quality. The size of the gallery is enormous (after all, you can search from Flickr’s database), but that also means it can be quite slow sometimes. No membership requirement.
A free stock images site dedicated to Mother Nature herself, Free Nature Stock offers a small but rather mesmerizing gallery. You are not required to give credit to the original artists and you do not need to sign up for membership either.
At Creative Commons, they did something (surprise, surprise) creative. Sure, it is a small gallery, but similarly to Camarama.de, you are free to use their stuff without having to pay for it or even attribute it back to the original creator.
ISO Republic provides high-resolution pictures and there is no membership required. The size of the gallery could be bigger but no site can be perfect. It’s also a plus (for most) that there are no attribution requirements at all.
19. Morgue File
Morgue file is a completely free source for stock photos. Check the FAQ for usage. The term “morgue file” is used by illustrators and others for a stockpile of images used for reference material. MorgueFile actually doesn’t have a whole lot to do with morgues (although there could be a picture or two in their vast collection), as they offer HQ pictures of all sorts. Nothing ghoulish about it! The site is also searchable and you are not required to sign up with them. You do, however, have to give credit to some of their photographers.
No membership or attribution required, and they have a sizable gallery of truly HQ photos. It is also searchable, although there is a twist. You have to use the search engine by looking for certain categories.
21. Free Media Goo
Unfortunately, this website is not searchable, but at least it offers a true “no strings attached” policy. You are not required to sign up, nor there is an attribution system in place. The gallery is small and the photos are rarely high enough quality to stand out.
HQ photos that you cannot search for, though at least you don’t have to sign up either. There is the matter of the attribution, however, which is required on every photo the website stores.
23. Open Photos
Open photo groups their completely free photos by categories, and offers a search function as well. Registration is only necessary if you’d like to upload photos.
Provided by Lean and Daria N., Epicantus is a rather epic (sorry) online photo gallery. While it has a somewhat small selection, it doesn’t require you to do anything, other than browsing the gallery and selecting your photo of course. Another good news is that all of their images are of high quality.
A site that stores an amazingly large amount of pictures (over 30 million at the moment), 123RF is second on our list. There is premium content for which you have to pay for but you can use the site for free as well. That free content, however, is not the greatest quality. If you want a picture for a blog post you can probably get away with it, but if you need an high quality image for a template, a premium membership is a way to go.
This is another stock photo site that can be linked to a single person. These sites always lack a sizeable gallery but they compensate It with uniqueness and quality. Jay Mantri is no different, and the artist does not require you to sign up for a membership of credit his work.
A stock site with a very creative name, StockPholio is under Creative Commons which means another site with Flickr interest. Their engine can be searched and no membership is required, so all in all, a quality option.
28. Stock Vault
Stock vault is a very classy, modern site with thousands of images and some Photoshop tutorials. With one of the largest databases around, Stockvault is clearly one of the better options you can find. Not only most of their images are high resolution, but their database is also searchable and there are no attribution requirements whatsoever
This is another site that comes with a small library but manages to compensate it with quality and a pretty free-spirited system. You are not required to create an account but attributions are mandatory.
Cupcake is Jonas Nilsson Lee photographer’s page, offering you free images without any kind of requirement from you. Even the attribution is completely free to choose. The obvious downside, of course, is the relatively small size of the gallery, but we cannot expect one photographer to upload millions of photos, can we?
A site that looks – and feels – rather similar to 500px both from a style and function standpoint. There is no membership requirements but in order to use the photos, you need to attribute them to their original creator. This means you have to mention the name of the photographer when using the image on your site. Comparing its size to other sites, Albumarium’s stock is somewhere in the middle between big and small.
Unprofound is unusual in that photos are grouped by color, rather than category. There is also a search function. Registration is not necessary but allows you to create a free online portfolio, and to contribute to the ever-growing collection.
33. Ancestry Images
If you need antique images specifically, Ancestry Images is the place to go. The concept is very interesting but we cannot say that it does not work. The fact that you browse their selection without signing up for a membership obviously does not hurt its popularity either. Currently, there are more than 30.000 photos in the stock and other than the attribution, you are free to use them.
34. Free Range Stock
Free range requires registration before you can download they have had a ton of free stock image. While there are no categories for browsing, it is a searchable site but is not the most popular around because of a couple of reasons. For starters, you can only use it if you have a membership, not to mention that attribution is also required. The size of the gallery is nothing to write home about either. Among the positives, we can mention the abundance of high-quality images you can choose from.
Another site with a very creative name, Superfamous delivers the goods under the aegis of Creative Commons. Their solid database is full of HQ pictures and there are no membership requirements, though you have to give credit to the original sources or creator.
36. Life of Pix
Does this site have a small gallery? Yes. Is it searchable? No. There are upsides, however, as Life of Pix does not concern itself with copyright restrictions whatsoever. Anything you see you can use, without restrictions.
Cepolina is an international site, with free photos about travel and nature with descriptions in 17 languages, and the ability to browse photos using maps of the world, including specific European countries. You can also browse by category, and use a search function.
One of the largest online photo galleries with more than 200 million photos, it is only fair that we ask for a searchable engine. Foter delivered this and although attribution is required from those who want to use these high-resolution images, at least you don’t have to sign up.
This site requires registration in order to enter the site, but once you’re in, you can upload or download, and participate in the forum, all for free. This is a very community-oriented site. Photos are grouped by category but there is no photo search function, that I could see. The forum software is a limitation here.
40. Photo Rack
Photo Rack has a huge collection of over 27,000 images, nicely categorized. The categories are broken down into subcategories, but there is no search function. This is a place to browse, seeking that perfect image. No registration required. No ability to upload, but downloading is a breeze.
41. Free Pixels
Freepixels has free stock image corporate-type images usually only found on pay-per-image sites. It has a search function, categories, and a tag cloud, so finding an image is easy. There are also some good abstract backgrounds here
42. Free Foto
Freefoto is made up of 132,000 images with 183 sections organized into 3,340 categories. There’s a search function, and usage is unrestricted. Just include an attribution link back to Freefoto.
43. Good Free Photos
At Good Free Photos, you can browse the pictures by three characteristics, location, type, and user. No membership or attribution requires which is obviously a huge plus, and while some of the images will not measure up to the highest standards, the quality on average is excellent. You can find several HQ free stock images while browsing the site, a lot of nature and animal photos, as well as famous sites. Just a quality free site overall that can offer a lot of good photos.
44. Image After
Image After has 20,000 images available. There are two drop-downs (one for textures, one for images) that make it easy to browse the categories for each. Image after allows you to use their images on printed material for resale.
Free Digital Photos has a lot to offer, including a good search function, which is important when you’ve got this many images. Photos are grouped nicely into categories for easy browsing. Linkbacks are requested. They have free photos that you can access without a membership, but you have to give credit to the original photographer. The quality of the images will vary.
With a name like that, you expect a very artsy site and for the most part, this premonition is correct. Magdeleine does have some very unique and interesting photos in their selection. That selection is also quite large, which is a plus. They sometimes do, however, require attribution.
Picography has a rather small gallery but you can search for all of their images, and there are no restrictions whatsoever. You can simply download anything you see.
Public Domain Photos is just that: photographs in the public domain, arranged by category. There’s a good search function, as well. Includes a clip art section, as a bonus.
Historical Free Stock Photos has lots of historical images, including many by Matthew Brady (Civil War) and Dorothea Lange (Great Depression). Includes paintings and vintage posters. Categorized, with a search function. Got retro?
Photober requires you to credit them for their photos, but in return, they give you plenty of freedom. You don’t have to register at their site and you can search for anything that comes to your mind.
51. Free Images UK
Free images offer more than 16,000 medium-resolution stock photos in 89 searchable galleries, as well as marketing tips, links, wallpapers, templates, and other goodies. Another one with the same roots, offering all of their images for free in return for a small favor, you giving credit to the photographer. The gallery is rather sizable and although not all of their pictures are available in high resolution, you will be able to find a lot of HQ photos in their selection.
52. IM Free
IM Free comes with a searchable engine which is a huge plus, but in order to reach their content, you have to go through quite a bit of hassle. Not only you have to register to this website, but you are also required to give credit to the photographer.
Budget Stock Photo has no photos of its own. Rather, it contains some rather long lists of other sites hosting free stock photos. You could spend days here, so grab some coffee (or tea) and hit the lists!
A quality image host since the early 2000s, BigFoto is a highly searchable place that offers a great opportunity to find high quality and free stock images. No membership is required to use the site, but the attribution requirement can change from photo to photo so it doesn’t hurt to always check.
Free stock photos from wall to wall, floor to ceiling. Not really (small gallery), but at least you don’t have to create an account or attribute the original source when you want to use the photos. They also work only with HQ photos which are nice.
Another Flickr based site, Photo Pin brings the mother of all galleries. No membership is required but you have to give credit to the original photographer, that is if you want to use their stuff of course. The site is also searchable which is always a welcomed addition (and quite frankly should be a basic feature but that is another discussion).
Photo Everywhere has free travel stock photos, especially from the UK, categorized by geographical region. Photo Everywhere’s niche is traveling photos, and they are very good at it. Their gallery contains 3500+ images with most of them being HQ. You are required to give credit to the original creator (link back required), but you can save their stuff without having to register an account.
58. Photo Gen
Photogen has a nice search feature, based on tagged photos. Web usage is unrestricted, but free registration is required.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking at this point. “Thousands of free images. Is that the best you can do for free stock images?” Well, how would you like to try MILLIONS?! Both Flickr and Wikimedia house a bazillion images that are under the Creative Commons license. For this, a large coffee urn will be required. Good luck. (Wikimedia’s CC image are here.)
Pexels (great name, right?) is another site with quite a unique take on the stock photo landscape. They don’t have a whole lot of photos, to put it mildly, but what they do have is a very intriguing business philosophy. See, not every ordinary photo can make it to Pexels. They hand-pick their stuff, only selecting magazine quality photographs both from a quality and a style standpoint. You may not find a whole lot of pictures on their site (precisely 1600 at the moment), but those photos will be quality.
Free Stock Photos has over 15,000 free stock photos for download, nicely grouped into a bunch of categories.
62. Wallpaper Stop
Wallpaper Stop has a lot of wallpapers. 12,000, give or take. And they are big and high def. Very nice. Sign up and get free wallpapers in your inbox once a week.
The “PD” in PDPhoto stands for “public domain.” There’s not a vast number here, but they’re free…and if you need a pic of Kermit’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, they’ve got you covered.
Did you know that Smithsonian has a quite large gallery of free stock images with Flickr? “Quite large” currently translates to north of 3000 images, all of them coming in high quality.
65. Find A Photo
Coming with a medium size gallery, Find A Photo is another searchable stock image site that does not require you to sign up with them. The images are also high quality, which is obviously almost always the most important factor regardless of the project you do. At this day and age with the currently available screens, you need to find quality.
Not only Splashbase free stock images allows you to look for any pictures you would have in mind, but it also lets you search specific libraries of stock services we already mentioned. These include Pix, Unsplash, Life of Pix or Little Visuals among others.
At Dreamstime, you are required to sign up for a membership to get free stock images, but at least they offer free stock images from their quite sizable (more than 10.000 photos) gallery. Not all will be high resolution, however, and it also needs to mention that attribution is required.
“All pictures on this free stock images site are explicitly placed in the public domain, free for any personal or commercial use.” And there are some very nice photos here, hidden in among the Google ads. Worth a peek.
69. Foodies Feed
From the name you probably already figured out that we are dealing with another genre specific site of free stock images. At Foodies Feed you can find all kind of mouth-watering free stock images about foods, courtesy of Jakub Kapusnak. You can not only search the site but you are not required to sign up for membership either. While attribution is also not mandatory, the original creator requests it from everybody which is only fair of course.
70. Free Photos Bank
A searchable website of free stock images that do not require membership or attribution on your part, it sounds good, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, the size of their free stock photos gallery is not large, but at least they have quite a lot of high-quality free stock images you can browse from.
71. Pic Jumbo
Free stock images from Viktor Hanacek’s site offers you a fairly big collection of photos, a lot of them coming from the young man himself. You can search for specific photos as well, and you can do that without creating an account. It has one of the largest galleries for a site that can be associated with a single photographer, although to be frank, he is not the only artist at work. If you want, you can also request weekly photos sent in an e-mail message.
Hello Creative Commons, we meet again for more free stock images. StockPhotos.io has a rather sizable gallery with about 25.000 free stock photos. Not all of those will be high resolution of course, but still. Attribution is not always required, but sometimes it is so it worth keeping your eyes open while browsing their selection of free stock images.
73. Snapwire Snaps
Their collection is searchable without registering, you don’t have to give credit to the original creator and they offer high-quality pictures for the most part: Snapwire Snaps in a nutshell.
Flickr’s name is probably familiar to you, it is one of the biggest and popular stock photo site. It is excellent unless you are searching for free stuff of course, in which case it loses its charm rather quickly. The alternative, you ask? Visit Compfight for free stock photos and free stock images. This site is under Flickr’s license which means that they have a lot of their free stock images that come in high quality, and all you have to is to give credit to the photographer.
A site that specifies in pictures of the East, Moveast is another “nomen est omen” selection. You cannot search for their free pictures and free stock photos but at least no membership is required. The most fitting description of their gallery is probably “middle of the road”. This describes both its quality and size.
76. Designers Pics
Another website by a single photographer, DesignerPics celebrates the work of Jeshu John. It has a similar system to free stock photos at Cupcake in a way that you are free to use the pictures and you don’t have to give credit to the original artist if you don’t want to. You are also free to edit the images. The obvious downside is the size of the stock, but unlike Cupcake, DesignersPics is actually searchable which is a huge positive (even though most of the time you will not find free stock images you want unless it’s something really generic).
Free Stock Image Point makes all of their images available without copyright and attribution. It is also searchable although the size of the gallery will not make you very excited. Still, it worth to check out if not for else, but a couple of photos you could not find anywhere else. Some of these photos, however, will not be the highest of quality.
Another searchable database with minimal requirements, as they ask for attribution but it is not mandatory. Their gallery has high-resolution images.
79. Pickup Image
Free public domain images, how does this sound? Not bad, right? And in return, they don’t really ask for a whole lot of things. You don’t have to create an account nor credit them to get free stock images, all you have to do is simply visit their site. You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.
80. New Old Stock
This is a wonderful retro site that offering you a large amount of high quality black and white pictures and free stock images from the past. There is something nostalgic about seeing people in an important moment of their life, people, who may not even be among us anymore. We all have this in common, but until we are here, we can use New Old Stock’s wonderful selection of free stock images.
81. MMT Stock
Another site with a rather unique (and tough to spell) name, MMT.li comes with a small but HQ gallery. No attribution required which is ultimately positive, and the same is true about the fact that you don’t have to sign up in order to enjoy their stuff. Don’t dream about searching their collection though.