Why pay when you can have it free? There are hundreds of free stock images sites on the net for your personal and commercial projects.
It was a different scenario some 10 years back. There were hardly any free stock image sites and copyright violations were rampant.
Things are different today and there are so many sites to pick images for free!
What is more, some of the free stock image sites today rival the commercial ones in quality of images. High resolution images are plenty and daily more images are being uploaded.
Copyright Free Vs Royalty Free
You have probably seen websites claiming to offer copyright free or royalty free images. What does these terms mean?
Copyright free images are public domain images. You can use the images freely for anything.
You may attribute the original author with a link back to the author’s site or profile page and you can also donate to the site where you got the image. But legally you are not required to do so.
Royalty free images, on the other hand are not copyright free. And there may be an initial fee associated with these images.
When a website offers you royalty free images, they are simply waiving off ongoing payment on the image usage rights.
Royalty free images can be free, but usually have usage restrictions.
Model and Property Release
An image that have people in them may need a model release.
A model release is a signed statement from the people appearing on the image that the image user has obtained permission from them for the use.
An image that have snaps of private property/properties may need a property release.
A property release is a signed statement from the owners of the private properties appearing in the image declaring that the user has obtained permission from theme for the use.
The devil lies in the details!
Read the license terms of the images that you want to download.
The List of Free Stock Image Sites
Stock Up: Free Stock Image aggregator and search engine. Pulls and shows images with Creative Commons and Creative Commons Zero licenses, which basically translates to Free for Commercial Use – attribution needed in some cases.
Pexels: Collection of royalty free stock images from various sites as well as user uploads. Only drawback is the limited size options for an image. No attribution needed.
Freepiks: Huge collection of free stock images. Distributed under Creative commons license, so can be used for commercial projects but may require attribution to original author.
Pixabay: One of my favorites. Multiple image sizes that can be used for any commercial project. Attribution needed for some images.
Unsplash: High resolution images makes this one of the most useful websites for free stock images. Big collection on nature related images. Creative commons zero license means you can use images for anything commercial.
Visual Hunt: High quality stock images. Can be used in commercial projects. Some images have non-commercial license.
StockSnap: Hundreds of high resolution images. Free from copyright restrictions.
Raum Rot: Some top and modern looking imagery there. Suitable for modern websites. They have photo sets based on themes which makes it easy to check out entire set in one go and download. Free for commercial use. No attribution required.
Super Famous: Limited number of stock images themed around nature. Creative common license with attribution applied – meaning, you have to attribute to source images in your end product.
Picjumbo: Collection of Free and Premium stock images. Some images need attribution and some photos do not have model or property release. Yet some other photos may contain copyrighted brands, logos, objects or personal properties. Their premium collection offers more high resolution images.
IamCreator Free: Rather smallish collection of high quality stock images. Some good images on beauty and fashion niche. Navigation is a bit confusing. Attribution need to use their images.
Gratiosgraphy: Small collection of high resolution images. Free to use in commercial projects. Offered under Creative Commons Zero license.
Morgue Files: Images are pretty ordinary, but for free what more can you ask for?! Free for commercial usage with attribution. Offered under Creative Commons license.
Picography: Collection of average quality images. License terms are not clear, but they mention that images can be used for commercial projects.
Jai Mantri: Collection of high quality images from a famous Californian designer Jai Mantri. Free to use in commercial projects without attribution. Creative Commons zero license.
Yeah Stock Photos: Image quality is average. But hey, it is free! Free for commercial use without attribution.
Vintage: Vintage graphics from public domain. Copyright free.
MMT: Collection of mostly average quality and some high quality images. Free for commercial use under Creative Commons Zero license, no attribution.
Free Nature Stock: Free Nature Stock images by designer, developer Adrian Pelltier. Offered under Creative Commons Zero license. Free to use in commercial projects.
New Old Stock: Vintage images from public archives. Free from copyright restrictions.
ISO Creative: High quality free images. Abstract and nature focused. Free for commercial use. Has a premium option with more high quality images.
Life of Pix: Free high resolution images.
Free Stocks Free stock images for personal and commercial projects. Some images are high quality, rest are average.
Good Stock Average quality free stock image photos.
Burst Burst is a collection of high resolution stock images from Shopify. Free to use in personal and commercial projects. Attribution not required.
Reshot Some images are high quality. Rest are average. Free to use. Attribution not required.
Kaboom Pics 18K+ images. Most are decent quality. A few high quality images.
Foodies Feed Focused on food pictures. Free for personal and commercial projects. Attribution not required.
Little visuals Free high resolution images for person and commercial projects.
Skitter Phots All photos are in public domain following a creative commons zero license. Which means you can use the images in any project without attribution.
Picspree Picspree also offers illustrations and vectors besides stock images for download. Free to use in personal and commercial projects.
Pikwizard Some images are high quality. They offer images for free to be used in personal and commercial projects but their license terms are a bit restrictive. Read about it first before using their images.
Raw Pixel Vintage style designs, images and vectors. Free to use in personal and commercial projects.
Stockvault Net Check the image license before using, as they have multiple licenses for images. If you want free, then use only the CC0 or creative commons zero licensed images.
Barn Images Decent quality images. Free to use in commercial projects.
Free Food Photos Focused on pictured of food. Free to use in personal and commercial projects but attribution required.
Albumarium Standard quality image available under creative commons zero license. But check individual license terms carefully before using, as they do not review the images uploaded by third parties.
Scatter Jar Free food images for food bloggers. No attribution required.
Snapwire Snaps It is a tumblr blog offering free stock images from snapwire. Images are licensed under CC0, so you can use them in personal and commercial projects.
Public Domain Archive Vintage and modern free public domain images. A few are high quality, rest are average.
Free Photos CC Free stock images. Decent quality.
Split Shire Free stock photos from Daniel Nanescu.
Free Images Free stock images for your personal and commercial projects. Some images may require attribution.
Deposit Photos Free stock images, photos, vectors.
Magdeleine Small collection for free images. Attribution required.
WikiMedia Commons All public domain images free to use.
Designer Pics Free high resolution stock images. The site is not well maintained.
Free Jpg Argentinian website offering free high resolution images.
Splash Base Mix of vintage and modern images. Decent quality. Not many high resolution images. Free to use.
Free Media Goo Offers free images of standard quality. No attribution needed.
Free Range Stock Free stock photos. Good quality. No attribution needed.
Wallpapers Small collection of images suitable for use as wallpapers. Attribution free images.
Free Stock Photos Biz Mostly free illustrations and stock images but some images may contain restrictive licenses. Check the license before using on your personal or commercial projects.
Shot Stash Standard quality stock images. Free for personal and commercial projects without attribution.
Photo Stock Editor High quality stock images. Free for personal and commercial projects.
Icons8 Free to use images. But needs attribution. Decent quality.
Realistic Shots Decent collection of images. Free to use.
Stock Pholio Average quality. Creative commons zero license in most images but needs attribution.
Stok Pic Free stock photos. Check individual licenses as some images may need attribution
Jeshoots Jeshoots is free stock images site contributed by a single photographer. Images are free to use by check the license terms to make sure that the terms are not too restrictive for your purpose.
Photober Average quality free stock images.
Graphic Burger Collections of graphics resources for free download and use. Contains some free photos.
Nappy Free photos of black and brown people doing things.
Startup Stock Photos Stock photos of office, people, corporate settings. Standard quality.
Photo Everywhere Free travel photos for commercial use. Average quality. Attribution required.
Free Nature Stock Created by Adrian Pelletier, this site offers free nature stock photos. Attribution not required.
Travel Coffee Book Free travel stock photos. Average quality images. Attribution not needed.
Nilssonlee Small collection of free stock images from a single photographer.
FgDesigners Free stock images of average quality.
Move East Travel stock images based on south korea. Free for personal and commercial projects.
Street Will Free stock images of streets and buildings. Some stunning images in black and white.
Rgb Stock They offer free stock images but check the license terms carefully to make sure that terms suits your usage purpose.
Stock Image Search and Aggregators
These are websites that aggregate images from other stock image websites. So instead of searching sites one by one, you can search multiple sites at once.
Note that, these sites do not review the images they aggregate. So, many stock images that are not free or have restrictive usage license may get in. It is upon you to check the individual license agreement and make sure that the images are really free to use.