Websites depend on quality graphics, photos, and videos to provide a great user experience. In fact, site visitors will judge your website and your business within seconds, and whether or not you make a good first impression is in part due to the quality of images and graphics you use. So to help, we put together a list of the best sites to find free professional stock images for your website that are so good, no one will think that they’re stock.
If you’re starting a website now, consider using Squarespace. You’ll save time and money because Squarespace offers high-quality free stock photos right in its website builder. So, there’s no need for you to source images, download them, or worry about licensing if you use Squarespace to build your site.
Best Free Stock Photo Sites Masterlist
Advanced searches to find a specific type of free image or video
Finding free images by color or collections by topic
Free high-resolution images by photographers you can hire for other projects
Creating your own graphics using Canva’s free stock photos
Browsing one of the largest libraries of free images (many with Creative Commons licensing)
Visual searching to find images or art with Creative Commons licensing
Downloading a large library of stock images for a low price
Free images for bloggers—especially food and lifestyle bloggers
Finding free graphics and vector illustrations
Creating product mockups with your branding or free stock images
Free animated stock images, stock footage, audio clips
Free stock video and audio clips
Free photos, graphics, and videos from a well-known brand
Here are the best free stock photo sites to find professional images:
Best for: Advanced searches to find a specific type of free image or video
|2.3 million+ images, graphics, and videos||You can’t search for a mix of media types at once|
|Advanced search and filter features||Sponsored images get top billing|
|Includes SafeSearch||Full-res photo requires sign-up|
If you’re just starting to create your small business website, consider finding images you need at Pixabay. It provides more than 2.3 million free images and videos for non-commercial and commercial use. It’s one of the best ways to find professional images for your website because of its advanced search function. You can sort by a variety of parameters, including orientation, media type, and category. If you want to use the highest resolution of an image, you need to sign up for an account, but this is also free.
With every search you perform, you’ll see a strip at the top of results for paid stock photos, but you just have to scroll down to get to the free images. All of Pixabay’s images are royalty-free, so you can use them or modify them for almost any use without providing attribution. The SafeSearch filters out any adult images.
Best for: Finding free images by color or collections by topic
|1 million+ images, graphics, and videos||Results don’t always match the search|
|Discover feature groups images by categories||Default download is original size|
|Search and filter features|
Pexels is a royalty-free stock image and video site with more than 1 million types of media. Its license lets you use creators’ content for your own personal or professional use without attribution. Resolution varies for each high-quality image, but when you download one without specifying the size, you’ll get the original version.
A unique feature of Pexels is the ability to search by color. So, if you need an image or video with a specific tone, you can browse collections or filter results by color. The search function can be a bit hit or miss, though. Some image results don’t fit the search precisely, so you may need to be more specific with your search terms.
Best for: Free high-resolution images by photographers you can hire for other projects
|2 million+ images||Results may be broad|
|Related searches and collections suggestions in results||No videos|
|Visual search function|
|Find photographers to hire|
Unsplash is one of the most popular free stock photo sites to find professional images. It offers more than 2 million photos for free use under its license. It also provides free stock images for Squarespace users directly within its editor, which is one reason why Squarespace is one of the best website builders. Unlike some other free stock photo sites, it doesn’t have videos.
Try to be exact with search terms. Otherwise, your results may be too broad. However, within the results, you can find related searches and collection suggestions, so that you can hone in on your preferred photo. You can upload an image you have in the visual search engine to find similar images to the one you have. Plus, if you sign up for an account, you can contact Unsplash photographers who are available for hire.
Best for: Creating your own graphics using Canva’s free stock photos
|60 million+ images||More restrictions on some photo usage|
|Free forever account||Must pay to remove watermarks on Pro images (or get a paid account)|
|Graphics and publishing tool|
Canva’s primary use is as an online publishing tool. You can create graphics, presentations, logos, and videos, for example, for free. Not all of Canva’s 60 million images are free to use, though, unless you don’t mind a watermark. There are nearly 1 million completely free images and graphics you can use for personal and professional use, but to get a one-time license for a Pro image, you must pay (usually $1 per image). Or, you can get a paid account to use all media for free.
In addition to the graphic design tools, images, videos, and elements, Canva also saves all your designs, so you can download or print them again. Plus, you can use Canva’s free templates to save time, such as when creating Facebook or Instagram posts, logos, posters, and invitations.
Best for: Browsing one of the largest libraries of free images (many with Creative Commons licensing)
|2 billion+ images||More restrictions than other free image sites|
|Search by color, collection, and pattern||Large ad at top of results pages|
|SafeSearch on by default to eliminate mature content||Many images include watermarks and names|
Flickr is a veritable treasure trove of free images on the internet. Much like other free stock photo sites, you can search for any image you need and likely find it. The advanced search can help you narrow your search by photo, video, size, and orientation.
Perhaps the most helpful filter, though, is the copyright restrictions drop-down filter. To use an image from Flickr safely, you should look for Creative Commons licensed media, which may restrict how you can use the image and how you should attribute the photographer. Some licenses allow you to use images for non-commercial use only, while others may allow modification or for commercial use.
6. Same Energy
Best for: Visual searching to find images or art with Creative Commons licensing
|19 million+ images||Results aren’t often exact|
|Get related results as you click on each image||Many images come from other sites (Flickr, Reddit, Instagram, and so forth)|
|Search by words, images, or collection/topic|
Same Energy is one of the newest free image sites, and it handles searches for images a little differently. The home page shows you a mix of images that may or may not have anything to do with one another. The idea is that you browse and click to find images you want or need, which makes it a good method of finding inspiration visually.
You can type in a search term and find images that match, but the results are sometimes mixed. The source for the images at Same Energy could be from a number of other public sites, so you may see duplicates if you use other photo sites to find professional images. Plus, you’ll have to check each image to find what sort of license it uses before you can use it on your own site.
Best for: Downloading a large library of stock images for a low price
|4,000+ free photos||Smaller database of photos than competitors|
|Download all images (for a fee)||Limited results|
You’re likely to find images on Picjumbo you won’t find elsewhere because this free image site is full of one photographer’s photos. All of the images are free to use if you download them one at a time. If you’d like access to the photographer’s whole collection of photos, you can pay $15 for the kit.
Picjumbo doesn’t have a huge selection of photos, and there’s a good chance that some of your searches will come back with zero results. Picjumbo offers alternatives in the form of paid stock advertisements.
Best for: Free images for bloggers—especially food and lifestyle bloggers
|20,000+ free images||May not find what you need|
|All photos have a very similar aesthetic, lending to a cohesive website||Smaller library than competitors|
Kaboompics offers a library of more than 20,000 free photos for any project—as long as you’re not selling the image or redistributing. Every image was shot and edited by one woman, and as such, they all have a similar quality to them. Most of the photos would work well for blogs, especially for blogs that feature housewares, holidays, food, and lifestyle themes.
Best for: Finding free graphics and vector illustrations
|12.9 million+ images||Requires a monthly subscription to access most images|
|Wide variety of images and illustrations||Must include attribution unless you join the membership|
|Not all images are high quality|
Freepik offers nearly as many stock images as top competitor sites, but to get access to the more than 12 million images, you’ll have to sign up for a membership, and that’s not free. Still, you’re likely to find what you’re looking for that is free, but you’ll have to adhere to Freepik’s usage policy. You can use images for any of your projects, but you need to provide attribution.
Best for: Creating product mock-ups with your branding or free stock images
|Free account available||Limited features in free account|
|7,000+ mockups available|
The best use of Smartmockups is as a mock-up generator for product images. It’s a graphic design tool that lets you use its thousands of mock-up images to create your own branded products using your images, stock images, or illustrations. So, small businesses that want to show off books, branding, apps, or websites would do well with Smartmockups.
You can get a free account forever, but it’s extremely limited. You can upload an image you’ve downloaded, or an image from Dropbox, Canva, or a URL. Smartmockups offers isolated and photo mock-ups, so you can create a product image or a product image with people and a background from a stock photo.
Best for: Free animated stock images, stock footage, and audio clips
|Wide variety of stock images, videos, animated backgrounds, and so on||No free plan|
|1 million+ stock footage||Includes video editor|
|433,000+ photos and illustrations|
Storyblocks is a stock photo, video, and animation site. It’s a membership-only library, so you’ll have to pay to gain access to any of the professional images, video, or audio you want to use. Searching footage is easy, and you can filter by type of media you need.
You can create a free account on Storyblocks’ free video editor. Plus, you can easily search and import Storyblocks’ images, footage, and audio from the editor. This is a great way to use Storyblocks for free, but everything you create and export will have a watermark until you upgrade to a paid plan.
Best for: Free stock video and audio clips
|5.1 million+ stock photos, graphics, video, and audio||Limited to 12 assets with the free account|
|Free account available|
|Wide range of asset types available|
Envato Elements is a stock photo and footage site that offers free and paid accounts. You can use any of the digital content for personal or commercial use with the Envato license, with a few guidelines that are fairly standard for stock assets. Envato offers a wide variety of asset types, including graphics, photos, video, music, sound effects, and fonts.
13. Adobe Stock
Best for: Free photos, graphics, and videos from a well-known brand
|70,000+ free photos, videos, and graphics||Limited stock reserve|
|Multiple filters to narrow your search|
Adobe Stock is well known for its paid plans and assets, but it also offers a free section. You can find thousands of photos, illustrations, and videos free to use for personal or professional projects. There are multiple filters you can employ to get precisely what you need. For example, you can search for a digital asset that includes or excludes people.
While these particular images are free to use, you still need to sign up for an account with Adobe Stock. It only asks for an email address, the country you live in, and your birthday.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What’s the best image mock-up generator?
The best image mock-up generator is Placeit, a product from Envato. There are more than 70,000 templates to choose from, and you can get a free account to create mock-ups, videos, and designs online. See what else you can create with Placeit.
What can I use instead of stock photos?
If you can’t find what you need from the multiple free stock photo sites for your website, you could always purchase artwork, graphics, and photography from places like Creative Market and Envato. Of course, if you need something custom, you can hire a professional to create it. You may be surprised to learn how affordable it can be when you find a freelancer via Fiverr. Alternatively, if you’re building a website, you can hire a web designer, which may include media for your site.
Can you use stock photos for free?
The best answer to this is: sometimes. Whether you can use stock photos for free depends on the licensing. Some licenses allow you to use an image free for personal use, while others require you to purchase a license to use an image for commercial or professional use. Some require attribution, while others don’t. A license ensures that photographers can make money by selling stock photos online.
Finding free stock photos has become much easier with so many great creators and sites that offer fair licensing—many for free. You can join multiple stock photo sites to find the professional images and videos you need for all your projects—personal and commercial. And if you can’t seem to find exactly what you’re looking for, you can always hire a graphic designer to customize and Photoshop free stock photos for as little as $5 on Fiverr.
You Might Also Like…
- New businesses need a lot of tools to help them sell, grow, market, and publish, but do you need a customer relationship manager (CRM) or content management system (CMS)? Maybe both.
- Now that you can source your stock photos for free, find out how much a website costs to build.
- Stop sending email from that old AOL account—set up a professional email address.