As a content editor, I have spent many hours searching for free stock photos to jazz up blog posts, accentuate tweets and illustrate news articles.
It can be a challenge to a) find an image that’s not really cheesy and b) find one that is royalty free and can be used for commercial purposes. Hint: if an image has a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, you can copy, modify or distribute it without permission.
There are lots of websites offering free images so this isn’t an extensive list, but these are the sites I like using. They either have a large catalogue of good quality images or they offer something a bit different. They’re all easy to use and, where necessary, have a good search.
Pixabay is my go-to stock photo site. It has thousands of free images that can be used for commercial purposes and require no attribution. It also offers vector graphics, illustrations and videos.
Pixabay has recently launched a free mobile app too, which is really useful for social media on the go.
A respectable catalogue with a good layout and easy search. It is not as extensive as Pixabay and doesn’t offer vector graphics or videos. But, there are still plenty of high quality photos licensed under CC0. The Pexels popular searches are great if you’re in need of some inspiration.
Like Pexels, StockSnap’s popular searches feature also displays photos by category. A useful tool when you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for or can’t think of the best search term to use.
A stock photo site with a difference. Sign up for free and you’ll receive a downloadable collection of high-res images to your inbox every month. Each collection follows a theme such as ‘Cuban underground’ and ‘Wild imagination’. You can expect artistic, stylish photos from Death to Stock, not your run-of-the-mill ‘men in suits, shaking hands’.
Starting out life as a Tumblr blog in 2013, Unsplash has now developed into a thriving photographic hub. As with Death to Stock, Unsplash prides itself on offering high quality, creative images. Far removed from the traditional, cheesy stock photos we are all too familiar with. You can sign up to receive 10 photos to your inbox every 10 days, or you can just visit the website and search for what you’re looking for.
Placeit creates product mockups. Either upload a screenshot or enter a URL and Placeit will generate a number of mockups on a range of devices.
Although not as sleek as some of the other sites, Rgbstock does offer a pretty good selection of photos. Search results are displayed as small thumbnails with the image dimensions, making it really easy to quickly scan the results. The downside – these images are not licensed under CC0 so make sure you check the license agreement. You also need to register with the site to start downloading.
This minimalistic site certainly doesn’t offer the largest collection of free photos but I love the fact you can search for images by colour. Not only that, it also displays the colour palette of every photograph. A useful tool for those of us who like to be colour coordinated.
No time to search for photos?
If you don’t have time to individually search for and download a range of stock photos, then this offer from HubSpot might be for you. In exchange for your email, you’ll get over 80 royalty free photos in one downloadable swoop. The collection is based on the most popular stock photo keyword searches. They may not be the most groundbreaking photos you’ll ever see, but they require no attribution, they’re easy to access and free!
Now you’ve found your images, what’s the best way to edit them for your website? My next blog post will offer some handy tips. Watch this space…