Where Can I Find the Best and Most Beautiful Free Stock Photos?
Not every blogger, digital marketer, or social media influencer is gifted in photography. Stock images have become a means for those without this talent or lack of time to acquire pictures for their marketing content. While many image sites charge a fee for using a picture of a sandwich on a plate facing the sunrise, there are still many un-grainy and beautiful pictures from royalty-free sites.
You no longer have to use the cheesy and tacky famous photo of people shaking hands as there is a massive library of high-quality images at your fingertips. Free stock images can be used on your social media posts, blog articles, and pages. Yes, you may need to give credit to the owner, as we will see below, but the images are safe to use.
Stock photos provide a free and easy way to boost engagement, build your brand, and give your blog or social media posts an aesthetic look.
However, you shouldn’t infringe on the owner’s copyrights. As a content creator you have to read the fine print when it comes to using free stock images. Otherwise, you risk having your site taken down or face endless lawsuits.
Table of Contents
How to Avoid Being Held Legally-Liable for Using Free-Stock Photos?
Avoid Using Google Photos
Never use the images that you have just downloaded from Google image search or any other search engine. Google isn’t a free stock photo site. The first results you get are paid Google ads by pro stock photo sites like Shutterstock or Adobe Stock. They have licensed photos that you can’t use unless you pay for them. Don’t expose yourself to possible litigation when you can avoid it.
The Unanticipated Catch in Free Image Sites
Whenever you think this is too good to be true, chances are it’s probably true. You can google ‘free stock photo sites for download’ and click on the first site that pops up. Most free photos are waived for free use under Public Domain, Creative Commons, or related licenses. Nonetheless, this doesn’t make them safe for commercial use unless it’s stated as so on the legal background. Again, don’t get your business in trouble when you can avoid it.
What is Meant by the Creative Commons License?
Creative Commons (CC) License was developed to give artists a way to avail their work free of charge to be used by others but under specific regulations. Most royalty-free image websites use the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) with fewer limitations. Some royalty-free photos aren’t for commercial projects, while others need you to attribute the artist.
What Risk is in Using CC0 License for Commercial Use?
There are still many copyright restrictions that come with CC images. To be on the safe side, always ensure that the owner is the one who submitted the license. With intermediaries operating most free photos sites, you might work with an invalid license infringing on the owner’s rights.
Keep in mind that you are responsible for every image you use on your site or social media pages. So, if you plan to use free stock photos for commercial purposes, play by the rules and have all your bases covered.
Now that we have this information, we rallied our troops to look into royalty-free stock photo sites that are safe for commercial use. Any blogger, digital marketer, or influencer should be comfortable using these free photos for both personal use and commercial projects.
These image sites have better policing, serious business backgrounds, known copyright owners, and strict review processes.
Let’s make the free stock image sites your oyster!
The Best Websites for Beautiful & Free Stock Photos 2023
Stencil has over 2 million royalty-free stock photos with more being added daily. It is not only a free image site but a graphic design platform. You can create eye-catching content easily using pre-made templates and 2000+ font styles available. Additionally, there are more than 100,000 inspirational quotes for your social media posts ready for download.
All free stock images use the CC0 license, making them fit for commercial use. Bloggers, business owners, and social media marketers can use it.
Easil is a DIY graphic design site that has numerous free stock images that you can use on your flyers, posters, social media graphics, or any marketing campaign. It offers a free brand kit that has templates, colors, images, fonts, and all requirements to make your brand stand out.
Royalty-free stock images are included on the Easil ‘Edge’ and ‘Plus’ subscriptions. However, you can access a vast stock image library (that allows you to pay-per-use) as Easil is integrated into the world’s top image libraries.
Early this year, Canva, an online graphic design platform, acquired Pixabay from the German tech experts Hans Braxmeier and Simon Steinberger. It has over 1 million high-resolution image files presented for free download. The images are crowdsourced from various artists around the globe using a professional curator to vet the images for legal validity.
Pixabay uses the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, so the images are fit for commercial use, and you don’t have to credit the owner. Being owned by Canva, your risk exposure is minimal compared to other sites.
Canva also bought Pexels in May 2019 from German tech brothers Bruno and Ingo Joseph. It has thousands of royalty-free stock photos. They have a vibrant and trendy catalog of high-resolution images submitted by artists globally.
Pexels also offers Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, so free photos can be used for commercial projects without giving photo credit.
Owned by graphic designer Ryan McGuire, he offers over 500 high-quality images he has taken himself for free. He has a very creative, quirky style that makes all photos far beyond ordinary stock photography.
This site is perfect for Instagram and other social media posts as they fun and visually unique in a way the young audience will love. Gratisography uses a custom license that is very similar to the CC0 license with a bit more due diligence on additional rights clearance.
However, it is the safest site to use because we all know the original image owner.
Unsplash started as a Tumblr blog that gave the remaining professional shots from an internal production for free. It was more of a CSR project that blew up into a stand-alone royalty-free stock image website.
They use a custom license that allows you to use the photos for commercial purposes but forbids image compiling. Unsplash photos are fit for social media as they are youthful, artsy, and modern in style. It acts as a display gallery for photographers showcasing their portfolios, reducing the chances of invalid submissions.
Rawpixel is a site owned by Robert Churchill, and it allows stock photography from qualified contributors. The free version limits you to only 100 downloads monthly of vibrant, trendy, and high-resolution images perfect for visual marketing.
Rawpixel has a custom license that offers the images free for commercial use but, no resale. Very good
for social media post.
StockVault is a royalty-free image site with over 100,000 photos sourced from all around the globe. You can use the photos for any creative purpose. They review photo submissions for technical quality.
They offer three licenses, commercial license, non-commercial license, and CC0 license. Most of the content is user-submitted so safe but, be cautious when using the photos for commercial projects.
Life of Pix was created by LEEROY, a Canadian digital marketing firm, to artsy free stock photos for common themes. The images have high-resolutions and created with a great eye. They also have a similar site dedicated to free videos so you can trust them on the image vetting.
They have a Public Domain license, so there are no copyright restrictions on the images. No credit is required for the artist, and you can use them for commercial purposes. However, the mass distribution of their royalty-free photos is forbidden.
In 2017, Shopify developed Burst to provide free stock photos for online stores or any other commercial purpose. The free images cover almost all commercial topics, including lifestyle, technology, fashion, fitness, portraits, business holidays, etc.
Burst has trending images that will do well on adverts, social media, eCommerce stores, and websites. They source their images from hired photographers, so they are high-quality and authentic in style.
They use two licenses, the CC0 license, and a custom license that using photos for product resales but prohibits compiling.
StockSnap.io is developed by Snappa creators Christopher Gimmer and Marc Chouinard. They offer thousands of their authentic, high-resolution images for free download. They have a very current photo library making it a good source for social media posts and advertising.
They use a Creative Commons Zero license only.
The image site is owned by the very experienced stock photography artist Viktor Hanacek. If you are looking for commercial ready royalty-free images, then PicJumbo is where you should be. Being a stock photographer, Viktor understands the licensing market, so he provides commercially viable photos.
PicJumbo has CC0 licensing but issues a warning on using trademarked or branded images.
SplitShire is packed with professional style photography from the archives of Daniel Nanesou. As a professional photographer, all photos are of high commercial value and come in handy on adverts, websites, blog posts, among other marketing needs.
The image size has a custom license very similar to Creative Commons Zero. But, it forbids you from reselling the original images. However, if you want to resell the pictures, you have to edit them first.
If you are into vintage or retro style, then this is where you should be. Cole Townsend developed New Old Stock to provide historic and vintage photography. He handpicks content from Flicker Commons listed organizations like museums, NASA, etc.
New Old Stock used Public Domain license but it’s subject to Flicker Commons, and other images require backlinks. The catch is dealing with each image licensing details every time you need to download a little bit tiresome.
The name says it all. This image site is a foodie haven with thousands of royalty-free stock images from food photographer Jakub Kapusnak. Foodies Feed has the perfect high-resolution images for food bloggers, influencers, websites, or any commercial food business.
They issue a CC0 license.
The ISO Republic is a mixture of trendy, artsy, and traditional photography on various common topics. Owned by Tom Eversley, it’s a combination of his photos and other user’s submissions. They use CC0 license so the images are free for commercial use and no attribution is required.
Are you looking for new photos with a high-end feel for your social media posts?
Karolina Grabowska, a designer and photographer, issues thousands of her fresh stock photos for free download. If you have a colorful brand, then Kaboom pics can provide an impressive photo collection for your website.
She has a custom license that warns against the reselling of images unless you make alterations and redistribution without permission. Also, caution is advised when using branded or trademarked images. Other than that, the photos are free for commercial use.
With over 20 years in the industry, Moguefile has thousands of photos for commercial and personal use. It was developed as a reference image site for teachers and creative professionals. All images are royalty-free and under the CC0 license.
As you can see, there are thousands of free stock images for everyone regardless of your brand specialty. You no longer have to spend money paying for high-resolution images. Additionally, these sites are safe for commercial use and cover you from litigations that may arise from search engine downloads.
It’s high-time you say bye, bye to cheesy photography and embrace free stock photography. Use these sites to boost your engagement and liven up your online presence.
Now you got it, folks!! Share with us which free stock image site you love most.