Whether you’re building a beautiful website, creating a brochure or postcard for your business, or creating a presentation, you need gorgeous stock photos to make your work stand out. While you can pay a lot of money for stock photos, luckily, there are a lot of websites where you can get gorgeous stock photos at no cost. They’re royalty free, so you can use them on your marketing materials without spending a cent or worrying about attribution.
The sites I’ve curated below offer free stock photos that are also beautiful and artistic, not the cheesy photos that look like they come from a stock photo site. Whether you need photos of food, technology, nature, or a beautiful mix, these sites may have what you’re looking for.
Unsplash is my favorite place to find royalty free stock photos. Many of the photos depict natural scenes and landscapes, and there are also shots of people, food, technology, and pretty much anything else you can think to search for. I love these photos because they are all beautifully shot by amazing photographers. They hand pick new photos to add to their collection everyday.
You can type in a search phrase in the bar at the top, you can peruse the photos based on topic, or you can even check out their curated collections for extra inspiration. You can also browse by photographer if you find someone whose work you love.
Pexels offers another great collection of free stock photos. Many of their photos are sourced from other free stock photo collections throughout the web, like Pixabay, Burst, and Gratisography. Users can also upload photos, so there are many photos on Pexels that you can’t find anywhere else on the web.
Much like Unsplash, on Pexels, you can search for any topic and you’ll be presented with hundreds of photos to choose from. The nice thing is that they curate their photos, so you know you’ll be getting the best photos from each of the sites.
You can also check out their trending photos on their home screen, but beware — if a photo is trending, that means it’s being used by a lot of other people, so you may not want to use it in your marketing if you want to stand out.
Flickr is a unique platform that allows users to upload and organize their photos. They can then make their photos available for commercial or personal use. As a result, you’ll find a gigantic assortment of photos here. You can search based on orientation, color, size, and even depth of field. Just make sure you specify the type of license to make sure you’re only searching photos that are available for commercial use or public domain. You’ll find the license submenu on the far left of the gray section below all of the search fields. Just click on the word “license” and then select an option that includes the words “available for commercial use / No known copywright restictions / US Government Work”
Pixabay offers a huge variety of stock photos and graphics in every category, from pets to food to technology. One of the unique benefits of Pixabay is that it allows you to search by image type. You can limit your search to just photos, or you can even search for vectors or illustrations. The search engine also allows you to specify size, orientation, and colors, so if you are looking for something specific, it’s a great site to use.
There are two downsides of Pixabay, however:
- Some of the photos are cheesier than what you’ll find on other stock photo sites, so you may need to do a bit more sifting.
- The photos at the top of the search page aren’t free — they’re from Shutterstock, which costs quite a bit of money. Make sure you choose photos that don’t contain watermarks.
Kaboom Pics was created by Karolina, a Poland-based photographer. All of the photos on the site were taken by her, and she offers a unique free stock photo experience. As in the other sites I’ve mentioned, you can enter a search term and find photos of nature, technology, food, etc.
In addition, Karolina provides a color palette to go with every photo in her collection. You can use it to make sure the photos fit with your color scheme or to create a custom color palette for a brochure, flyer, or other marketing material.
When you open a photo from Karolina’s collection, you will also see all of the other photos from the shoot in which your selected photo was taken. Then, you can incorporate other similar photos into your marketing or you can choose an alternate from the one you originally chose.
ISO Republic is a great place to find photos for your business, especially if you’re looking for shots that feature technology, urban scenes, architecture, or people. While you won’t find as many photos here as you would on some of the other sites I’ve mentioned, every photo on this site is artistic and interesting.
Beware, however: your search will bring up lots of free photos, but you’ll also see alternative suggestions along the top of your screen from Twenty20 that are paid. When you pull up a specific photo, you’ll also see more Twenty20 photos on the side of your screen.
If your brand leans toward the whimsical side, you’ll love Gratisography, a collection of photos by photographer Ryan McGuire. McGuire’s photos are colorful, gorgeous, and unforgettable. Here you’ll find a photo of a dog licking an ice cream cone, flying whale, a cat in a tie, and many other strange and memorable scenes. There are shots of more “standard’ nature scenes and animals, as well. Come here to be inspired, to laugh, and to find unusual stock photos.
Think twice before you pay for another stock photo
Now that you know about these wonderful stock photo sites, you’ll know where to look before spending money on expensive stock photos! Whether you’re looking for photos of people working, cute animals, food, or any other topic, you’ll find what you’re looking for in these great free stock photo sites.