Stock photos can be expensive and, at times, fairly cheesy (who doesn’t love those ‘diverse’ office shots?), so why not choose from the vast selection of artistic, professional, FREE images?
Here is our list of the Top 5 sites for totally free stock photos.
All of these sites state that their images are completely free to use for personal or commercial purposes, under Creative Commons CC0.
Life of Pix has nearly 700 gorgeous images, and new videos are added weekly.
The site has a Search function, however you cannot browse through predefined categories, which is what I sometimes prefer to do when I don’t know what exactly I’m looking for (until I see it).
Life of Pix is particularly special in terms of free stock photo sites, not only because of their stunning collection of images, but because they also have a selection of stock videos, through their partner site, Life of Vids.
Life of Vids has over 100 royalty-free videos, clips, and loops, available to download through Vimeo, and new videos are added to the site weekly.
The main two reasons Life of Pix/Life of Vids only made #5 on our list are:
a) relatively limited selection of images with only marginally varying content
b) cannot browse images by category
That being said, it still made the list out of dozens of free stock photo sites.
Life Of Pix is curated by LEEROY, a web agency in Montreal.
SplitShire is similar to LoP/LoV due to the fact that they also offer videos, however their selection is extremely limited. As of this writing there are only five available for download, and there are no previews of the videos.
SplitShire makes up for this, however, with hands down the best quality images available for free use, with a fairly wide range of subject matter.
This large collection of images has been published free to use for personal and commercial purposes by photographer Daniel Nanescu. For those looking for a larger number of pictures, SplitShire also offers a premium service for $20/year, which is quite reasonable.
The site is searchable and enables users to browse different categories. I have fallen in love with SplitShire’s selection of ‘food’ category images. Not many free stock photo sites offer food-related choices, aside from grapes and other “outdoor” foods it seems.
If SplitShire can increase the number of videos available, it might earn a higher ranking on our list.
Pexels has been my third-ranking go-to for awhile now, due to the high volume of images in their catalogue. The images are searchable both through a search box, and by photo tags, which is ultimately similar enough to browsing by category.
Many of the photos available have also been optimized for text addition.
The images on Pexels are all astoundingly gorgeous and high resolution, and I can’t even estimate the number of images available for download – they add ten new images daily!
#2 StockSnap.io featuring Snappa
Our runner up pick for totally free stock photos is StockSnap.
StockSnap has the second highest number of available images that I’ve encountered, and the quality is second to none. Dozens of new images are added daily.
You can search for images using the provided search box, through image tags, or browse their entire collection using sort functions (date added, trending, number of views, downloads, or favourites).
StockSnap also has an affiliate site, Snappa. Snappa is a great little tool for the digital marketer who isn’t really a graphic designer.
Snappa enables you to choose a pre-sized template (ie. Twitter post, blog header, Facebook ad), and then select from a predefined text template, or create from scratch. You can then edit the background image, choosing from one of the thousands of StockSnap images and backgrounds, or upload your own. You can also add text, shapes, and icons, and edit fonts, colours, and transparency.
When you’re done creating your graphic, simply download it as a .png to your computer! The site is also promising
upcoming Facebook and Twitter integration, so you’ll be able to share the image directly from the Snappa design page.
ETA: as of November 4, 2015, this feature is available!
It is very difficult to NOT find what you’re looking for with StockSnap, but when you can’t, there’s…
Our number one pick is the ultimate in free stock photos and videos – Pixabay.
Pixabay offers 500,000 free images and videos, including the elusive vector. Their search tools are fantastic, and so far I have been able to find absolutely anything I’m looking for, with some creative tag inquiries. From your classic business images to architecture and landscapes, to thousands of customizable vectors, I guarantee Pixabay will be your number one too.
So there you have it. Our top five sites for absolutely, 100% FREE stock photos.
Of course there will be times when you’re looking for something extremely specific, or something branded. In those cases, your best bet is still the paid stock photo sites, like Shutterstock. The fees are quite high (per-use rates are almost $30US for two images, subscriptions start at $169US/mth), but if you’re marketing for business, you can add the image fee to your client’s invoice.
***Please try to credit the photo author or link back where possible. They’ve been kind enough to share their work for free, so it’s the least we can do.
Is there a site we haven’t discovered yet? Share with us in the comments or Tweet us at @SolutionsDaly!