Before we jump to the list, it’s important to go through the types of image licenses which you may come across in your search:
- Copyright – All Rights Reserved – you can’t use the image
- Creative Commons – comprises of different levels of license, some of which enable reuse and image modification. For a more in-depth analysis of the different types of license, check out our Creative Commons blog.
Some of the websites below will have their own type of license and will make it clear what you can and can’t do with the images. Even if they are labelled “free” some restrictions might apply, so it’s advisable to check the rules before you use any images for your own projects.
Google image search
You search for all kinds of solutions on Google every day, but did you know there is a way to use it to find free images for your content marketing? Type in your query and then select the images tab. Click on “Tools” and then on “Usage rights” and you’ll see a number of options:
- labelled for reuse with modification
- labelled for reuse
- labelled for noncommercial reuse with modification
- labelled for noncommercial reuse
Your best options are the first two. Labelled for reuse with modification means that you can use the images for your own projects (including commercial) and amend them to suit your content activity. Labelled for reuse means you can use the images as they are (including commercial).
I would recommend double-checking that the image you have your eyes on is indeed free to use by clicking on it and then selecting “Visit page” from the options on the right. This will take you to the page where Google found it. Look for licensing details such as whether you can reuse it as it is for commercial purposes, whether you can modify it and whether you need to credit the author. Sometimes you’ll find that the image has been sourced from another website so you’ll have to follow the trail to the original.
Flickr is probably the next largest source of free images after Google with over 10 billion images available. The website contains a collection of photos uploaded by over 75 million registered Flickr photographers. You have to create an account to add your images, but anyone can access them without registering.
Similar to Google, you can filter your search by type of license. The ones that you’re looking for are ‘commercial use allowed’ and ‘commercial use & mods allowed’.
The advanced filters allow you to search by colour, size, orientation, date taken and other options. If you click on an image, it’ll open in a new page you’ll see the type of licence in the bottom right of the page.
Unsplash offers a range of beautiful, high-quality images. You can choose from a range of categories such as nature, current events, architecture, animals, spirituality, travel or experimental. What is different about the website is the “Collections” section where you can see photos curated by users around different themes or topics. If you sign up to the website, you can create your own collections.
The images are free to use under the Unsplash Licence. After you download an image you’ll see a message on the screen saying that credit isn’t required but it’s a nice thing to do because it helps photographers gain exposure. You’re also given a bit of text that you can use with the image to give credit to the author if you want to.
Pexels is similar to Unsplash – it contains aspirational photos and themed collections. Filters let you find the most popular photos, collections, searches and a leaderboard. All the images are under the Pexels license which allows commercial and non-commercial use, modification and doesn’t require attribution.
Besides free images, Pixabay is also a good source for free short videos. There is a wider variety of image types among the 1 million images it makes available – photos, vectors and illustrations. It can be used on the go on your mobile as it also comes in an app format for both iOS and Android devices. The Pixabay licence allows anyone to use the images for commercial purposes without having to give credit to the source.
The Stocksnap team curate the best photos from all the submissions they receive from photographers. With exactly 100 categories to choose from, this website is good for niche topics such as beer, students, hands, trees and many other. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, the website’s tag system can help you find the images that convey the right mood, feeling, sense, or content for your needs.
Powered by the e-commerce platform Shopify, Burst is more business-oriented but still offers thousands of images on a range of topics. A good place to go if you’re looking for more niche images for different industries such as selling candles, beach towels, enamel pins and LED sneakers.
It helps promote emerging photographers by making available some of their work. A good collection of flat lays, people, food and landscapes. It offers a range of curated packs which you can download in exchange for a tweet.
You might just get a bit hungry scrolling through the images on this platform. As the name indicates, this website targets the food and health industries with more than 1000 images of freshly picked vegetables and fruits, steaming cooked food and cool-looking drinks. If your business has anything at all to do with food or drinks this site could soon become your bread and butter.
You’ll be a big fan of this one if you like quirky, highly creative and unique images. The website was created by Ryan McGuire – a graphic and web designer passionate about experimenting with visual art. Completely free of copyright restrictions, Gratisography images will really make your project stand out and grab attention. The “Whimsical” category will definitely make you smile.
New Old Stock
Another useful source of interesting images that will give your business a unique visual identity. Browse from hundreds of curated vintage images from the public archives that are free of known copyright restrictions. The photos are free for personal and non-commercial use, but double checking the rights is recommended – just follow the link to the original source. The website also offers packs of images that can be used for commercial purposes for a fee.
A collection of feminine stock photography. This website is perfect for any business or personal project that involves beautiful, clean and crisp images of objects usually associated with women. You can find anything from beauty products, computer desktops and fashion to flowers, food, lifestyle and mugs which can be filtered by colour to match your brand.
Death to the Stock Photo
As the name of the site denotes, you won’t find your typical stock-y photos here. No groups of happy people wearing colourful clothes or business people shaking hands. If you’re looking for more realistic but still relevant images, you’re in the right place. The way the website works is different too – you register your email and you receive 20 new photos in your inbox every month. The team behind the concept work with a group of international photographers who have also collaborated with famous brands such as Nike, Soho House, Adidas and Vogue.
If vectors and icons are more your cup of tea, then you’ll like Freepik. The website offers over 1.5 million images and more than 30 categories of vectors, icons and photos to choose from, including collections on specific topics. Moreover, you can download the files in .ai or .eps formats and some of them in .psd.
And the list goes on…
Still can’t find what you’re looking for? There are plenty of other sites you can try:
- MMT Stock
- Life of Pix
- Little Visuals
- Jay Mantri
- Negative Space
- Startup Stock Photos
- Good Stock Photos
- ISO Republic
- Pik Wizard
- Public Domain Archive
Do you know any other good websites for free stock images? Let us know in the comments below.