If a picture says a thousand words – a bad stock photo says all the wrong ones.
A single image of an awkward handshake, a cringeworthy meeting, or a fake food pic can be all it takes to lose a potential customer – not to mention your credibility as a brand and a business.
In our increasingly image-conscious world, it’s more important than ever to find high-quality stock photos for your social media, website, digital products, and more.
But trying to find the right image can be time-consuming and expensive.
That’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive list of the best free stock photo sites online – with polished, professional, and authentic images that you can rely on.
Here are the best free photo sites in 2023 and exactly why we like them.
NB: While these sites are listed as free photo sites, always double-check the permissions and licensing before you use any content!
Top 10 best free stock photo sites in 2023
15 more top free stock photo sites you need to know
- Life of Pix
- Startup Stock Photos
- Free Images
- New Old Stock
Top 10 best free stock photo sites in 2023
|Best free photo sites||Pros||Cons|
Powered by creators everywhere, Unsplash is the internet’s go-to source of free stock photos. Search from over 3 million high-resolution photos across a wide range of categories – including textures and patterns, street photography, and 3D renders.
Upgrade to Unplash’s paid community – Unsplash+ – to access exclusive members-only content, with new images added monthly. Unplash+ also offers unlimited royalty-free downloads and enhanced legal protections for commercial projects, so you can have peace of mind that your creative projects are covered.
Fun fact: Unsplash supports multiple languages, making it ideal for businesses working across a range of locations.
Get access to over 4 million free stock photos on Pixabay. This platform is home to a talented community of creators offering a wide range of free stock photos, plus video, audio, and royalty-free music.
Take advantage of Pixabay’s vast library to find photos, illustrations, and icons to suit whatever project you’re working on – as well as animated GIFs, creative sound effects, and background music for YouTube videos. All Pixabay content is free to use – but they do warn that depicted content may be protected by trademarks, publicity or privacy rights. Read their content license summary to make sure you’re adhering to legal requirements for usage.
Pexels offer free stock photos, royalty-free images, and free HD videos on their platform, all shared by a global community of creators. Browse through their curated collections – and discover new photos added every day.
To encourage creativity in their community, Pexels hosts challenges and competitions, as well as running sponsored exhibitions. They have a wide range of different curated boards where you can search through their extensive photo collections, including top leaderboards to showcase trending creators on the platform.
Start an account on Pexels to organize photos based on your projects, create moodboards, or just collect photos you like. Pexels Collections can be public or private. Your profile also shows you automatic collections of the photos you’ve Liked and downloaded. Take a look at the Pexels Discover page to get inspired by collections from the Pexels curation team and get your creative juices flowing.
Best known as a graphic design platform, Canva has a wide range of free stock photos that are ideal for use on social media, websites, presentations, and more. Search Canva Photos to browse through their collections of stock images from Pexels and Pixabay, then use Canva’s built-in editor to enhance and personalize the images to your needs.
Canva has a range of subscription options on offer – use the Free plan to access more than 1 million stock photos, or upgrade to a paid subscription to access their exclusive premium content. Their intuitive mobile app also lets you browse, download and edit images on-the-go.
Offering stock photography, music, footage, and editing tools, Shutterstock is one of the best-known royalty-free photo sites around – and also one of the largest. To date there are more than 310 million photos on the platform, along with templates, sound effects, video and more.
Shutterstock includes simple design tools to help you edit and customize images to your needs – including removing backgrounds and creating custom font pairings. In 2023, Shutterstock added an AI image generation tool to their platform that lets you input a prompt to create your own images using AI – the possibilities are literally endless.
Get your first 10 image downloads for free on Shutterstock – but you’ll need to sign up for a paid subscription to access more. Shutterstock offers the option to purchase a month-to-month or annual subscription, or make one-off payments for their content.
Founded with the goal of offering the best high-quality content to individuals and organizations alike, Freepik has built a loyal following of 18 million monthly users. The platform specializes in creative photographs, illustrations, and vector images.
Choose from Free or Premium plans on Freepik to access their library of free stock photos. The Premium plan gives you access to a wider range of images, vectors, and videos, as well as a built-in icon editor and unlimited downloads. It’s important to note that Freepik requires attribution if you’re using their stock photos for personal or commercial use on the Free plan.
Burst was created to offer designers, developers and entrepreneurs the best free stock photos and images – for creative projects, websites, social media, and more.
As it’s powered by Shopify, Burst is tailored to small businesses. Many of the photo collections on the platform are organized into separate businesses, including product images for eCommerce sites featuring images of items commonly found on Aliexpress. Photos are separated according to different product categories like candles, hats, and more so it’s easy to find what you’re looking for.
Burst also highlights the top photos of the week, while showcasing the categories that are trending at the moment – and new photos are added to the library every week. Subscribe to the mailing list to get early access to Burst content.
Looking for something a bit more quirky? Gratisography has built one of the most whimsical collections of high-resolution free stock images on the web that you won’t find on most generic stock photo sites.
With categories ranging from Funky Food to Goofy Grownups – these photos are full of life and creativity, offering creators and businesses something more unique. If you’re looking for free stock images that are a little different, you’re in the right place. You also have the option to sign up to the Gratisography mailing list to get alerts when new images are added to the site.
First started by passionate photographer Viktor Hanacek, Picjumbo is a completely free stock photo site that’s dedicated to high-quality photographic images. Picjumbo offers instant downloads with no registration, sign up, or payment details required. Simply choose the photo you want and hit download – with the option for a voluntary donation to support the photographer and the platform.
Suitable for both personal and commercial use, Picjumbo’s image bank is ideal for finding high-resolution business and tech photos. Subscribe to the Picjumbo newsletter to get more free images direct to your inbox – and if you want access to the full library, sign up for a premium subscription.
This free photo site is a “one woman show” founded by Karolina Grabowska who shoots, edits, and produces all of the images on the site herself. Since its creation, the platform has gathered over 6 million impressions and 21 million downloads.
With a library of authentic and high-quality stock photos, Kaboompics is a niche free photo site that’s all about pairing the right projects with the right images. Kamboompics organizes photos into whole photo shoots – simply find an image you like and click on it to open up a whole album of images from that photo shoot. You can also search for Kaboompics photos by color, image orientation, category, and keywords. Sort images by newest and oldest photos, as well as most downloaded and least downloaded.
All photos from Kaboompics are completely free to use and attribution isn’t required – though it’s appreciated.
15 more top free stock photo sites you need to know
graphic design brand Snappa, this free stock photo site offers a ton of different categories for their photos – many of which are added to daily. All photos on StockSnap have been released under the Creative Commons CC0 license, so they’re completely free of copyright restrictions and can be used for any projects you can think of – including commercial uses.
Find images using the search bar, browse through collections, or see the site’s most popular free images on their Trending tab. Want to save an image for later? Create an account to Like photos and gather your collections of images all in one place.
Twinned with Life of Vids, these two sister sites both offer free high-resolution photos and videos, with no copyright restrictions on personal and commercial use. New photos and video clips are added to both platforms weekly, so there’s plenty of fresh content for you to choose from. Life of Pix also features their favorite photographer of the week to help you find cool work from new creators for your next project.
Tailored to organizations and entrepreneurs, the Startup Stock Photos platform has a wide range of free office, startup and tech stock images ready and waiting to be used. They showcase high-quality stock photos of startup teams in various business and commercial settings. Their mission? Create awesome photos for startups, publishers, freelancers, designers, developers – and everyone else!
Reshot is a unique free photo site specializing in icons, illustrations, and vectors. Create your dream designs quickly and easily with instant downloads – and zero sign-ups, paywalls, or watermarks to worry about. Reshot’s commercial license is applicable to both commercial and non-commercial projects, so you can use their free stock images without fear.
Offering over 138,000 free stock photos with new images added every day, Stockvault has plenty of unique designs and collections with photos, textures, illustrations, and more. Their aim is to collect and archive high-resolution photographs that photographers, designers, and students can share and use for their personal and non-commercial design projects – but just make sure to check the licensing requirements before you use them.
With a library of free graphic resources, Rawpixel offers designers, creators, and businesses thousands of free stock photos to choose from. Explore their carefully curated topic categories to find design resources, illustrations, PNG elements, and more. Sign up for a Free membership to get unlimited downloads from their Public Domain collection and 5 images per day from the Free collection – or choose a monthly or yearly paid subscription to access their Premium content.
With over 2,500,000 registered users and around 400,000 photos online, Free Images is a free stock photo site that’s built on hand-picked, high-quality images from photographers and artists. Discover and download beautiful images, stock photos, illustrations, vectors, and more. And of course, all the content on Free Images is free for personal and commercial use.
Designed for creative professionals, ShotStash offers free stock images with a focus on quality rather than quantity. They carefully curate thousands of photographs to offer the best stock images to creators. Whether you’re looking for photographs for your website, social media, client projects, or anything in between – all ShotStash photographs are free and under an all-inclusive CC0 license with no restrictions for use.
Nappy is a free stock photo site that was founded to provide authentic, high-quality photographs of black and brown people for brands, agencies, startups, and anyone else. The platform makes it easy for brands to be intentional about representation in their work – and all photos are completely free and licensed under the CC0 license.
In a pinch? Sometimes it’s best to keep things simple and straightforward! Search for a specific image using Skitterphoto and download it instantly for free. Their site is user-friendly and organized into clear categories to help you find exactly what you are looking for with no account sign up needed.
Choose from millions of royalty-free stock images on Vecteezy. A free membership gives you the option to download over 300 CC0 images, but if you want access to the whole library, you’ll need to sign up for a paid membership. Subscriptions start from $9 per month for an annual unlimited subscription – or choose a one-off payment for On-Demand downloads.
Download, edit and share stock photos for free with Pikwizard, a photo sharing platform that boasts over 1 royalty-free million images. Find your ideal stock photos super fast – with zero hidden fees or membership subscriptions.
This is the perfect site if you’re looking to add a vintage touch to your next project. New Old Stock is recapturing a slice of history and showcasing vintage photos from the public archives as free stock photos. Thanks to their age, these images are free of any known copyright restrictions, so you can use them for both private and commercial projects.
If all you need are pictures of delicious-looking food, Foodiesfeed has got you covered. Search their library of over 2500 high-quality free stock photos full of mouth-watering, colorful and creative food pics. The site is easy to use with all the images divided up into categories of different foods and drinks, as well as a feed (no pun intended!) of top trending free food photos.
One of the earliest free photo sites on the web, Morguefile was founded in 1996 as a platform meant “for creatives, by creatives”. All images on Morguefile are free to use for commercial or private projects, contributed by a global community of photographers and creators. Check out their Trending Photos tab to see what’s popular right now or browse through the collection by category and keyword.
Find authentic stock images with these top free photo sites
These free stock photo sites are dedicated to providing beautiful, high-quality photographs that you can use in your next project with pride. If you needed a sign to overhaul your current photo bank – this is it. Use these sites to find free stock photos that you can get truly excited about – for client projects, personal use, social media, and more.
Looking to create your own digital products? Try Thinkific for free today.
This blog was originally published in July 2022, it has since been updated in September 2023.