Ideal for your next website design project!
- Last updated: October 19, 2022
- Updated: June 7, 2018
- Updated: March 4, 2018
- Updated: November 19, 2017
- Published: November 2, 2017
This is an internal resource we use to find free for commercial use stock photos for websites we build. Sharing here so it helps you find what you’re looking for and help us move the web away from only using images that have that overly polished, bright, on-the-nose style that we think of when we think of “stock photos”
Unsplash is our top go to – decent tags so what you want is reasonably searchable as well as ability to log in and save your favorite shots in lists which automatically become available to all users. So not only is this content user generated by a lot of talented photographers, its also user organized which helps with search queries and finding what you want relatively quickly.
The only major con here is that a lot if not most of the photos are pretty artsy, lots of photo filters, and this becomes a challenge if you don’t have the ability to edit color/lighting in something like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom.
Pexels has a good mix of what you’ll find on Unsplash (a lot of duplicate photos across these two sources) and some traditional looking stock photos. So in additional to more natural looking photos, think shutterstock or bigstock photos where a lot of them are really unnatural bright lighting, white backgrounds. Basically, what you normally think of when you think of stock photography.
Pro Tip: Pexels has stock video footage as well. You can take the highest resolution video and pull down screenshots from it for your stock photos (just a thought).
Pretty similar to Pexels above.
- Has similar photos listed under a given photo’s page like paid stock photo sites do and its pretty good given their library size
- you have to log in for full resolution images, or go approx. 1920px width size
- if you don’t log in, you’ll get a captcha every time you download a photo which can be annoying if you’re downloading a lot quickly
- lots of shutterstock thumbnails all around
Often forgotten, and with over 87 million free to use media files is the Wikimedia Commons search engine. Associated with Wikipedia (which images come from the Wikimedia Commons library and both are run by Wikimedia Foundation).
Here you can see an image filtered search on “bread” shows almost 35k results and they look pretty good:
Again, pretty similar to Pexels and Pixabay above, with approx. 2,000 photos in total and a tag cloud to browse (at the bottom of homepage). A lot of the photos have vintage, bleached type effects.
Con: Photo results are paginated (not infinite scroll) which slows you down quite a bit
Looks like about 4,000 photos here. Good if you have an ecommerce site in a common product vertical because there are photo galleries organized by types of ecommerce sites. Otherwise these photos are pretty similar to what’s out there above.
- Looks like a lot of duplicate photos grabbed from other places, not much unique content and says their photos are “public domain”
This is cool – aggregates photos from other sources like Unsplash with advanced search features. For example:
people --color #60a8d8 --source unsplash
people –color #60a8d8 –source unsplash
Would return a series of photos with the keyword “people” from Unsplash with a specific hex-color of blue:
Even more options
- claims 25k images (previously www.sitebuilderreport.com/stock-up)
- https://www.bucketlistly.blog/photos via Growth Text for travel oriented, also seems like there are a few hundred travel related photos for specific destinations
- https://www.stockio.com/ approx. 30k images
Multi-site Stock Photo Search Engines
Has free and paid stock photos, claims to have a search engine for 22 stock photo websites including http://kaboompics.com, http://freepik.com, http://vectorstock.com, http://pexels.com, http://vecteezy.com, http://unsplash.com, http://magdeleine.co, http://barnimages.com, http://freelyphotos.com and more..
Shows 16k results on the keyword “bread.”
Boutique Sites (under 6k photos)
- https://www.negativespace.co/ approx. 5.4k images, well organized into top level categories
- http://librestock.com/ approx. 5.8k images
- http://skuawk.com/ approx. 200 images, boutique site, maybe 10 images per category and limited top level categories like “sports” and “technology” but they’re nice to look at
- http://startupstockphotos.com/ approx. 200 images, cool concept, but looks like one photo shoot or photos from one startup space which might be just what you need if you want all your photos for a site to look consistent
- https://www.stockified.com/ about 500 images or so, loads a bit slow (India based?), photos look a bit dated, more travel / international focus seems like
- magdeleine.co is more boutique, looks like approx 1.7k images and claims they are hand-picked. Common tags are trees, mountains, wood, landscapes and common earth tone colors
- focastock.com – also appears boutique, but unclear when photos are affiliate links to paid stock photo sites
- foodshot.co (removed due to spam issue)
- great list of stock photo sites (gotta scroll to get to them)
- www.free-images.cc (removed due to site being down)