If you are searching for stock photos that don’t suck, you are not alone.
As you progress in your projects, you know that finding beautiful photos is a great way to complement or enhance it.
But, finding free photos that do not require any license can be a pretty difficult task, and even if you unwittingly commit copyright infringement, you may still have a face a lawsuit against you. What you can do is to search for Creative Commons Zero images.
The good news is that there are literally hundreds or even thousands of websites on the internet that provides free stock images. However, the problem is that a lot of them seem to be rehashed content or worse, low-quality images that do not help your cause at all.
Trust me, you don’t want to be spending hours searching for the perfect photo. You would want websites that are dependable and consistently update its library or collections. Also, you don’t want to use photos that are super popular that you can easily find them on dozens of websites just like yours.
I have created a few websites and also been involved in projects that often require stock photos, but it seems quite difficult to nail down a place to get good quality stock photos.
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Hence, I began researching and digging deep into Google to find the best stock photo sites out there and compiled this list to share with you. I have personally used all of them and can attest to the high quality each produces.
Sick of finding crappy stock photos? Then read on to find alternatives for you.
At the top of my list is Unsplash.
According to their website, they currently have over 1 million stock images available for anyone to use. You can do whatever you want with the photos, and you don’t even need to attribute the photographer.
Of course, if you appreciate their good work, you should definitely quote the source of your images, as they help the original photographer get exposure and get recognized for their efforts.
In terms of quality, the photos on Unsplash are outstanding. On top of that, they offer one of the widest range of photos available anywhere.
The images are contributed by over 100,000 photographers, and each photo is vetted before it can be published on the platform.
It is very easy to find what you are searching for, and should definitely be one of your go-to websites.
Yet another high-quality stock image website, Pixabay has a huge variety of pictures that are free of restrictions and are contributed by professionals globally.
While they do not have as strict quality control as Unsplash, the quality remains top-notch, and not only can you find photos, you can also download graphics, vectors and even drawings.
I like that it does not require any registration, which means that you can easily access the site and start picking up images for your projects.
Having been in the market for about a decade, you can count on them to find a huge variety of photos across many categories.
The interface is easy to use, with a large search bar in the center of the page, or you can simply choose from photos, videos, illustrations, and vectors. You can even search by colors, sizes, and orientation.
To round off the top 3, take a look at Pexels.
You will find some similarity as the above mentioned 2 websites, and indeed Pexels offers the same high-quality stock images.
I like that you can quickly find photos that are trending, as well as suggested topics to complement your search.
After you find what you need, you can even choose from different sizes that work best for you. This takes away the hassle of resizing a large photo.
If you are a regular user, you will soon realize that the photos on the platform are constantly updated, seemingly on a daily basis.
That’s good news for people who are always involved in projects where they need fresh images frequently.
To top it off, you can even find free stock videos! With the rise of rich media, Pexels is really a boon for people like you.
#4 Pic Jumbo
While not as large a site as the 3 above, PicJumbo offers a great selection of stock images that are completely free to use.
In fact, many popular publications have mentioned them as their top choice when searching for stock images.
All their pictures come in high resolution, totally free from watermarks and cover a wide range of topics.
My only small gripe is that the search bar is quite small and located at the top corner of the page, which makes searching slightly troublesome.
That said, if you are looking for inspiration, Pic Jumbo did a great job of displaying lots of attractive pictures across the home page, and you can click on them to get more that are similar.
All in all a very good option. You can buy them a coffee to reward their good work.
StockSnap works in a slightly different way than the others as they consolidate images from all across the web for their users.
With the data that they have gathered, they are able to show pictures that are popular and in demand.
I think that works very well for casual browsers, but if you are searching for something in particular, they do have a pretty neat collection.
Whether you are a designer or just finding casual photos to upload to your site, StockSnap is a solid website to do so.
One feature they are lacking though is the ability to choose the size of the image, which can be very useful if you know the dimensions you need.
While they do not have as vast a collection as the others here, Gratisography has carved out a niche for themselves in this crowded space.
If you are looking for very high quality and unique photos, this is where you should start your hunt.
In fact, they even named themselves “the world’s quirkiest collection of free high-resolution photos”, so you know right off the bat what to expect.
The user interface is simple to use and through the menu, you can easily filter out the category you are looking for.
The collection might be small, but you can be certain the pictures will grab the attention of your readers.
A very basic website offering a nice collection of photos related to the workspace, StartupStockPhotos can be your go-to when you need such material.
Their focus is very clear: anything related to startups, offices and work environments can be found here.
What I didn’t like though is the inability to search. You need to scroll the pages to find something suitable, which takes up a lot of time.
#8 New Old Stock
A specialist in vintage photos, I really like New Old Stock as they have some of the best looking classic photos.
On top of the free collection, they do offer pro packages where the owner includes editing and curation, something that is lacking in the stock images space.
If you want to pick up individual pictures (paid), they can be found on the site too.
The design of the site is minimalistic, and you might miss out on the small search button at the top left of the page.
Other than that, this is an excellent source of retro goodies.
Sometimes you might be looking for vectors rather than images, and Vecteezy is a good place to start.
Once you begin your search, you can easily filter out the illustrations you need from the menu.
There are lots of choices available, so whether you want something that is free or maybe you are willing to pay a small fee for something unique, the option is there.
They have a couple of related sites where you can download stock videos or even brushes for Adobe Photoshop!
I can say that this is the first site I turn to when I need vector illustrations, hands down.
Despite its morbid sounding name, Morguefile is worth checking out if you are in need of strange photos.
That’s right, true to their name, they offer some of the weirdest stock photos you can find on the Internet.
As you can imagine, the size of their collection is pretty small, since these photos are not exactly everyday necessities.
If you are an aspiring photographer, there is a section where you can sign up for a quest and submit your work.
Photos are not the only type of media on offer here though, as you can get access to high quality stock videos and vectors too.
Take note though, these extras are paid versions.
As a new kid on the block, PikWizard is quickly becoming a favourite of mine due to its fast growing collection and high quality images.
The photos span across a number of categories such as animals, abstracts, sports and architecture, but what impresses me most is the huge variety of photos of people.
Seriously, I think they probably have one of the most, if not the most, pictures of humans!
You can also make use of their sister site, Design Wizard, to create your own unique designs too.
Not only that, they have grown their portfolio to include stock videos too. I love using their slo-mo videos, something that is not very commonly found anywhere else.
FoodiesFeed is another one of those players that have made a name for themselves by focusing on a specialty segment.
If you searching for any photos related to food, this should be your number one option.
At the moment, I can see that they have over 1500 photos, and this number is growing, especially when they are constantly inviting new photographers to share their work in return for exposure.
Refe is not exactly what you would expect from a stock photography website, as they are actually a collection of real life free photos presented on a Tumblr blog.
The photos look amazing though, as they are constantly being updated and added on to.
However, you won’t be able to search for what you need, so you might want to consider this avenue as a back up plan or just casual surfing.
If you have your eye on something, make sure to download first and store it for future use.
You never know when it will come in handy!
I didn’t want to end off at the number 13, which led me to discover LibreShot.
Helmed by Martin Vorel, this is essentially a collection of free photos by the owner.
He does have a good reputation and has even been featured in several big publications.
On this site, he has a wide range of photos that you can download for free without attribution.
While he does not have as big a collection as the big boys, his photos are of very high quality and can fit into any website or project.
So there you have it, 14 sites where the stock photos don’t suck!
I hope that this will be useful in your upcoming projects and can break the boring and monotonous images that typify free stuff.
If you are considering expanding your options to a paid network, I recommend checking out StockUnlimited. It’s going for $49 for a lifetime deal. Be quick as it will not last forever!
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