As business owners and marketers, you want to provide quality content to your customers and audience. Having the best photographs will help in this regard, as it brings out the content you share in various ways.
Firstly, having the right photos will help keep your readers engaged and to continue reading your content. Secondly, when images are unique, it will make your brand seem more professional. Finally, using stock photography gives you a cost-effective solution that can be used for your large volumes of content without worrying about copyright infringement.
Considering these three factors, it becomes even more critical than ever to use free or premium stock photography sites that meet these criteria. You’re fortunate since the stock photography trend has spiked, and with more and more people taking professional photographs and wanting to share it, you can now use this trend to improve your content.
In this post, we’ll dive into the best free and premium stock photo websites which you can use to improve your shares online. Before we get started, let’s look briefly at copyright and licenses related to stock photography.
Royalty Free Copyright and Licence Information
The most you need to know about copyright restrictions is that many photos on the stock photography sites are copyright free. This generally means that the images are licensed under creative commons public domain licenses. To save you from reading the legal jargon, it simply means you can change, use, and distribute the images for your business purposes without requesting permission.
This is generally the case but also look at the details under each image to be sure. The sites we’ve shared will indicate where attribution is needed, so be aware of this when using images. Once you keep this in mind, you’re now free to look through each of the sites. Let’s get started with the first one.
Picspree is unique in that it has a large selection of excellent stock photos that can be used royalty-free for all your projects, but it also has illustrations and vector images. Their photos are from a broad range of categories, from natural landscapes to business. Often if you choose Picspree, you can also go ahead and browse their website in 15 different languages, so it quickly helps you search for your desired pictures even in your language. Since the images are free to change, alter, and use commercially, you can use vector images or illustrations to create entirely new graphic content for your business blog, Instagram page, and even Pinterest pins.
Alternatively, you can also use their premium images area, which is backed by Getty images and managed through iStockphoto.com. These images are more versatile as well, where it will not be as commonly seen online. The prices range for image bundles as well as monthly subscriptions. For example, for a monthly subscription to access $40 for ten images. Although if you are still starting with your business, you can even get by using free stock images, and once your business grows, you can consider using a premium service.
StyledStock has an entirely different aesthetic from our first site recommended. It brings you free daily stock photographs if your website requires a gentler palette of colors. This could range from light pink to powder blue. The site is distributed into beauty, mugs, fashion, and other similar categories. Even more than that, you can search by color too. If your brand is focussed on a more delicate subject and your message needs a softer range of images, this site is quite helpful. You can use it for Instagram posts, as well as Pinterest backdrops.
These images can also be turned into excellent backdrops for facebook banners, youtube thumbnails, and even blog header graphics. This can be used to bring more cohesion to your branding. We also recommend it for website designers who need to provide a more delicate and refined website for web design. The images overlays would also work well on the landing page of a website.
StyledStock does not offer a premium service, yet its quality is excellent, so it’s unnecessary to scope out a paid service concerning the photos.
ISO Republic is noted for its wide range of photos, where the most popular categories include business, nature, and design. Their images are free to use commercially and for your projects too. The good thing about ISO republic is that they curate thousands of pictures and then index them into 30 or more categories to find exactly what you need. Even more than that, you can quickly search the image you need, and they will bring up a list of the pictures that match.
The matches are accurate, and more often than not, you will find precisely what you need. Additionally, you will find more trending categories, high-quality video, and a blog that keeps you updated on the latest stock photo trends.
Currently, ISO Republic does not have a premium service, but they also recommend other free sites to find even more pictures. For more premium options, they affiliate with Shutterstock.com that will bring you other images that you may not have seen before.
StockSnap.io releases hundreds of new photos daily, and they are of high quality and standard. Their images range from nature pictures to industrial photos. This generally means you can search for many different styles of images depending on what your business needs at that point in time. Their search functionality works well and shows you the most relevant pictures according to your search query.
Once you have found the picture you need, you can download it, and while they do give you an indication of the author of the photograph for attribution, it’s not necessary to do so. You’re protected by creative commons public domain, which allows you to use the images for creative and commercial purposes in your business. Some of the most popular categories include wallpapers, beach, and design.
As of writing, they don’t have a premium service, but if you do need more images, then they have a link that refers you to the Shutterstock premium service for photos.
Pexels has become more popular, as their image quality has improved. They provide a wide range of unique images free of charge. Additionally, the images are copyright free, where you can use them for your commercial projects and other business needs. One of the standout aspects of Pexels is their discover tab, which allows you to look at the freshest images that were uploaded. They also show you similar photos in a color palette if you’re looking for a particular look and feel for your business or project.
The site is filled with eye-catching and vibrant images from talented photographers. While you may find a few people using the photos, they allow you to update the pictures using software like Canva or Adobe spark to add your unique take on the image for your business. The most significant benefit from the photos on Pexels is that they will make your website or social media stand out from others when you process them.
Their popular collections include blur, eyes, I love you, animation, and leaves, to name a few.
Unsplash is the go-to site for creators online. Not only is it richly powered by creators, but it’s also used extensively on social media platforms for Instagram posts, Facebook content, and blog content. Here you will find a good selection of the best free high-resolution photos. The site has a team that curates the images for you and provides collections of similar images according to color tone or subject matter.
You can also look at the latest trends and the images related to those trends on Unsplash. Since there are new submissions regularly, the site is updated daily, always showing you the best photos on the homepage. Also, you can use these photos without worrying about copyright infringement.
They do stipulate in the Unsplash license that the photos are free for personal and commercial use. More than that, if you wish to sell the images, they should be suitably edited and changed. That generally means you cannot sell the photo in its original form. Finally, attribution is not necessary but appreciated.
One other benefit of Unsplash is that they have an app that you can download from the Google play store or App store. If you need images on the go, you can head over to the application instead of the website.
Jay Mantri has given the site his name and shares seven new photos every Thursday, he has allowed this under Creative Commons license. The images’ quality is good and more geared towards skateboarding, street pictures, and architectural design.
He will post the photos on his Instagram as well, which you can take a look at here to understand the aesthetic. The download process is slightly different from other sites, where you are taken to an additional link where you can then right click and save the image to your desktop.
The best part about Jay Mantri is that the images are unique and not commonly used. It’s perfect for brands with a more grungy feel, and the photos have this tone generally.
New Old Stock takes you back to a time long ago, where the photos have a vintage look and feel about them. If your business needs photos to set an aged look, or your theme is aligned with this, then New Old Stock has many options to choose from. The images range from farming, construction work, and people going about their lives in a black and white setting. Many of the photos have been collected and dated back to the ’30s, ’40s, and even ’50s.
The photos are free of charge and also copyright-free, but there is also a premium version where you can buy a collection of vintage images with prices ranging from $10 to $35. The photos can be purchased and kept permanently.
Little Visuals started as a passion project by Nic Jackson. Unfortunately, Nic passed away in 2013. His family has allowed the images, and they will continue to remain free for commercial use. At present, 3.4 million people have viewed the site.
The photos are of high quality and offer a somber look and feel generally. If you have a more serious theme in your business, this site is perfect for you. Another useful aspect of this site is that it’s relatively easy to load and download the photos since it does not have that many images. The site is easy to navigate as it’s made only of one page with all of the photos and a clear disclaimer of how you may use the images.
And you don’t need to worry too much about cookies or any of your information being collected.
Burst was created for entrepreneurs by Shopify, which is its target demographic. Often as a Shopify user, you will need to create a store website, and high-quality photos are necessary to show customers that you are a professional business. Generally, most images are licensed under Creative Commons, while in other instances, Shopify will let you know where they own the license on an image.
Overall, the photos are high quality and have helped hundreds if not thousands of entrepreneurs run their stores well by improving their marketing using better images. What will you find on this site? As it’s more for eCommerce, the photos are geared towards niche topics like coffee, jewelry, or beauty. But that’s not the only category. You can also find clothing images or lifestyle images that will best represent your brand.
You can still find a few general photos, too; as Burst has expanded, they have also added nature and travel pictures to cater to more people.
Reshot has unique images that are both handpicked and reviewed to bring you the best experience. Their website shows that they have tons of royalty-free photographs and “non-stocky” photos.
Generally, it would be perfect for startups, content creators, and marketers looking for something different. Their photo range is broad, with many everyday situations represented, making them both engaging and relatable.
If you don’t find any photos that you need on the homepage, the search bar gives you more options. Their most popular categories included business, family, travel, and pets. The photos are free to use and available under the creative commons license.
Pixabay is known for nurturing their community of creators and offering up to 1.8 million photos. Their most popular categories include nature, school, and business. All images on the site show you how many people liked it, commented, and or chose it as a favorite. You can use these indications to tell you how many used the images.
We recommend looking for new photos with less engagement so that you can use it without seeing it on other brand pages. Additionally, you may also consider looking at older stock photos on the site, which may not have seen much traffic. If you need vector and illustrations, there are many to choose from.
Pixabay is free for all images, and also all images are royalty-free. This means you’re free to use the photos under the creative commons license.
If your business is in the food and beverage industry, this might be right up your alley. This site has taken stock photography one step further and branched out into niche-specific content. You’ll find categories like coffee, baked goods, healthy food, and other beautiful food creations.
FoodiesFeed is perfect if you’re a food blogger or a marketer, freelancer specializing in this content type. What are the photos like?
They are eye-catching and will make a statement on your website, blog, or social media. All photos are licensed under creative commons. This means you can download them free of charge and use them as you wish.
LEEROY Creative Agency designed and created this website using their network of photographers. Every week they select one photographer to showcase and bring their collection of work. All images have a high resolution, and there are no copyright restrictions.
This site is perfect if you are running a campaign and need similar styled photos. You can turn to a particular photographer and creatively use their images in your design.
You will love this site if you need unique, attractive images with good model pictures and landscapes. The photos are impactful and even dramatic, so this site can be a useful resource if this is what you need.
Another feature of this site is that you can also create an account, log in, and store your photo collections. This is helpful when you see a photo and want to return to it at a later stage.
Since all photos on Skitterphoto are in the public domain and created by the individuals who run the site, you have the freedom to use the images for any purpose. You could choose to download, edit, and even recreate the pictures to sell commercially.
The site is pretty easy to navigate, offering you search functionality and categories to choose from. You can browse using featured images as well, curated and served to you under one tab, usually the homepage.
The categories include travel, industrial, and more. The site does well where each image shows you the views, comments, and likes to indicate its popularity. Also, the site is quite fast, considering the large volumes of images available.
We recommend using this site if you need something a little more natural or rustic focussed.
Kaboom Pics has just under 18000 pictures. This site’s unique aspect is that it is perfect if your brand is trying to get a consistent look and feel for your website and social media. They offer a variety of color palettes and images that match that color palette. This means less work for you trying to figure out which colors blend in the best with your brand. Once you choose a color palette, you can search the site for similar colors and use the corresponding images.
The photos are high quality and free, where many themes such as abstract art, fashion, food, and architecture are the most popular. Keep in mind the images can be used for commercial and personal use but cannot be sold.
PicJumbo is a popular free stock photo website. They have a wide range of photos where many of the images are set in a grid. What works well is when you like a picture, you can choose to see other similar images and then use them. For example, if you have an exact topic in mind, then you can search for a picture and also pursue other similar items in the category. It saves you so much time having to find the perfect keyword for your photo.
Images are added daily, and their most popular categories include business, abstract, and background. The homepage also makes it most comfortable to see which images are the most downloaded or popular. You can then choose if you would like to use those or not. The photos are free to use commercially and personally as well.
FOCA was first developed by Jeffrey Betts in 2014 and gave you a highly curated range of photographs for personal and other uses. You may choose to use the images on projects, websites, and apps. Since the site was launched to show Jeff’s passion for photogra[hy and the world, you will awe-inspiring views and some of his favorite photos taken over the years.
The main aim is to give back to the community. Popular categories include nature, cityscapes, and workspaces. You may have seen some of FOCAs images on Shopify and Canva as well.
We’ve found that their images are original and not often found in other places online, so if you need unique photos for your content, check out FOCA.
Gratisography offers you many whimsical and cute photographs that you will not see anywhere else. Not only are they unique but also in high resolution, which makes it easy to use in your personal and commercial projects.
There aren’t any copyright restrictions, and you can find new images every week. Where do the photographs come from? Most of the photos were initially taken by the owner Ryan McGuire, and they have recently also started to curate attractive, whimsical looking images. If what you’re going for needs a storytelling image, then Gratisography is the perfect stock photo site.
Free Stock has many categories of high-quality photographs. You can find photos related to animals, people, design, architecture, and fashion. With 57 pages of high-resolution images, you will be spoiled for choice as well.
You can search by category or use the search bar at the top of the page. Alternatively, you can go page by page if you are not entirely sure what you need.
The images are also released under Creative Commons, and you can feel free to download, edit, and update as you see fit.
Picography has photos in 22 categories, including abstract, technology, and wildlife. You can also find 55 pages worth of curated images that are free to use commercially and personally. The site’s organization is excellent, where each picture has its title on the bottom left corner.
This gives you an idea about the theme of the image. It’s easy to download something you enjoy, and when you do, you are also offered similar photos that could add more vibrance to your website or business project.
They have been providing high-quality images for the last three years to millions of people, and it’s rated as one of the top websites for beautiful photos. Finally, you do not need to attribute any of the images
Final Thoughts on Top Stock Image Sites
It’s clear that stock photography sites are increasing, making it easier to bring a new graphic element to your website or social media content. As a designer, business owner, or marketer, you can rest easy knowing that your content will stand out from the crowd and look more professional. You may need to search these sites to find the best-suited images, but now it’s easier since you have a list at your disposal.
We also love these sites because nearly all images on the free stock sites have a Creative Commons Zero license. What does this mean for you? You can pretty much use, change, and distribute them even for commercial projects. What’s even better is that you don’t need the author’s consent. Some sites like Unsplash.com and Pexels do, however, give you the option of crediting the owner if you wish.
We recommend using a combination of sites for the best results, and taking time to review the premium options, giving you even more images that are not often seen online. The next step is to choose 3-4 of the sites, look around, and determine which photos will serve the content you want to create. As a business owner, you will have a good idea of the theme you are going for, and many of the sites are curated thematically to make things easier. Even more than that, it’s always a good idea to track your improvement of shares on social media and increased website visitors based on the change to stock photography.
Did you enjoy this post on 21 Free and Premium Stock Photo Sites in 2020? Be sure to check out each of providers above and see which has the best images and stock photos for your site.