Today I am thankful for talented photographers who allow creatives and other business owners to use their work freely online.
For without them, we would be trapped in a world where everything looked like Shutterstock.
In the world of high-res cell phone cameras and Instagram filters, it is easy for the casual user to take decent photos, but it still takes a lot of practice to take photos that you are proud to show off (especially on client projects).
And of course, under copyright law, you have to be careful what you use from someone else. So you can’t just do a Google Image Search and have done with it.
(Although you can search Google Images with a Creative Commons search that can be used with care, to find images that are filtered for an open creative commons license.)
Anyway, in the course of my miscellaneous writing and website and social media projects, I’ve begun the course of compiling an archive of useful stock photo sources.
I visit at least three of these sites nearly every day. Some of them send a weekly or monthly newsletter with photographic goodies.
Hunting for images can be time-consuming, so it’s worth getting to know these different sites and what kind of images they offer. I’d even recommend going through and saving your favorite images (with attribution notes if they are required) in a special file of your own.
The list is broken down based on what you can expect from the site. Some are searchable; some are newsletter-driven; some you’ll just have to explore. Be sure to keep an eye out for different copyright requirements on each site; some vary photo to photo based on the preferences of the contributor.
Searchable Stock Image Sites
Arguably, the image site that makes your life easiest is the one that takes the time to appropriately label and keyword their content, and make it searchable within the context of the site. This section pays tribute to them.
- Free Stocks
- Negative Space
- Realistic Shots
- Kaboom Pics
- Good Stock Photos
- Free Nature Stock
- Nomad Pictures
- Barn Images
- Freely Photos
You’ll Want to Browse These Photo Sites
Of course, part of the fun of finding photos is in browsing and exploring to find the perfect visual for your message. You can get lost in discovering the images on all of these websites.
For those working on behalf of businesses, the top two or three sources may be particularly helpful.
- Startup Stock Photos
- Hubspot Blog
- Foodies Feed
- Jay Mantri
- Travel Coffee Book
- SuperFamous (attribution required)
- Looking Glass Photos
- Lock & Stock Photos
- Life of Pix
- Stock Vault
- My Stock Photos
- Bara Art
- Boss Fight – Free High-Res Stock Photos, Daily.
Fill Your Inbox with Photos from These Newsletters
Sometimes it’s even better when new photos come right to you. Fortunately, these three services all offer newsletters, delivering fresh photo content on a weekly or monthly basis.
Note that recent collections on Little Visuals can be browsed, but the other two cannot without a premium membership.
- Death to the Stock Photo
- Little Visuals (newsletter optional)
- UsersThink (downloadable collection)
- Avopix (newsletter optional)
When You Need Something A Little Different
When you are working for a historical organization or an organization with unique needs, sometimes the usual image websites just won’t do the trick. These websites will help you find historical images, vector icons, and more.
- Unrestricted Stock – For unique vector images.
- New Old Stock – Need something good for #ThrowbackThursday? These old photos should do the trick…
- From Old Books – If the other site doesn’t work out, this one probably will.
- The Pattern Library – Patterns and backgrounds for many different needs.
- Audubon’s Birds of America and Field Guide – For the bird-lovers out there.
- The British Library’s Flickr – one million historical images just released into the public domain!
- Minimography – Minimalist photos
Kinda-Free Photo Sites
OK, these ones may not technically belong on here. But the prices are a much better deal than most other stock image websites, and sometimes you just need something different.
- Free Digital Photos – True to its name, some of the images on this site are actually free. But it’s a little deceptive: Free images are size restricted to about 400 pixels; larger images cost a small fee.
- Dollar Photo Club – $1 per image, every time.
- Adobe Stock Photos – Your first month of images is free.
Diverse Stock Photos for Content Makers
- CreateHER Stock – A carefully curated visual content destination for female bloggers, creatives and online influencers of color.
- Colorstock – Simply priced from $10 to $50 per image, these royalty-free images are just for brands, multicultural marketers and content creators.
- Pickle Jar – Photos of everyday India
Do you know a good free stock image website?
Leave it in the comments below!