10 free stock image websites to keep the creativity flowing

At LEP, we often joke that the hardest part about writing a blog or putting a website live is finding the right images. It’s a real conundrum. The images you choose need to support your words by conveying the appropriate meaning and emotion. They can make or break your content efforts really fast. And now that we’re all living that #isolife, taking our own photographs or paying for a photographer is out of the question. So, do you buy images from one of the well-known stock shops, or hunt around finding quality free-to-use images? And when you find the right image, how do you ensure that you’re not breaking any copyright rules?

At LEP Digital we’re big supporters of artists so, where we can, we try to search for talented individuals over larger commercial sites. In our time as a business, we’ve tried and tested a range of different websites to find the perfect free stock image or video that is available for public use. We’ve compiled a list of our top 10 favourite free stock image websites for you to use. If you agree, don’t forget to make a small donation when you download your images to help keep these websites and their artists in business.

1. Free Photos CC

FreePhotos.cc is a free stock image website where you can find creative commons photos for your website or print projects. Search from 100 popular categories or use the search function to look up images by topic (e.g. “Dogs”, “Flowers”, etc.), browse results, and download. How does it work? FreePhotos.cc uses the APIs from a few stock photo providers – including Pexels.com – and gathers images in one place for easy preview and download. We recommend that you attribute the photographer as a token of respect for the work.

2. Pixabay

Pixabay is an excellent resource for free-to-use photos, illustrations, vector graphics, and videos. Yep – videos! Why not transform your static web banner to a moving story? All images and videos on Pixabay are released free of copyright under Creative Commons (CC0). You may download, modify, distribute, and use them royalty free for anything you like, even in commercial applications. And, you don’t need to attribute the source.

3. Free Refe Real Life Photos

On this Tumblr website, images taken on mobile devices are king. These images scream Pinterest and Instagram because they capture the beauty of every day in a stylised and aesthetically pleasing way. This website is great if you’re looking for objects, landscapes, or food shots. We recommend using these images for your digital projects only, as they may be too small for printing.

4. Gratisography

Gratisography offers high-resolution, quirky images you can use on your personal and commercial projects. While the image library is limited – you may search in categories for animals, nature, objects, people, urban and whimsical – the images are interesting and quirky and the risk of seeing your image on other people’s websites is low. All pictures are photographed by Ryan McGuire and free of copyright restrictions. Images are free, but you’re encouraged to donate to “Ryan McGuire’s coffee fund” – the global currency!

5. Jay Mantri

“Free pics. Do anything. Make magic.” Jay Mantri is a designer that encourages you to use his videos and photos to make magic. Mantri posts new photos to his site each week that are free to use in any way you like, without attribution. His images have an artistic, urban feel and have a wide application thanks to their varied subject matter.

6. I’m Free

I’m Free is a relatively new website devoted to more than just stock images. Use it to find downloadable templates, mockups, icons, vectors, textures, and graphics. For the OCD creatives among us, you’ll be pleased to find that the stock images are organised and grouped by categories. If you’re writing for food, sports & fitness, health, technology, or travel–this is the stock website for you.

7. Pikwizard

Pikwizard offers a huge library of high quality, royalty-free stock images, with no attributions required. The site allows you to search via popular category, tags, or related content. Uniquely, Pikwizard offers free image editing through their sister site, Design Wizard, allowing users to crop, resize or add text and shapes to their photos – simply subscribe to download. This is the perfect one-stop stock website for those that are less Photoshop-savvy, and like to edit and personalise their photos before downloading. 

8. Unsplash

Unsplash is a collaborative stock photography site with over one million free high-resolution images brought to you by a generous community of photographers. All images on the site are free to use and share as needed – simply choose your image size and download. Unsplash also allows you to attribute images to the photographers and contributors, if you wish, to allow them to gain exposure. With images for every category and theme under the sun, you’re sure to find an image to suit your blog or website here. 

9. Pexels

If you’ve been publishing blogs for the last few years, you’ve no doubt used Pexels. Alongside Unsplash, it’s our go-to free stock image website, offering high-quality photos of any subject. What we love most about it, besides the variety, is that you can download the exact size you need. Choose from original, large, medium, small, or enter your own custom size. This is great for image optimisation – when size does matter. We also love that you can browse by popular photos and searches, photographer leaderboard, keywords, or even colours.

10. Freepik

Freepik is probably the most versatile free stock image website of the list because of its variety of content and file formats. It offers high-quality illustrations and graphics – including icons, vectors, and PSD files – that have been carefully selected by its design team. Freepik uses a “freemium” business model which means that the majority of the content can be used for free as long as you credit the author of illustration using Freepik’s code. If you don’t want to include credit, you may subscribe to the Premium plan for a small fee.

What do you think?

While these are the LEP team’s favourites, you may know of others that tick all the boxes. Please leave us a comment below so that we can share our resources and stay creative during these uncertain times. 

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