Stock photography sucks. We all know it. In fact, some of the best internet satire exists purely to poke fun out of awful stock photography.
Times have changed though, and as creators and online businesses we no longer have to put up with the awful collections or cringe worthy stock.
There are now hundreds of websites that exist purely to share high quality stock images that are free to use in personal and commercial projects. These are a collection of my favourites.
Every site on this list provides stock photos that sit within the CC0 licence, so you can use them for commercial use without payment or credit. Though donation links will be supplied below their respective listings if they have one.
In my opinion, this is the best of the best. It’s where I source most of my images for use on the web. Pexels has a fantastic curation system, with photos being accurately tagged and easy to find. Best of all though, is simply their stylish collection of photography. Everything is high quality, having an extremely professional feel without the cheesyness which often comes with stock photos.
You can also easily donate to the photographers after each download.
Another winner if you’re looking for free stock photos. Whilst Unsplash doesn’t have a similar level of curation as Pexels (they still do have search functionality), you’re likely to strike gold simply by scrolling down their homepage. It will be full of gorgeous visuals that will almost convince your readers or customers you have a team of paid photographers working for your brand!
This one is a little bit of a curveball. Little Visuals used to be a fully maintained royalty free stock photo repository, but unfortunately the owner and maintainer passed away.
Whilst the site is no longer maintained, Little Visuals houses some truly gorgeous shots, and you can donate to a charity of Nic’s families’ choosing. The photos available on Little Visuals will hopefully stay there for a long time to continue displaying Nic’s great work.
As a bonus, a lot of these shots are super high resolution.
We move from quality to quantity. You can find some gorgeous photos on Pixabay, so that might be a little harsh. Pixabay’s main selling point though, is it’s sheer library size. Their homepage boasts over 740,000 free stock photos. Some will be gold, some might not be so great. One thing is for certain, with over 700,000 photos in one place, you’re bound to find one that fits!
Gratisography is a bit of an odd collection. All of the shots are of very high quality, but some are a little… out there! The downloads are often over 8MB in size, meaning if you’re using these images for print, they’re a great stock photo source to choose.
If you like Gratisography, there’s a direct PayPal donate link on their homepage.
New Old Stock is a royalty free stock photos site that specialises in supplying old vintage photos and bringing them to life for the digital world. Obviously you compromise photo resolution and size when you are download photos taken from years ago. You can find some gorgeous photos though, especially if you happen to be looking for a photo with a retro feel.
Another gem if you’re looking for a large collection of varied free stock photos. There’s a serious amount of resource available for free. This one, like a few of the others, is funded by advertising suggesting premium photos for you to download in addition to the free ones. However there’s a serious amount of free ones of great quality.
DTSP is a monthly subscription that will send you a collection of top notch stock (what a rhyme!) every month for free. The only catch is that you can’t access their archives unless you sign up to their premium subscription. However every first of the month you’ll receive a pack of gorgeous themed free CCO stock photos. Excellent for building your collection!