royalty free images for blogs, sites, or social media

35 Best Sites For Royal Free Stock Photos

When choosing images (photos, icons,  or illustrations) for your website, social media post,  blog, ebook, or advertising, it is important to select images you can legally use.

Maybe you have been paying $1-5 per image, did you know there are free images to use?

This is where free photo sites are beneficial.

Copyright restrictions are no laughing matter, particularly to the owner of the copyright.

Finding an image online from a website,  social media post,  or blog does not give you the legal right to reuse the image in any way.

In fact, many bloggers have been embroiled in litigation due to using images which they were never given the right to use.

They were not compliant with copyright restrictions.

The owner of a photo must clearly, and without restriction, gives you the right to use their photography. Failure to do so places your business at risk for severe financial repercussions.

My list of the best royalty free stock photo websites can help an online business find appropriate, enticing images for their content without risking litigation or reputation.

While free photos are readily available online, it remains important that online business owners pay attention to restricted use policies.

If you are seeking a collection of high-resolution images with creative commons licenses, you’ve come to the right article.

gratisography a free stock photo sites offers free high-resolution photos

Free Stock Photos Have Creative Commons License Restrictions

Before we get to the free stock photos section, I would like to go over potential restrictions involved with creative commons licenses quickly.

If you are already versed in this area, please skip down to the resources. If you are not, I suggest you understand a few creative commons licensing concepts so you can make sure that you and your online business remain protected.

Many royalty free stock images or public domain images still require attribution, make sure to read the license on the photography website

There are two main restrictions you should pay close attention to before using a stock photo.

For example, is there a restriction in place for modifying the image?

Just resizing the image to fit your WordPress feature image article section would not violate such a restriction, however, taking the photo into photoshop for enhancement or alterations might.

Additionally, pay attention to photo restrictions which involve commercial or non-commercial use.

In Creative Commons, non-commercial implies that the image will not contribute directly to financial gains. It is best to use only stock images which allow alterations and can be used for commercial purposes. This eliminates any potential risks for confusion between the owner of the image and you, the website owner.

Copyright laws protect photography, artwork, and fonts.

Even if you buy an image from a website, read the license agreement.

Make sure you have the legal right to use the image in the manner that you plan. Licenses may limit you to online use only or only 10,000 printed copies.

Images, both free or paid, should have easily discernable licensing agreements. If you cannot find a license agreement for an image you want to use, don’t risk it.

Look for two phases to assure the photos you are downloading are free and for commercial use.

You need to see a Creative Commons Zero license. It should include the notation “without attribution.” You can find further information on licensing issues on Wikipedia.

Burst

burst

Burst is the brainchild of Shopify for royalty free images. Shopify has made its vast collection of well-curated images, which promote diversity and inclusion, available for both personal and commercial use.

Shopify makes available 100% free stock photography its own internal photography collection. The results are a stunning group of photos for download showcasing ethnic and gender diversity.

Burst is a great tool for blogging that focused on trending news or millennial content big licensing bills. Backed by Shopify means that this free image content is trusted and top-quality.

Fancy Crave

fancy crave

Fancy Crave collaborates with independent photographers. They offer curated photo packs suitable for web design, social media, and advertising or personal use as desktop images.

You can use fancy crave to create an impressive logo, or slick infographics, on a slim budget. Remember, just because you use an image as a logo and that image is a former shell of itself does not mean that licensing obligations are not still in play.

Fancy Crave helps remove the risk of using an unauthorized image in your brand’s logo, which down the line could cost you a pretty penny.

Gratisography

Ryan McGuire website

Gratisography is the work of Ryan McGuire, a talented photographer with an eye for whimsical and eclectic interpretations of everyday objects. I have used his images to improve conversions on clients websites.

If you need a “statement” photo, this should be your first stop. Subject matter includes animals, nature, people, urban and whimsical. This is an excellent option for unique, eye-popping content for ebooks, blog articles, and even social media memes.

I have to say Ryan McGuire has contributed immensely to my collection of copyright-free content.

ISO Republic

ISO Republic inside a transparent turquoise

The wide variety of photos from ISO Republic makes finding that perfect picture easy. Categories include food and drink, technology, architecture, city and urban. You can also find seasonal categories for things like the holidays.

Social media posters, website designers, and businesses of any size will find the images they need. You can sign up for their email list and get photos delivered to your inbox daily. How cool is that? Rated as one of the best places for free images.

Pexels

a background of a man's silhouette figure.
Pexels touts itself as the “best free photos for blog posts” Pexels selects photos from a variety of sources and offers them in one easy-to-navigate website. You might say that Pexels is the “Kayak” of free photos.

The search bar is at the top of the page. Just beneath the search bar, you will find two choices. One choice is for “trending” or popular searches while the other is for “new” and recently added photos.

Using the new option may allow you to get a jump on an image before it becomes saturated on social media.

New Old Stock

New Old Stock finds vintage photos now housed under the public domain and makes them available to find and use all in one place. Most photos are available for non-commercial use, and many can be used commercially.

Users link the photo back to the original provider and must read that provider’s terms of service for commercial use.

There are also curated premium packs for designers looking for something done for them. Rather than selling photos, the curator is selling a service for convenience. Pro photo packs are also available for use commercially.

Jay Mantri

Jay Mantri makes thousands of his photos available for free under the CC0 license. Photos are arranged in chronological posting order.

The site is not updated regularly, but users can find quality images around a variety of subjects. The images feature nature and outdoors extensively.

The theme involves analog styles of the film featured in digital format. Though the images are high resolution, many of the mimic the grain of analog film for a nostalgic feel.

Kaboompics

Kaboom is a one-woman stock photo site. Photographer, Karolina, provides the bulk of the images and each photo is available free for commercial use.

Several famous online publications have sourced photos from this site including HuffPost, Forbes, and Lifehacker. The images center around themes of lifestyle and interior design.

You can search for photos in a variety of ways including by category and also by complementary color palates. There’s also a lifestyle blog for endless inspiration.

Picjumbo

An image of the word picjumbo

A slew of unique and exciting photos come from the 22-year-old owner of Picjumbo. Viktor Hanacek lives in the Czech Republic, and he’s an avid photographer who has a particular and rare eye.

There are 16 categories from which website owners can download from. From transportation to architecture and from fashion to food and drinks, Hanacek’s modern, trendy undertaking enhances the visual experience of anyone’s blog content creation.

Pixabay

pixabay background of a bridge between two buildings.

Pixabay has one of the largest image libraries of free of royalties and copyright restrictions. Choose from over 1.2 million free images to download and use. Not only does Pixabay provide photos, but you can also find illustrations, vector graphics, and videos. Pixaby is the best known and most popular free stock photo website online today.

The search engine choice allows you to filter for the type of image that you need.

If you choose to browse the Editor’s Choice photos, expect the crème de la crème of Pixabay’s curation. No matter what kind of project you are working on, Pixabay is a solid choice for the image you need.

The downside, unfortunately, is that Pixabay’s extreme popularity among bloggers and social media hubs can often mean Pixabay’s photos are saturated.

Raw Pixels

raw piexels people having a meeting.

Raw Pixels offers both free photos and premium high-quality images (coming later in 2019, creative bundles will be available for purchase by download). Stay in the free section to find bright and charming commercial and personal use photos.

Raw Pixels offers a unique curated selection of public domain artwork. The images are digitally enhanced and provide a treasure trove of images suitable for vintage websites and book illustrations. Print and frame them for resale if you wish, or, use them as featured images in blog content.

SplitShire

splitshire stock images

Founded by its creator, Daniel Nanescu, SplitShire shares Nanescu’s professional photographs to the world.

He believes that 10-years of passionate photography should not go to waste on dusty hard drives. This is a massive win for any online business on a budget.

StockSnap

stocksnap, who offers royalty free pictures

No matter what reason you need free stock photography, you will find thousands of free stock photos at StockSnap. StockSnap adds versatile new images on a weekly basis. Cooking, animals, landscapes, and architecture in addition to business categories like money, office, computers, and schools await you.

StockSnap offers more categories than most free photography sites, giving the online business a more all-around experience. You will find over 150 categories – birds and bridges to deserts and trucks and everything in between.

The downside is you might end up perusing beautiful stock photos for longer than your allotted time for due to all the fresh options!

Unsplash

unsplash logo

Stunning landscapes abound on Unsplash. If you need a book cover or stunning backdrop for your home page, odds are, you will find it on Unsplash.

Contributed by top photographers whose talent is only exceeded by their generosity, new photos are added weekly.

With over 300,000 free downloadable stock photos awaiting you at Unsplash, you will have more options than you ever expected.

Life Of Pix

life of pix website

Life of Pix is a free website that offers high quality, high-resolution images for personal or commercial use at no cost. Some of their photos are stunning.

They offer a wide variety of trendy, artsy eye-popping visual experiences that can be added to your dull blog posts (well, they will not be boring anymore).

Bing Search

bing search for looking for pictures for your blog

You can use Bing’s search engine to quickly and easily download public domain photos or vector graphics by filtering to creative commons zero usage or commercial purposes.

Simply visit Bing.com and search for whatever type of image you are looking for.

In the below example, I searched for “sunsets.” Select “Images.” On the right side of your screen, click “Filter.” By clicking “filter,” you will add a new nav bar. That nav bar will have a “license” drop down.

You can see it in my example:

searching for commercial free images on bing

Foodies Feed

Foodies Feed is a stock photo trove for food bloggers or anyone needing food-themed visual content on a regular basis. 

It was started by Jakub Kapusnak as a side project, but the website blossomed into a full themed stock photo site. Users can also sign up to receive premium bundles of photos under three different tiers of monthly pricing.

The lowest tier allows for non-commercial use while the middle and premium levels allow for both commercial and personal purposes.

Negative Space

Negative Space specializes in high-resolution art photos. They are curated by hashtag and the images are free to use under the Creative Commons Zero license. Each photo is vetted to adhere to the community’s visual standards.

They also offer different kinds of tutorials for things like graphic design and mobile app design, as well as tools for web developers.

free image on pexels

Freestocks

Freestocks is a moody, artsy collection of free stock photos. Artists join the community and photos are carefully vetted for high-quality images.

You can search through significant categories, and each photo you find cannot be stocked on any other website. Although they are at no charge you will not see these images plastered all over other sites.

Of particular note are the fashion photos, which achieve a high fashion, editorial quality and feature extensive collections.

Picography

Picography has been around for about three years and provides high-resolution photos under the Creative Commons Zero license.

The photos are highly curated, but there aren’t many in each category. Users can click through to Shutterstock for more extensive collections of pictures based on the category chosen in Picography.

The new photos feature a lot of up close and alternative angle images. These are unexpected takes on everyday life, nature, and technology. There’s even a category for hospitality.

MMT

Moment, or MMT, features scenes from nature, work, and macro among other categories. It was started by Jeff Betts, a UX/UI designer looking to provide quality images to designers.

Each stock photograph is no cost and royalty-free, and designers can use all photography on the site for free under the Creative Commons Zero license. Shopify and Canva both featured MMT recently.

The look of the photographs is bright and clear. Many have eye-catching colors and exciting angles.

Skitterphoto

Skitterphoto is a public domain photo site started by two Netherlands photographers frustrated by the lack of quality photos available on the internet.

There are quality, vetted photos across a variety of categories. One useful feature is the “admin picks” category. Users can find new images in collections that might not have been seen otherwise.

The photos have bright processing. They are dramatic photos of nature, technology, people, and a great collection of start, conceptual shape-oriented pictures.

Death to Stock

Death to Stock Photo is a site that offers a free collection of stock photos available under CC0 for use, and a premium tier with more exclusive choices. Premium tiers are $12 for the first tier and $28 for the second. Both offer access to over 2000 images while the top tier provides choices for designers to sell pictures.

Free content is available in email bundles. Sign up to receive the bundles for download. Content eventually moves to the premium section, but each week new content is available for your inbox.

IM Free

IM is a website of free tools for designers. It includes not only high-quality stock photos but access to website templates. You have access to hosting, building, and creative tools.

It is powered by Google and Amazon. You can upgrade to a premium account at $350 per year to build unlimited sites. It includes blogging and e-commerce sites.

You build sites using blocks of information that are customizable. Design options are simple and easy with beautiful images.

Shot Stash

Shotstash is a startup stock photos collection. You can use photos commercially and non commercially though the site does not make allowances for other brands.

The site has an excellent search feature, and many photos are arranged around a theme. Photos are high resolution and are clear, bright tones. Although the categories are not extensive, there are a few exciting themes such as finance.

They also have a newsletter to notify you about new offerings.

Styled Stock

Styled Stock centers around lifestyle themes with many photos in white based flat-lay. These are perfect for bloggers in lifestyle, fashion, and home tips as well as coffee book style media. They are crisp and brightly colored.

You can search based on category and then further filter the photos based on a color theme. From there, choose either the newest image or the most popular to set the search. Images can be used commercially and non commercially. The collection is continually growing, and new things are available each week.

Magdeleine

If you want a website where you can find more creative photos, this is an excellent site to check out. Instead of categories like “computer” or “work,” you will see images like people, animals, food, or nature type photos.

What makes this website very interesting, not only can you search these images by category, but you can also search by the dominant color.

Each photographer has a different style that accentuates the artistic vibe in the pictures. With Loud colors and vibrant tones, all photos have its own creative story to tell its viewers.  

Raumrot

Raumrot has a good selection of high-resolution photos that you can use for commercial or personal use. All of the images on the website are categorized into sets, which makes it relatively easier to browse through the entire stock photo library.

The difference between this site and all the others is the fact that all the pictures on this website are set into packs of 20 or more images when you search, and can also be downloaded the same way.

If you are looking for a specific kind of image, which you can use for magazines, posters, online posts, etc., this site has a great selection.

Snapwire Snaps

Snapwire allows you to download fresh branded content from a community of over 500,000 visual artists and photographers.  The photos are free to download and has a wide selection starting from fitness, food, cars, people, animals, etc.

One of the best features of this website is you can request a personal photo from the community of visual artists and photographers. They can shoot custom content at scale and on brand.

If you are a photographer yourself, the site offers daily challenges, which you can join in to earn some extra cash. The images on this website, are also used by over 2000 companies all over the world, which makes it quite accessible.

Tookapic

Tookapic is the ideal stock image site to go to if you are the type to post on Instagram on a daily basis. It has a vast selection of free stock images, which you can use for your “photo of the day” post.

They have crowdsourced, authentic images that busy marketers or bloggers can use to amaze, engage, and convert their target audience into potential customers without worrying about the licenses or costs.

The website has a total of 12,000 + stock image selections, which you can download. It includes lifestyle, urban, rural, people, business, technology, transportation, etc.

The Bottom Line on Stock Royalty Free Image Use

By using copyright-free stock photo websites that do not charge a penny, you gain access to free content that can vastly improve your websites visual appeal without putting your company at risk.

Making sure that the images you use commercially are legal is vital. If in doubt, you can always take your own images as I did here.

The web is full of options making it easy, simple, and cheap to gain access to incredible commercial use images.