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If you've ever tried to design a website or start your own blog, you've probably felt the need to add images to your creation. It can be easy to see the internet as a free-for-all, but images belong to the people who created them.
Stock images provide you with a reliable source for your design needs. It also helps you to make sure you are doing everything legally.
It is sometimes even worthwhile to pay for images that are not copyrighted. For example, stock image sites may still charge you for images even though they are royalty-free.
Fortunately, there are a number of sources for completely free images, and we've collected them here. So read on for 100 sources where you can find free stock images: and don't worry — they're all legal!
These resources are some of the most popular free stock image sites on the Web and with good reason. If you're looking for some mainstream images for your website, these are the first place to try.
- Pixabay: Free photos and images that don't require attribution.
- FreeFoto: FreeFoto.com claims to be “the largest collection of free photographs on the internet.” They're available for offline projects as well, as long as you're not using them to make a profit.
- KAVEWALL: Look for images and textures in unique categories like tattoo, smoke, and food.
- Digital Dreamer: Free, royalty-free stock images can be found here.
- Free Photos Bank: This features a handful of the newest photos in their directory, so check back often.
- Free Digital Photos: Find gorgeous, easy-to-download photographs in categories like animals, celebrations, home & garden, and lots more.
- PD Photo: Browse through the categories and subcategories in this site's database, most of which depict the urban and rural landscapes of the United States.
- Cepolina: On cepolina, you can choose to save photos in up to five different formats.
- FreeImages.co.uk: A wide array of beautiful images are found on this well-organized site.
- Lensicle: Chances are you'll find whatever it is you're looking for on this terrific site.
- TurboPhoto: TurboPhoto has 10 categories keep the high res photos easy to find.
- Unsplash: A photo site that adds 10 new royalty-free photos every 10 days.
- Stockvault: Search by photo subject or by the newest and most popular photos on Stockvault.
- Dreamstime: While most of the photos on this site cost a fee, Dreamstime provides a few free stock photos.
- Superfamous: This site offers a curated collection of beautiful high-resolution images.
In addition to being a great source of images, these sites host forums, file sharing and other features designed to nurture community spirit.
- Image After: Search tons of free photos on this site while meeting other photography lovers on the forum.
- Unprofound.com: Use the images however you want, just make sure you let them know where you've published it!
- Font Play: This site has nearly 10,000 free photos for you to use any way you want. Look under the “Guests” heading to search by your favorite contributor.
- Studio 25: This attractive site lets you upload and search images.
- Picjumbo: Lots of high-resolution photos, especially of food and nutrition-related imagery.
- Abstract Influence: Search for the stock images you want while talking about photography with other visitors on the site's forum.
- amygdela's atmosphere: This site hosts a forum and a blog, as well as tons of stock images.
- Every Stock Photo: A forum and blog keep this stock image site fun and informative.
- Photocase: The good people at Photocase are “prettying up the world.” Check out their great library of stock images.
- deviantART: Provocative photos spawn great debates on the site's forum.
It's probably pretty safe to say that every stock image site on the Web needs the help of photographers to keep it running. The following sites, however, really cater to the needs of photographers, designers, and other artists even though they're donating their photos for free.
- Stock.xchng: Check out the gorgeous shots organized into lots of different categories, making your search as easy as possible.
- Morguefile: Browse thousands of beautiful photos in this site's archives, but don't miss their job board either!
- IM Free: Images and other resources organized by topic.
- The NOAA Library: Breathtaking science and nature shots are available at this site. Don't forget to check out the “Meet the Photographers” page which includes short bios and descriptions of the featured photogs.
- Free Range Stock: Photographers are rewarded for giving away their pictures by getting a percentage of the site's total ad revenue.
- AMG Media: As long as you give credit to the photographer somewhere on your site, these images are yours for the taking.
- Gratisography: Free high-resolution pictures you can use on your personal and commercial projects, with new ones added weekly.
- Picography: A gallery of shots offered by a handful of professional photographers.
- PhotoRogue.com: If you can't find a picture of anything you want, go to PhotoRogue.com and make a request for whatever it is you're thinking of. Photographers will take pictures for you — and it's still free!
- New Old Stock: A collection of vintage photos from public archives.
- GetRefe: Great source of architectural and landscape photos by photographers traveling throughout Europe.
- Image Temple: Send in your own photos to be included in this site's gallery.
- Flickr: Most of the photos on this site are not free, but a clever search will turn up some real goodies.
- FreeLargePhotos.com: Downloaders must link their chosen photo back to the site, which gives the photographer credit.
Less is Sometimes More
Just because the sites listed in this section aren't as expansive as some of the others on our list doesn't mean they're not worth checking out. Sometimes less can really means more, especially when it comes to narrowing down your search or coming across hard-to-find treasures.
- Jay Mantri: Free, inspiring photos by Southern California designer Jay Mantri, updated every Thursday.
- Mayang's Free Texture Library: Download high-res textures from this site, which has categories like architecture, buildings, plants, wood, and stone.
- Liam's Pictures from Old Books: Discover hard-to-find illustrations from old books, “most with multiple high-resolution versions.”
- Textures.com: Find interesting textures at this great site.
- Free Stock Photos: Nature shots and religious themes are abundant at this free stock photography site.
- BurningWell: Totally free images are organized into categories like animals, bugs, cityscapes, people, plants, and textures.
- Amazing Textures: This site is a web designer's dream. Browse hundreds of high res textures and backgrounds.
- Aarin Free Photo and Digital Images: These site boasts nearly 1,000 fantastic images for you to choose from.
- Image Base: On Image Base, breathtaking photographs are organized in categories like nature, concept, people, and city.
- SplitShire: Free stock photography with no attribution necessary.
- AllTheFreeStock.com: A curated list of free stock images, audio and videos.
- StockSnap.io: Hundreds of high resolution, beautiful free stock photos, with new images added weekly.
- tOfz.org: Find urban images for free, but consider making a contribution to this artist's cause.
- Shutterstock Free Images Archive: Stock photo site Shutterstock features free images weekly on their blog.
- Insect Images: Find all kinds of photos of creepy crawlers here.
Stock Images Plus
There is a lot more to legal stock images than just a bank of free photos. The sites in this section all go beyond being a basic stock photography resource by offering more services that will help improve your search for and use of stock images.
- Creative Commons: This nonprofit site shows you how to license your images once they've been uploaded onto your site.
- Free Images: This British site offers free images as well as wallpapers, desktops, and a section of ideas and tips that will help you customize your image experience, whether you're a photographer or not.
- Creating Online: This stock images site is an excellent resource for any new blogger or Web site developer. Learn about editing your images, hosting, domains, and more.
- Obsidian Dawn: Free Photoshop brushes, patterns, shapes, images, and more.
- GraphicStock.com: Sign up for a free account to access thousands of vectors, images, icons, buttons, photos, and more.
- Gimp Savvy: In addition to finding great images, Gimp Savvy also gives tips on photo touchups, making a collage, and more.
- Creativity 103: Find free abstract images and videos on Creativity 103.
- Lost & Taken: Search photos and textures, no attribution necessary.
- Subtle Patterns: A curated archive of tiling images with subtle patterns, great for website backgrounds.
- Freepik: Freepik helps you to find free vector art, illustrations, icons, PSD and photos for using in websites and more.
- Photoshop Support: On Photoshop Support, browse photos, read the tutorials, and check out the great imaging tools.
- AncestryImages.com: Search antique portraits and use the geneaology resources link to connect you to even more tools.
- Free Media Goo: Download free stock images, audio, and video on Free Media Goo.
- National Park Service Digital Image Archive: Check out beautiful pictures taken for the NPS. This site also provides a link to the NPS official site.
- New York Public Library Digital Gallery: Browse through thousands of prints, illustrations, and photos. Read the photographic services and permissions page for more information on downloading high-res files.
These image sites don't necessarily fit into one particular category, but they've still got a lot to offer for your website's needs.
- Backgrounds Archive: Find beautiful backgrounds for your desktop or MySpace page.
- USDA Agricultural Research Service: The government's Agricultural Research Service sponsors this “complimentary source of high quality digital photographs.”
- Holy Land Photos: Poignant photos of the Holy Land are available here.
- Canva: This graphic design app includes tons of free (and many reasonably priced) images and elements for creating your own images.
- Snappa: Create highly engaging images in a snap with this graphic design tool.
- Negative Space: This site provides 20 new photos every week, searchable and sortable by category, copy space and color.
- Life of Pix: Free stock photos by a Montreal advertising agency and its network of professional photographers.
- Plants of Hawaii: Perfect for any botanist, this site has over 45,000 images of Hawaiian plants.
- Death To Stock Photos: Every month a photo pack of 10 photos within a certain category will be delivered to your inbox.
- Lock & Stock: Photographer AJ Montpetit gives back to the open source community by sharing his photographs on this site.
- Trip Album: This site is all in French, but the photos are divided into categories based on country, making it easy to figure out.
- Snapwire Snaps: Get 7 free photos every 7 days from this Tumblr site.
- Public domain stock photos: Browse categories like backgrounds, food, nature, objects, and seasonal on this site.
- BAJstock: Written in both French and English, this stock image site has tons of photos for you to use for free.
- NWYK Stock Image Library: Explore 841,537 items digitized from The New York Public Library's collections.
These stock image sites offer a wide range of photo subjects, perfect for casual browsing or a way to get ideas before you plan out your site.
- Public Domain Archive: A collection of vintage and modern photos in the public domain.
- Public Domain Photos: Check out these gorgeous pictures of animals, cities, landscapes, and more.
- Bigfoto.com: Find photos of beautiful places all around the world, as well as fun shots in the Christmas, grafitti, or food categories
- Photogen: Look through the Top 10 gallery to find the most popular downloads in a preview-friendly thumbnail format.
- Free Pixels: Find free photos, logos, or other images on this site.
- DHD Multimedia Gallery: Search through thousands of basic photos.
- Tookapic: This premium site also has a category with lots of free photos.
- Photo Rack: New photos are featured at the bottom of the page, so check back often to make sure you don't miss anything great.
- Free Stock Photos: On Free Stock Photos, each image comes with a description detailing its size.
- FreeStockPhotos.biz: A collection with tens of thousands of free images available in a variety of commercial and editorial licenses.
- Cromavista: This site is all in Spanish but still easy to navigate if you're not a native speaker.
- Foter: Several different categories allow for an efficient search on IronOrchid.
- Image Blowout: Have fun looking through these unique photos.
- FreeImages.com: Tons of categories and subcategories make searching for photos on this site simple.
- RGPStock.com: There are more than 100,000 images available from this free stock photo site.
- Free Photo Station: Loads of great photos are all free on this site.