15 Amazingly Free Stock Photo Websites

If you’ve ever tried searching for free stock photos on the internet, you probably know what a ridiculous hassle it can be.

Free stock photos are – as a general rule – extremely difficult to find. A huge portion of the stock photo market is owned by professional companies like Shutterstock and 123RF, who charge $20 or more for a single photo. Even when you can find free stock photos, most are low-resolution, watermarked, blurry, and – at best – uninspired.

But believe it or not, there are ways to access legitimately high-quality stock photos without all of the hassle. You just have to know where to look!

Here’s a lovingly selected list of the world’s best free stock photo websites for designers, business owners, and just about everyone else:



Unsplash adds ten new royalty-free photos every ten days, and they’re almost always breathtakingly attractive beautiful landscapes. Just scroll down the homepage to see foggy rivers, faraway mountain ranges, battered signs, and more… in all their high-resolution glory.

Searchable? No.
Attribution required? Yes.




Dutch artist Folkert Gorter and his graphic design peers curate this collection of incredibly high-resolution images, perfect for use in web design, or as desktop backgrounds.

Searchable? No.
Attribution required? Yes.




Picjumbo is a personal favorite of mine due to its impressively easy navigation and extremely high-resolution photos (with no required attribution). This site also happens to sport a great collection of food shots, so if you’re running a restaurant or nutrition-themed startup, it might be worth taking a browse.

Searchable? Yes.
Attribution required? No (for almost all images).




Pixabay is a web designer’s dream. Not only does it offer an easy-to-use search feature, the images here are absolutely brilliant (and nearly all of them don’t require any attribution at all).

Searchable? Yes.
Attribution required? No (for almost all images).


IM Free


Photo by John Hope

IM Creator (an online website building tool) put together this small library of premium-quality free photos for use in your designs. Attribution is required, but it’s well worth it: these pictures are of the same (if not better) quality as paid-sites.

Searchable? Yes.
Attribution required? Yes.




Gratisography is, in a word: incredible. Built by the talented Ryan McGuire (an artist/web designer), this collection features some of the most evocative images on the web, and requires no attribution whatsoever.

Searchable? No.
Attribution required? No.




One of the simplest sites on this list, MorgueFile has a streamlined layout and carefully curated list of photos. Their selection isn’t as wide as some of the other sites on this list, but the photos they do include are incredibly helpful, and surprisingly wide-ranging (you can find everything from wildlife photos to antiques).

Searchable? No.
Attribution required? No.




One of the most exhaustive directories of open-source images, FreeImages is one of our go-to websites when working on new projects. While most stock photo sites focus on a small niche (usually landscape photography), FreeImages offers thousands of pictures from a diverse selection of categories.  Most importantly, it’s searchable, which is an incredible time-saver when you’re working on a specific project.

Searchable? No.
Attribution required? Sometimes (check each photo for details)


Little Visuals

little vis

LittleVisuals is unique: they offer a more small-scale, handpicked approach than most stock photo sites. Sign up for their email list, and you’ll receive seven high-resolution pictures via .zip file every week.

Searchable? No.
Attribution required? No.


New Old Stock


New Old Stock is a collection of antique photos taken by government agencies or discovered in estate sales. You can scroll for hours without getting bored.

Searchable? No.
Attribution required? No.




The simplest site on this list, Picography is a scroll-through gallery of random shots offered by a handful of professional photographers. You can’t search it, but this site is perfect for designers looking for generally evocative photos (of which there are dozens).

Searchable? No.
Attribution required? No.



Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

If you need architectural or landscape photos, fast – GetRefe is perfect for you. No frills, no categories, just beautiful, natural images taken by a series of photographers traveling throughout Europe.

Searchable? No.
Attribution required? No.


Jay Mantri


One of SoCal’s finest designers, Jay Mantri offers this collection of free, inspiring photos (updated each Thursday).

Searchable? No.
Attribution required? No.


Public Domain Archive


Eclectic vintage pictures join uber-modern scenes in this convenient online collection, which tend toward striking symmetry and muted colors.

Searchable? No.
Attribution required? No.


What’s all this attribution business mean, anyway?

Contrary to popular belief, when you do a Google Images search, the results are actually not free for your immediate use. In most cases, they’re still under copyrights from their photographers.

If you’re looking for photos and want to keep yourself out of copyright trouble, you’ll need to find websites that explicitly define their copyright license. For all of the sites above – that license is generally pretty easy to find (there’s generally a description of the license on every page, or at least a link to a description).

Here are the two descriptions you’ll see the most:

1. Creative Commons Zero – this means that you can use the photos on the page in any way you’d like, without asking permission.

2. Creative Commons with Attribution – which means that you can use the photo in any way you want, as long as you attribute the creator of the photo.

Attribution is awfully simple: if you’re on a web page that used one of the photos in question, add a short sentence that cites the photographer (e.g. “Photo by John Smith”) and make sure to include a link back to their site, if they have one.

Of course – make sure to check each website’s license page for specific details pertaining to each page.

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Casey Ark

Casey Ark is the CEO of Plato Web Design, a custom web design and marketing agency. His writing has been featured in The Washington Post, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Newsday, The Tampa Bay Times, and The Cleveland Plain Dealer.

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2 thoughts on “15 Amazingly Free Stock Photo Websites

  1. Hey Casey,

    Nice list, I didn’t know about New Old Stock stock so far – thanks. Did you hear about OpenFotos.com by the way they require no attribution also…


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