12 Fresh and Unexpected Places for Free Stock Photos


You’ve carefully crafted the content for your website, now it’s time to find the perfect images to represent your brand online. Where to start? Most websites incorporate a mixture of brand-owned images along with stock photos.

Of course, hiring a photographer to capture your own exclusive images is the most authentic, but it is also the most expensive. There are a number of stock photo sites that sell licenses to use the images offered through their service. But luckily, there are also a lot of amazing, beautifully curated photo sites that share high quality images that can be used commercially for FREE.  

It is always important to respect ownership of images that you use in your print and digital media. More than an issue of conscience, it’s the law. Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that has created standardized licensing for works to support the distribution of works otherwise copyrighted. It has made it much easier to both access and protect creative property.

The CC0 1.0 Universal license attributed to public domain images.  They have been gifted by the photographer with (practically) no strings attached. Most images shared through free stack images sites are designated as CC.0.

We have shared a list of our top 10 favourite go-to FREE photo websites below. And remember, if a “picture is worth a thousand words”, imagine what you can communicate about your brand through the right images!

1)     Pexels 

Readily searchable, easy to download, all of the photos are licensed under the CC0 license. Looking for video? Well, they have a site for that too.

2)     Unsplash

Like Pexels, Unsplash brings together quality CC0 licensed images is a searchable database. Search functionality appears to be a bit more robust.

3)     Negative Space

Again, searchable repository of curated CC0 images.

4)     StockSnap.io

Still looking? You can try StockSnap.io

Looking for something a little different than what you might find on a traditional stock photo website?

5)     New York Public Libraries

New York is one of many of the world’s top institutions that has begun to share its digital collections within the public domain. Explore images across genres and history! For local flavour, check museum, library, and archive websites in your area to see if they have shared to the public domain.

6)     Superfamous Images

Exclusively featuring truly stunning natural images created by Superfamous Studios, all the photos are shared under a Creative Commons 3.0 license, which in short means that you need to credit the photographer. You’ll really want to.

7)     Gratisography

Looking for something a little quirkier? Even a little weird? Check our Gratisography. Many of its images have a bold sense of fun or irony.

8)     Foodies Feed

Not to be viewed on an empty stomach, Foodies Feed is a foodie’s fantasy replete with thousands of drool-worthy images. Can’t wait the six second download? They offer a membership to speed things along.

9)     New Old Stock

Beautiful, vintage photos spanning more than a century, this collection is tricky to search but well worth the effort. Unlike other sites in this collection, New Old Stock has been curated primarily from archival Flickr accounts and link back to the original owner. Images are not generally designated “public domain”, but rather “no known copyright restrictions”.

10)  Viintage

“Hundreds of thousands of copyright free vintage graphics.” ‘Nuff said.


11)  Flickr

Yes, you can use this photo sharing platform owned by Yahoo to find public domain photos! Simply select “no known copyright restrictions” from the “License” drop down on the search page. It can involve some real digging and an eye for a quality pic. You’ll be overwhelmed with choice from a mix of amateur and a few professional photographers, but it could be worth your efforts.

12)  Stencil

Surprise! This isn’t a stock photo site at all. Stencil is a Canadian-based social media image creation tool that comes with an extremely robust image database. Hosting more than 1 million free images, Stencil’s embedded image search tool is fast and reliable. You can find just about anything! The design tool itself is pretty awesome too.

Oh, and one final note… Just because the photographer has kindly offered up her permission to allow you to use their images, doesn’t mean that you can (or rather, should) use her images in a way that is offensive. Also, most photographers gratefully accept shout-outs and attributions. And if you really love a site a use lots of their images, a contribution to keep them up and running is generally a good thing.