Top 5 Sites for Free Stock Photos and Images

Today, there are millions of royalty-free photos available for download throughout the internet, for design and information purposes. We’re no longer restricted to the often inferior, not quite what we need, and always costly stock photography that used to be the case. So, whether you’re building a website, publishing a newsletter or adding interest to a blog, you can easily find the images you need among the many photographs uploaded for anybody to use, no strings attached.

Such images are available – unless intellectual property is involved – for you to use under a Creative Commons Zero license which gives you the right to copy, modify, and distribute the images without asking permission. Some free stock photo websites have individualized licenses based on CC0. For more information on Creative Commons, see:

For graphic designers, authors, journalists, bloggers and website developers, the five best picks for great free stock photos are:




Here, you’ll find a huge database of high-resolution images selected from contributor uploads and other free image sources. The many thousands of free stock photos included in the collection are all tagged and fully searchable.

Site management here ensures that all pictures it publishes are CC0 licensed and Pexels’ Application Programming Interface is available, with specifications for use, for application developers.




Burst is targeted to entrepreneurs and creative professionals and has an emphasis on diversity. It has a self-identification program which provides contributors with full control of the search terms for their images and ability to ensure the correct identification in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, etc. It’s the place to go for art directors looking to reach specific audiences.

You can sign up at Burst to have the top new free stock photos sent to your inbox on a weekly basis.




An international website for sharing high-quality public domain photos, Pixabay offers more than a million free photos, illustrations, and vectors and videos. Beginning as the founder’s personal image collection in 2010, it has become an interactive community of more than thirty thousand image contributors and, today supports twenty languages.

Stats are available on the images you select, including the number of views, downloads, the camera used, etc. Pixabay also provides access to many Shutterstock images under a sponsorship arrangement that eliminates the need for advertising on the site.




One of the world’s leading photography sites, Unsplash positions itself as a photo discovery platform for free to use quality images contributed in the spirit of fostering creativity. An editorial team and curators selected from members of its community to carefully evaluate contributions from both amateur and professional photographers.

Unsplash has a custom license which is similar to CC0 but, additionally, restricts images being downloaded to be incorporated in other collections.



StockSnap selects only images of the highest quality from thousands of submissions in order to position itself as the best place for free stock photos. Photographers are all identified and provided links back to their profiles. Views and downloads are tracked so that high demand images can be easily found.

Sign up for StockSnap’s newsletter, and you’ll receive a weekly bundle of ten submissions in a ZIP file.

While these free stock photo sites do not require attribution when images are used, it is recommended that the photographers be credited for their work. A word of warning – while they are CC0 licensed, depicted content in images may be protected by trademarks or other such rights and so that the content, as opposed to the image, may not be free to use. You should also ensure that model releases have been signed by any recognizable people in the images you select.