My Favorite Free Stock Photography Sites

I’m a regular user of stock photos in my blog. Here is a selection of the sites I frequent the most in order to find high-quality free stock photos.

And by “free” I mean ideally supporting the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, which means you can do what you want with the image.

Compfight

Compfight free stock photography website
Compfight free stock photography website
  • Free photos: unknown (a lot)
  • License: Various

Compfight is an image search engine for Flickr. By default, search results pages include images with all licenses, so you need to filter your results in order to only view photos that can be used freely.

Note that even then some images may still require attribution, so you should pay attention to the license for any image you are considering using.

Compfight offers limited filtering and no sorting options on search results pages. I tend to use Compfight only if I can’t find an image on one of the other sites below.

FindA.Photo

finda.photo free stock photos website
finda.photo free stock photos website
  • Free photos: unknown (thousands)
  • License: CC0

FindA.Photo is a search engine covering 10 free stock photo websites, including Unsplash (included below). All photos are Creative Commons CC0 license and are completely free to use. The site offers a minimalist aesthetic and limited search and browse functionality.

The FindA.Photo home page offers several browsing options, including by color, theme, and source website. There are no sorting or filtering options for search results; however, the search tips page offers quite sophisticated advanced search queries for generating a search with more precise parameters.

I tend to find the search results to be less relevant than the other sites in this list, thanks to photos sometimes being incorrectly tagged. The site does not provide any options to save photos to a lightbox for review.

Freeimages

Freeimages free stock photo website
Freeimages free stock photography website
  • Free photos: 390,000
  • License: various (mostly free to use)

Unlike the other sites on this list, Freeimages does not offer a CC0 license. Although their license agreement is effectively free for most uses (e.g., on websites), there are certain restrictions including use in a logos or in electronic templates (e.g., WordPress themes).

The site offers robust search filtering options, including by orientation, popularity, resolution, and color. You can also order search results by a variety of options, including popularity and resolution.

In addition you can search within results, which is helpful for drilling down within a large number of results.

Image thumbnails on gallery pages are quite small, but hovering over one displays a larger version in an overlay. There is no option to save a photo to a lightbox from a gallery page, but you can do so from an individual photo page.

A helpful addition to the individual photo page is the inclusion of a gallery of similar images, making it easy to browse within a theme.

Gratisography

Gratisography free stock photos website
Gratisography free stock photography website
  • Free photos: unknown
  • License: CC0

Unlike the other sites on this list, the photos on Gratisography are all taken by one person, Ryan McGuire.

As a result, the site offers a much smaller selection of images than most free photo sites, but the images themselves are often extremely visually arresting and surprising; they are very different to what you will find on most stock photo websites.

The site offers limited browsing by category and no search refinement options. You can download a photo directly from the gallery page, but there are no options to favorite an image or add it to a lightbox.

LibreStock

LibreStock free stock photography website
LibreStock free stock photography website
  • Free photos: 61,000
  • License: CC0

LibreStock is a stock photography search engine which searches 47 free stock photo websites, including Pexels, Pixabay, and StockSnap. It only lists photos that are completely free for personal or commercial use (CC0 license).

I’m not clear howLibreStock indexes the photos on other sites; for example, limiting the search scope on LibreStock to just include photos from Pixabay and searching for “cat” returns 221 photos. However, the same search on Pixabay itself displays 9,460 photos.

The site offers no sorting of filtering options of search results, or the ability to save photos to lightboxes. Clicking on a photo takes you to the original site to download the image.

Pexels

Pexels free stock photo website
Pexels free stock photography website
  • Free photos: 25,000
  • License: CC0

In addition to a traditional search function, Pexels offers a few additional ways to browse images, including browsing by category, by color, and by most popular search terms.

Pexels does not offer any built-in search refinement options, but does show you related searches on the search results page. The site does offer limited advanced search capabilities so that you can exclude terms or specify a color along with your search phrase.

Pexels also offers a selection of free videos covering a range of categories.

Pixabay

Pixabay free stock photos website
Pixabay free stock photography website
  • Free photos: 790,000
  • License: CC0

Pixabay offers a huge selection of photos, illustrations, vector graphics, and videos, all under the Creative Commons Zero license. The site provides advanced search options within the search box, along with a robust selection of filtering options, including filtering by orientation and size.

It does not offer the ability to favorite photos directly from the search results page or to add them to a lightbox. To add a photo to your favorites you must create an account first. Pixabay lets you download different sizes of an image, so you don’t always have to download the largest original version.

Pixabay offers a variety of ‘goodies‘ in the form of software plugins and scripts, including a WordPress plugins that enable you to display Pixabay galleries on your site and to directly embed photos.

StockSnap.io

StockSnap.io free stock photo website
StockSnap.io free stock photography website
  • Free photos: unknown
  • License: CC0

All photos on StockSnap.io are published under the CC0 license. The site offers limited filtering options of search results (mostly based on recency or popularity). You can download photos as a guest, but you must be logged in to add a photo to your favorites as there is no guest user lightbox option for saving photos for later review.

Each individual photo page includes a list of tags, making it easy to view related categories that you may not have considered.

Stock Up

Stock Up free stock photography website
Stock Up free stock photography website
  • Free photos: 14,400
  • License: mostly CC0

Stockup indexes and searches photos from 28 free photo websites, including Unsplash, also on this list.

The site offers no search filtering or sorting options, and you cannot add an image to a lightbox or download it from a gallery page. Clicking on the photo takes you to the original on the source photo website.

Unsplash

Unsplash free stock photo website
Unsplash free stock photography website
  • Free photos: 80,000
  • License: CC0

All photos on Unsplash use the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, so you are free to use them however you want. No options are provided for refining or filtering search results, but you can download a photo right from the search results page, which is handy.

Instead of a lightbox, you can add photos to a collection for future review. You can also share these collections publicly on Unsplash for other people to browse.

Don’t forget to try out the Unsplash Source API which lets you embed photos via a URL. It’s a great way for adding placeholder images to a prototype.

Visual Hunt

Visual Hunt free stock photography website
Visual Hunt free stock photography website
  • Free photos: 75,000 (CC0 license)
  • License: Various

Visual Hunt is a search aggregator for other photo websites. It offers limited search filtering options, including one to filter by color, which might be useful if you wanted to find a photo to match a particular color scheme.

Visual Hunt does provide an easy-to-use lightbox at the base of the search results screen, which makes it easy to add images for future review as you are browsing through them.

One thought on “My Favorite Free Stock Photography Sites

  1. Fantastic list!

    I’m a keen graphic artist and assist the creative online community by supplying free stock images on my site. My website Is called Blogpiks and I supply high quality artwork absolutely free with no copyright constraints. Simply top quality design and simple downloading…

    My endeavor can be seen at http://blogpiks.com.

    I would feel privileged if you could add me to your report.

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