As a digital marketer, I am constantly on the lookout for resources to use in content. Here is a list of free photo resources for 2019.
- Public Domain Archive
- New Old Stock
- Pik Wizard
Some on this list are better than others and the list isn't necessarily in order of best to worst. I'll provide a rundown of each and you can decide which is the best resource for your projects.
For the money, (which is none) Pexels may be the best resource you can find. The images on Pexels are top notch, and absolutely professional.
Some of the benefits of Pexels include:
- The website itself is very well designed, and organized.
- If you are looking for inspiration, you can scroll through images on the home page endlessly.
- The preview images are large enough you don't have to rollover images to see a larger version.
- There is a simple search box at the top of the page if you are looking for something specific.
- The mix of photography is fantastic, and the images don’t feel “stock.” One could easily think you took the photo yourself. (if you were that good.)
- Perhaps one of the best features of Pexels, is that it’s not a loss leader to a large paid stock photo company. Pexel’s is exactly what it says it is, free photos.
- Pexel has a variety of images only seen in a paid stock photo site. You’ll be amazed as I was with the variety of images they give you for free.
Another amazing aspect of Pexels is their license agreement.
- All photos on Pexels can be used for free for commercial and non-commercial use.
- Attribution is not required. Giving credit to the photographer or Pexels is not necessary but always appreciated.
- You can modify the photos. Be creative and edit the photos as you like.
Therefore, based on quality, quantity, user experience and most all their license agreement, Pexels is a 10 out of 10.
Another fantastic resource that is a must bookmark for your favorites bar is UnSplash. This like Pexels is a completely free photo resource.
Some benefits of UnSplash include:
- Very clean design. This site is all about photography.
- Large images with endless scrolling. You don’t have to rollover images to see a larger view.
- A simple search at the top of the page allows you to quickly find images by keyword.
- UnSplash provides five main categories of search to help narrow your initial findings.
- Easily find inspiration by scrolling a vast, and endless library of photos.
- UnSplash is not a loss leader for a large paid stock photo site.
- Clicking the “Explore” navigation at the top of the site opens further categories to search from.
One of the best thing about unsplash is its license agreement.
All photos published on Unsplash can be used for free. You can use them for commercial and non-commercial purposes. You do not need to ask permission from or provide credit to the photographer or Unsplash, although it is appreciated when possible.
More precisely, Unsplash grants you an irrevocable, nonexclusive, worldwide copyright license to download, copy, modify, distribute, perform, and use photos from Unsplash for free, including for commercial purposes, without permission from or attributing the photographer or Unsplash. This license does not include the right to compile photos from Unsplash to replicate a similar or competing for service.
Therefore, based on quality, quantity, user experience, in addition to their license agreement, unsplash is also a 10 out of 10.
If you are looking for images with a lot of character and quirkiness then Gratisography is the place to find them. This is a fun stock site that has images styles not found elsewhere.
Benefits of Gratisography include:
- The uniqueness of images.
- Large format photos that don’t need rollover to see well.
- Clean, well-designed site.
- Easily browse with the search bar or through categories.
Unfortunately, one drawback to Gratisography is that that you have to navigate page by page. There is no continuous scroll, which some users may actually prefer. Another drawback is a slightly more complicated license agreement:
What you CAN do with these pictures
Almost anything you can think of.
You may use Gratisography pictures as you please for both personal and commercial projects. You can adapt and modify the images and get paid for work that incorporates the pictures.
This includes advertising campaigns, adding your logo or text to an image, printed in any size print runs (e.g., book covers, magazines, posters, etc.), on your website, blog, or other digital mediums, and on merchandise as long as the picture itself is not the merchandise.
What you CAN’T do with these images
You can’t redistribute Gratisography pictures, including on other stock (paid or free) sites/apps, or give them to other people to use. You can’t claim the photos as your own or imply that Gratisography or any of the models, brands, or anything in the pictures has endorsed you or your product. Gratisography pictures can’t be used in pornographic, criminal, defamatory, hateful, degrading, unlawful, immoral purposes or to promote or sell illegal drugs, drug use, pornography, weapons, or prostitution.
It’s possible that some pictures may be subject to other intellectual property rights, such as trademark, publicity, or privacy rights. Gratisography does not represent or make any warranties that it owns or licenses any of these rights or can it grant them.
As a result, if you are needing a unique image that you can’t find anywhere else, it’s worth a shot to look at Gratisography. In addition, with slightly difficult user experience and license agreement, I rank Gratisography a 9 out of 10. Certainly, Gratisography is well worth the effort to keep in your bookmark list.
According to the website, Morguefile started in 1996 to serve as a free image exchange for students and creatives. Since then, the site has grown into a community of contributors still committed to providing the public with high-quality photos for both personal and commercial use.
Benefits of Morguefile include:
- Endless scrolling of photos creates a nice user experience to browse photos.
- Users can request a photo be taken by the community. (if you’re willing to wait)
- A simple search of keywords and categories for photos.
- Easily create an account and upload photos for the community if you’re a photographer.
- While Morguefile has a wide variety of photos, the photos tend to be of lower quality than our previous examples. You can still find high-quality work at Morguefile but you may need to search more for that right photo.
- In addition, the endless scrolling is nice but the photos a smaller than our previous examples.
- Probably the most unappealing is that the site is an affiliate for large stock photo sites. This isn’t an issue as long as you know that the photos listed from these sites are not part of Morguefile.
- Finally, the license agreement is lengthy and not overly clear. They speak to photographers and site users with lengthy legal speak.
In conclusion, I would rank Morguefile a 7 out of 10.
Public Domain Archive
Public Domain Archive offers some of the more photo art pieces you will find in a stock photo resource. This is not the site to use if you need a wide variety of photos to choose from. The site is very limited in the number of photos it has available for download. However, the photos do change on a weekly basis.
Benefits of Public Domain Archive include:
- Large photo, beautifully taken photos.
- Very clean website design.
- Unique images for very unique purposes
- This site offers large, very unique and professional quality photos. However, there are very few choices.
- In addition, the site is a little too simple, and not as easy to navigate as some of our other choices.
- Finally, use the photos at your own risk, as there is no license agreement. The terms and conditions page opens a 404 page.
In conclusion, for select projects, Public Domain Archive offers some very nice and unique photography. However, limited photo count and lack of license agreement make some of our other options a better choice. I rank Public Domain Archive a 6 out of 10.
New Old Stock
If you are looking for some photos that are vintage from years gone by, New Old Stock is a good resource. This site is independently owned and pull photos from the public archive.
Benefits of New Old Stock:
- Simple clean design, with large images to select from.
- One unique feature of New Old Stock is the sites twitter feed shows all the photos available with links to the photo. So, you can browse on site or zip through the twitter feed to find the photo that interests you.
- Photos from New Old Stock come straight from the public archive.
- While there are photos at New Old Stock you won’t find anywhere but the public archives, there are not that many available on the site.
- It’s unclear what the license agreement is for the images. Even the owner of the website isn’t clear on how one can use these images.
- The navigation is difficult on this site, but the twitter feed does make it more manageable.
In conclusion, I keep New Old Stock in my list of favorites for the simple reason that I never know when I will need some kind of vintage shot that you can only get out of the public archive. I rate this site a 5 out of 10.
Started by a professional photographer Ed Gregory, Stockpic is an excellent site full of high-quality images that are all produced by Ed Gregory. Ed started the site with all of the photos he had laying around on a bunch of external hard drives. He figured he wasn’t using them and nobody would ever see them, so why not give them away? Well Ed, might I personally say “thank you!”
Benefits of Stockpic:
- Since Ed is the creator of the photos on the website, he makes the rules. Therefore, as Ed puts his rules right on the home page, "(Stokpic License) Basically You can do anything apart from redistributing.
- All professional images. All high-quality.
- Clean, visually appealing website with images easy to see.
- Simple navigation between categories and keyword search.
- Ed will send you photos directly to your inbox. Signup and 10 free, every week.
There are not many drawbacks to Stokpic. There’s not much to dislike. However, I would consider the following more limitations than anything.
- Since all of the photos are taken by Ed, all the photos have the same style. Ed, is clearly a pro so this isn’t much of a problem.
- The navigation and user experience isn’t bad but I would prefer an infinite scroll so I would quickly move through the photos.
In conclusion, I don’t have much negative to say. Stokpic is an excellent resource and I would rank it an 8 out of 10.
There is no information about when PIKWIZARD was started or who owns the site but PIKWIZARD is a well-crafted website with fantastic images. PIKWIZARD has a feature that no other site has, and that’s a photo editor. Select an image, click the editor and start manipulating.
Benefits of PIKWIZARD:
- Large photo library.
- Images are large with no need for navigating to zoom in the image.
- There is a wide variety of images.
- High contrast cityscape images that I haven’t seen on many free sites.
- Unique categories for photos, unlike other photo sites.
- The photo grid is great, but the navigation is a little clunky. The categories don’t break down very sensibly, but there is a keyword search.
- The photos seem somewhat standard, but they are very well done and look like a paid stock site.
In conclusion, PIKWIZARD is definitely a site to keep in the bookmarks. It comes with a few unique options that you don’t see on even paid stock photo sites. All in all a very good free stock photo resource. I rate PIKWIZARD 9 out of 10.
BURST is my favorite free stock photo site. I may be biased, but BURST has all the elements of a free stock site I would want.
As stated in the about us section, Burst is a free stock photo platform that is powered by Shopify. Their photographers are constantly shooting and uploading high-resolution images to help our users find the perfect free stock photo for their next project. Their goal is to build the best free image library for entrepreneurs, so we’re constantly uploading new photos and adding new categories to reflect current trends in e-commerce and retail.
Benefits of BURST:
- Navigation is fantastic, easily selected categories, popular photos, and keyword search.
- There are broad categories and a seemingly endless library of high-quality photos.
- There are unique features of the site not seen on any other site such as business opportunities and social media posting tips.
- Category grid, as well as a mega menu, make it easy to narrow your search.
- Almost more than anything, I like the dark theme they used for the site. It makes the images really pop off the page.
- Last, but not least, you can download both high resolutions are low-resolution images. Many sites are low resolution only.
This is the only free photo site that I can find no drawbacks. All of the elements that you would want in a free photo resource are brought together in Burst.
In addition to the benefits I’ve already highlighted, you can also add:
- You can do whatever you want to the photos you download. (except resell them of course)
- You use the photo in any medium of any project.
- As a photographer you can upload any photos you would like to add to the Burst collection.
In closing, Burst has it all. If you only had access to one free stock photo site, Burst would be the one to choose. I give Burst a 10 out of 10. Maybe a 10+.
Dreamstime is more than a free photo site. It also offers illustrations, videos and paid stock photos. Dreamstime is the site that most represents a traditional paid stock site, (mostly because it is) but it does have a decent library of free stock photos and even the paid resources are more reasonable than most paid sites.
Dreamstime boasts some powerful numbers beyond the number of photos they possess. As written on the about us page, “As of March 2019, Dreamstime numbers 24,000,000 registered members, more than 500,000 contributing photographers and over 99,000,000 photos, illustrations, clip art, and vectors. With unique visitors exceeding 11,000,000 monthly, the agency occupies the 2nd place in stock photography audience and image licensing worldwide.”
Benefits of Dreamstime:
- A large library of images. However, not all images are free.
- Quick keyword search for the right image.
- Many additional resources including videos and illustrations.
- Large stock image community submitting photos.
- A broad variety of images. You can find what you need here.
- The design of Dreamstime can feel somewhat clunky because they have so much going on. They’ve done a good job of categorizing the site but I often feel I don’t know where my eye should look.
- The website can feel like they reserve all their really good stuff for the paid images, but the vastness of the resources allows plenty of opportunities to find the right photo for your projects.
In conclusion, Dreamstime is definitely worth having in your free stock arsenal. They have a nice app for mobile. Don’t be afraid to look into some of their paid images as well, the pricing makes it worth a look. I consider Dreamstime an 8 out of 10.
If you do some searching online you’ll run into additional free stock sites and indeed there are many more. As a design professional, I am constantly on the lookout for additional resources and have at least 25 free stock photo sites saved in my bookmarks. Of all the sites I’ve saved these are what I consider to be the best all-around resources.
For any photo resource just make sure that you review their license agreements. All of the sites I’ve listed here have license agreements that allow you to download and do anything you want with the photo except resell it. Again, it’s always great for the photographer who invested their time and effort to supply you the photo with a good shout out on your projects.
If you’ve come across additional resources you think should be added to this list, please comment below and let me know what your favorite site on my list is as well.