It’s a bit of a cliche, I know, but when it comes to marketing your business, your visuals can make or break you.
Stock photos are more than just well-dressed, clean-cut professionals “candidly” laughing by the water cooler. Many stock photos are attention-grabbing, well-composed, and, ultimately, may be just what you need to spice up your social media presence or marketing collateral.
Note: While all of these websites offer a plethora of free stock photos, be sure to check out their individual licensing terms before use. Some common items to check for are the ability to use a free stock photo for commercial purposes and the ability to alter free stock photos. We offer a brief highlight of each website’s licensing terms, but may not cover the policy comprehensively.
The best free stock photo websites for commercial use in 2020
If you're on the hunt for free stock photos, look no further than the following websites.
Stocksnap.io is a modern-looking site with a clean interface. It categorizes its free stock photos by to
pic, combining typical options like “business” and “design” with more non-traditional categories like “walls” and “sun.”
All images on Stocksnap.io are governed by the terms of the Creative Commons CC0 license, which means you can download these images and use them (as-is or altered, if you have the graphic design chops) for both personal and commercial contexts.
Pexels is a crowdsourced website for free stock photos. The website hand picks free stock photos submitted by its users and compiles them into a tagged and searchable database.
Stock photos are governed by the Pexels license, which states photos can be used for commercial and non-commercial use, the modification of photos is allowed, and attribution is not required (but always appreciated).
With a variety of stock images, Pexels is also a great place to find weird stock photos for any use case.
Unsplash features more than 550,000 free high-resolution stock photos sorted into a variety of collections. Users can submit their own photos and follow the photographers they’ve become particularly fond of.
The stock photos on Unsplash can be used for free, commercially and personally, without permission from or credit to the photographer. Photos can be downloaded, copied, modified, and distributed.
Burst is a free stock photo platform powered by Shopify, an eCommerce platform.
Some photos on the website are governed by the Creative Commons CC0 license. Others are available under a non-exclusive license, which similarly allows users to download, copy, modify, and use photos for non-commercial and commercial use.
FoodiesFeed is more than just a website – it’s a community of food photographers and enthusiasts alike. The site features a comprehensive collection of free food stock photos, perfect for food bloggers of all kinds, with the goal of eliminating “sterile stock photos” from the internet.
These photos are governed by the Creative Commons CC0 license, so you know the drill.
Gratisography is a website chock-full of “quirky” images. With just a brief glance, you’ll understand these are not your typical stock photos – perfect if you’re looking to stand out from the crowd.
These images are completely free of copyright restrictions, meaning they can be used in advertising campaigns, printed in magazines, and even included on merchandise (as long as the picture itself isn’t the merchandise).
Related: Looking for a brain break during your work day? Check out this compilation of weird stock photos on the web for a laugh.
MMT Stock is a comprehensive resource of free stock photos and videos for commercial use. This site includes a extra feature that allows you to select a photo and customize different aspects of it (brightness, contrast, color, etc.) to use as your desktop wallpaper.
MMT Stock’s free stock photos are governed under the Creative Commons CC0 license.
Picjumbo is a stock photo website that offers both free stock photos and a premium membership option. With a premium membership, you get exclusive access to more than 5,000 additional stock photos, plus stock photos delivered to you via email every month.
The images can be used commercially, but Picjumbo emphasizes that you’re responsible for how you use the photos.
Kaboompics is unique in that every free stock photo on the website was taken by its founder, Karolina. The site’s creator takes and edits every stock photo on the website.
The photos are governed by the site’s unique license, which states the photos can be used for commercial and non-commercial use, attribution is not required, and the photos can be modified. The primary restriction (you’ll see this in almost all cases) is that the photos can’t be resold.
ImageFinder.co is unique in that it doesn’t feature its own free stock photos. Instead, it crawls the web to find free stock images related to the user’s search from a whole variety of stock photo websites.
All of the images it shows are licensed under the Creative Commons CC0 license. To download an image, the user will have to follow the link to the original host site.
New Old Stock is a free stock photo website that features vintage photos from public archives.
All of its photos are free of known copyright restrictions. While all photos are, at the least, available for personal use, you’ll need to do additional research if you plan to use a photo for commercial use.
Stockvault is a site featuring more than 130,000 free stock photos.
When using this site, tread cautiously, as not all of the images are allowed to be used commercially. Luckily, the site makes sorting easy, and you’re able to categorize your results based on commercial use photos, non-commercial use photos, and photos licensed under the Creative Commons CC0 license.
Rawpixel is a website offering both free and gated stock photos.
All of the free photos are governed under the Creative Commons CC0 license. Although the site mentions that it loves a shoutout when an image is used. If you can’t find what you’re looking for on the free version, there are two paid membership options – depending on your intended use of the photos.
Magdelaine.co is a site full of hand-picked stock photos. You can search for photos by category (nature, architecture, people, etc.), dominant color, or License. We recommend searching by license if you have plans to repurpose the images.
Some of the pictures require attribution, so be wary of that!
Epipcantus is a Tumblr page that photographer, Daria, posts for free use. All photos are released under creative commons CC0.
Comparing the best stock image websites
If you're a marketer or designer looking for the best of the best, check out what users think of the below stock websites. Although these aren't all free, they will definitely help enhance your current and future projects.
Claire is a Senior Marketing Manager at Blueprint and a former growth marketing team manager at G2. Born and raised in the Chicago area, her brief stint in Ohio (University of Dayton) gave her a new appreciation for deep-dish pizza, but left her well-versed in Cincinnati-style chili and "cities" with a population fewer than 400,000. While not writing, Claire can be found practicing calligraphy, seeking out the best dive bars in Chicago, and planning her next trip. (she/her/hers)