Whether you are a graphic designer creating awesome content for your clients, or a blogger who writes articles on a daily basis, there is one common need you both have: fresh and high quality stock images! Finding good quality “free” images used to be nearly impossible. Not anymore! These days, there are a handful of sites offering free stock images in more than servicable quality.
Although the number of great quality images are still very small compared to established microstock sites like Shutterstock, these free sites are just getting better and better. The number of people willing to contribute to these free sites is quite high even though there is no compensation for contributors apart from voluntary donations of the people who download the images.
Most of these sites have an approval process in place to make sure low quality contributions are filtered out. Let me cut the introduction short and share the best free stock image sites with you. I hope you find them useful.
Disclaimer: Just a little warning you probably already know: Even tough downloading images from these websites is generally ok, you can never be %100 legally safe as it’s always possible that some of the uploaders of these sites could be submitting copyrighted content that belong to somebody else. Use them at your own risk and make your own assessments.
At the time of me writing this article, Pixabay had 2.1 million “free” images and videos that you can download. That is a huge number for a free image library. I like the fact that they made it quite easy for image downloading members to make donations to image creators.
2- Unsplash With over 2 million images available for free, Unsplash is just as good as Pixabay with their offering. One downside they have compared to Pixabay in my opinion; is unlike pixabay, they don’t let users to directly make donations to image contributors. Even tough that donation button doesn’t really earn contributors anything meaningful, it definitely looks more enticing for potential contributors.
3- Pexels Although not as strong as Pixabay on illustration and vector fronts, pexels is still a very good source, photography wise. They also make it easy if you would like to make a donation to contributing photographers. Here is a photo from pexels:
4- Stocksnap The image collection on stocksnap may be a little weaker than the first 3 sites for the time being. Nonetheless it’s definitely a site worth checking out if you are on the lookout for free stock images. Just like the one below, there are some very high quality images on Stocksnap. The downside is (at the time I wrote this article) that I couldn’t download a blog-size version of the sample image. I had to download full size version of the image, then resize it to make it much smaller before posting it here.
Pikwizard made it into my list thanks to their “image edit tool” that let’s you edit the image before you download it. That’s a welcome functionality that the top 4 sites don’t have. Pikwizard may not be your go to source for free images, but it’s definitely an up and coming site with a lot of potential. I have to add, just like Stocksnap, I didn’t like the idea of not having an option to download a blog-size version of the image.
Worth Mentioning: These are the sites that couldn’t make it into my top 5, but you still have to check them out if you are having hard time finding the right image.
Flickr Not all images on flickr are free and if you forget to check the license you may get in trouble. But as advertised there are billions of photos on flickr, and as long as you make sure to pay attention to the licenses they come with, there is a huge selection of free photos on the site.
Freeimages Filling up the shoes of the legendary sxc.hu, freeimages.com had to be mentioned. Owned by GettyImages, this site is used for driving traffic to the iStock collection. Since their primary goal is driving traffic to a paid collection, freeimages isn’t growing at the rate of the previous 4 sites. They might even become irrelevant in the future, but for now they are a good alternative.
Wikimedia Commons Last source I want to mention is Wikimedia Commons. This is a huge library that has a lot of valuable resources. When I want to search Wikimedia Commons for images, I find it easier to just go to “google image search” and type site:commons.wikimedia.org into the search box. Let’s say you want to search for the term “book”. Just type in site:commons.wikimedia.org book to reveal all the book images from Wikimedia Commons.
Adobe Stock Free Collection
This is a brand new collection from industry giants Adobe. They have launched a free section on their site just as I was writing this article. At first glance, I noticed they have got a good variety of content as they are also offering vectors and videos along with photos. Coming from Adobe, this offering may soon blow the competition out of the water.