One of the hardest problems new bloggers and publishers often encounter is sourcing images on a tight budget. Even if you tend to use your own snaps for your personal blog, it’s not always easy to get the right image to represent the content of the article.
If you’re writing about a specific company, the first thing you should do is to contact them to find out if they have any royalty-free images that you can use. When this isn’t possible, there are some great sites out there where you can pick up free photos, icons and graphics for non-commercial means (you can’t use them in advertising material!).
We’ve curated this guide with our top picks of the best websites for free stock photos. Just make sure you read any licensing restrictions for any images you plan to use – although many are licensed under Creative Commons, some still do ask for a citation.
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With well over 1 million images, Pixabay tops our list due to the search functionality. On most other free stock photo sites they broad match on each word in the search phrase, so if you searched for ‘man jeans’ it would return all photos tagged for ‘jeans’ + ‘man’ + ‘woman’ (as it has ‘man’ within the word).
Pixabay excels by only returning relevant results (the image must be tagged with ALL of the search terms), meaning less time scrolling through thousands of images to find the perfect one.
Unlike most other stock photo sites, Unsplash has a lot of images uploaded by bloggers as well as photographers. This makes it especially good for fashion and beauty images, with the only disappointment being the search functionality.
However, it does allow you to see any collections an image has been added to so that you can get ideas of other images available that may fit well within the content.
Pexels is another free photo heavyweight with an enviable collection of professional snaps to choose from. What it lacks in relevancy of some search results in makes up for in inspiration.
It’s got a useful section where you can see the most popular photos, as well as a leaderboard to quickly identify the most highly ranked contributors. This helps to discover the best photo portfolios to find higher quality images faster.
StockSnap.io is another site that excels in fashion photography with thousands of images available. For every image you can see how many times it’s been viewed (so you can get an idea of how visually popular it is), as well as the total times it’s been downloaded.
You don’t have to sign up to download any photos you find, but unlike Pixabay there’s no option to select the size of the image.
For business and general stock photography, PicJumbo is a great resource and you should be able to find something suitable. It tends to have more traditional stock images than Unsplash, making it better for publishers rather than bloggers.
It carries a lot more advertising than the other sites and the website isn’t as nice to use as the others, but it’s worth checking out when you need something more corporate.