The 5 Best Free Stock Photo Sites To Have In Your Toolbox
Written by Matt Clement
Let’s face it. If you are a big brand or agency, budgets are tight. If you are a small brand or agency, budgets are tight. And, if you are right in the middle, budgets are tight. We all need to create more impact with less, stretching every dollar.
With this in mind, we are here to help! Here you will find 5 free stock photo sites that are known for their breadth, as well as uniqueness. In this way, you’ll be set up with a distinct set of tools to help you accomplish many types of creative initiatives.
So without any further ado, here is our list. We’ll tell you a little bit of the backstory for each site, what makes its bevy of resources unique, and point out where each site falls in terms of licensing.
Fancy Crave started three years ago when freelance photographer Igor Ovsyannykov began posting two high-quality photos daily from his adventures worldwide. The website has grown over these past few years and is now made up a handful of independent photographers. The pictures on this site are known for their unique feel which draws out the deep contrasts between colors. As you can see with the above shot, it’s easy to get pulled into these amazing shots.
My personal favorite section is the photo packs page, where you can get a group of high-quality shots based around a certain location or theme. These collections are very well curated and carry a consistent feel from shot to shot.
Photos are available for download free of charge under the Creative Commons Zero License. There is also a premium package that will gain you access to higher quality photos for just $29.99 per month.
When Mikael Cho, the founder of Crew, a Montreal-based platform for finding freelance designers and developers, posted 10 pictures on Unsplash.com back in 2015, he never expected the website would become such a popular source of free stock photos. The site now counts over 550,000 photos provided by 9000-plus photographers. On top of this, the site claims over 1000 shots are added each day. It is difficult to not be blown away by the breadth of resources available on Unsplash.
Within the License section of the site, Unsplash gratuitously lets the user know that they can download photos for free and “do whatever they want”. The resources can be used for commercial and non-commercial purposes and there is no need to provide credit to the photographer, although it is appreciated when possible.
Going about the site, it is easy to see why Unsplash considers themselves the home of the “most generous community of photographers in the world”.
Pixabay was founded by two European photographers, Hans Braxmeier and Simon Steinberger in Ulm, Germany in 2011. The site was built out as a straightforward database for the two individuals. That all changed in March of 2012, as Pixabay was redesigned, switching from a personal image collection into an interactive online community, supporting 20 languages. Since then the site has done nothing but take off.
Pixabay is set apart in that it offers a broader set of assets than most free stock image sites, as you have easy access to photos, illustrations, vector files, and videos directly from the homepage. While the illustration and vector files leave something to be desired, the videos and specifically the drone footage within that section are excellent.
All images and videos on Pixabay are released under the Creative Commons Zero License. Thus, they may be used freely for almost any purpose – even commercially and in printed format. The site goes on to state that attribution is suggested but not required.
Life of Pix
Life of Pix is a superbly constructed site from the Montreal-based creative agency, Leeroy. It gives you well-edited shots that uniquely and deeply capture the subject. In classifying the resources, I would hold my description to two words: scenic and minimalistic. Thus, if you are looking for inspirational assets that you can design over with copy, this is your site.
Life of Pix is matched (and linked to within the site) to Life of Vids, the stock imagery site’s video brother. Of all the free stock video sites I’ve seen this one takes the cake. The quality is unmatched among the category.
The only drawbacks for Life of Pix and Life of Vids would have to be the number of resources. Matching them up to larger sites such as Pixabay and Unsplash, you will not find the breadth. I would argue the quality more than makes up the difference.
Although the site does not directly point out the Creative Commons Zero license, it states similar verbiage. Information indicating as such can be found on their About Page.
Finally, we want to mention RawPixel. The site is fairly new, as they only began archiving and offering content through the public domain in 2017. Hence, the content is not extensive in quantity. The quality of the resources, though, are top of the line.
Not only is RawPixel a great site for photos, but it also holds a substantial amount of free vectors, PSD files, and illustrations. It’s literally a free treasure trove for the creative mind. In order to access the free section of the site, simply click on the Free or Public Domain tab in the toolbar.
Although not all of the assets on RawPixel are free and under Creative Commons Zero, a good selection of them are.
If you are interested in going deeper than what is available through the Free section or Public Domain, you can check out their price plans here.
Happy Free Stock Photo Hunting!
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