20 Great Websites for Stock Photography (free and paid)
Though nothing beats a professional photographer who can produce bespoke images tailored directly to your needs, sometimes stock photography is a worthy compromise. Whether it’s due to budgetary issues or the simple convenience of having instant access to thousands of readymade images, most of us will find ourselves, from time-to-time, turning to stock.
With that said, it’s good to know what resources are out there. So here are 8 websites (both paid and free) for you to explore when you’re next on the hunt for stock photography.
A note on licensing
Many photographs sourced from free stock image providers are either free from copyright restrictions or licensed under the creative commons public domain dedication. What this means is that you can use the images freely, even for commercial work, without needing permission.
Sometimes, however, certain photos do require attribution. So it’s always advisable to put in some research beforehand, just to be on the safe side.
And with that said, let’s get to our list of great stock photography resources. . .
Unsplash offers an infinite-scroll homepage, search bar, and a ‘collections’ page. So you can choose from randomly browsing the library, honing in on something ultra-specific, or narrowing your options down to a broad collection within specific parameters. An example of some of the collections: Urban Landscapes, Minimalism Life, Lonely Planet, Creatures.
A simple and user-friendly layout, Picography lets you scroll through a large catalogue of free images at your leisure.
Search feature, dedicated ‘top best’ and ‘new’ photos sections, and a generous number of categories to narrow your results. Splitshire is a comprehensive website made even more impressive by the fact that it’s free.
Nice and simple. Does exactly what it says on the tin. Thousands of pictures from a broad range of categories. Plus the all-important, time-saving search feature. FreeImages is a foolproof free resource.
Free and easy to navigate, Pikwizard features a great range of high quality stock images. It’s also particularly valuable for anyone looking to source images of people.
Negative Space offers new photographs every week, with no copyright restrictions. One of the standout features of this library is its user-friendly navigation and categorisation system, which allows you to find the images you’re looking for quickly and easily.
PixaBay features a plethora of visual content — from free stock images to vector graphics and illustrations. It’s an excellent place to source high-quality images, and, in the website’s own words:
“All contents are released under the Pixabay License, which makes them safe to use without asking for permission or giving credit to the artist – even for commercial purposes.”
For both commercial and non-commercial projects, Picjumbo provides a solid amount of free imagery to choose from. And with frequent updates to their collection, it’s a site worth returning to.
(Note that Picjumbo also offers a paid premium service).
Launched to help entrepreneurs produce higher quality marketing content, many of Burst’s photographs were captured in-house, covering many topics from popular to niche.
Featuring a huge collection of stock imagery, and aimed primarily at start-ups and freelancers, Reshot is a fantastic and reliable source of good-quality photographs.
Offering something a little more niche, Foodiesfeed (as you might have guessed) specialise in food photography. It’s really a great resource for anyone looking to feature good culinary-based photography in their designs.
Curated by founder and owner Jeffrey Betts, Foca offers a fantastic selection of free stock photographs, updated weekly and sorted into collections for easy navigability.
Another excellent resource for free stock imagery. Featuring a large and varied library, most themes will be catered for by Kaboompics.
Note that photos can be used for commercial purposes but cannot be sold or redistributed.
This is a great place to find stock imagery. Another quality source of quality content, with frequent updates and a huge library to browse.
iStock operates on a credit system, essentially meaning that you buy a certain number of photographs at a preset pay-as-you-go price. Alternatively they offer a subscription service, allowing you to download a capped amount of photographs each months for a set price.
Their flexible purchase system makes iStock a good place for paid stock imagery. They also offer illustration, video, and audio, which is a big bonus for many people.
Photos, vectors, editorial images, footage, and music. Shutterstock offers a wide range of options for use in a variety of projects. Another paid-for service, Shutterstock offers users a no-strings ‘on demand’ option. Or there are numerous monthly subscriptions to choose from. Shutterstock even offer their own editing software.
Of all the paid-for services mentioned in this post, Bigstock gives some of the best value for money. Offering subscribers the same number of image downloads per day that others offer in a month. It’s a simple website to navigate, with a search bar that allows you to switch between image and video searches via a drop-down menu.
Getty Images is colossal resource. Familiar to most, it’s one of the big players in stock imagery, and boasts a library featuring millions of photographs, illustrations, and images. They also offer photos that can be purchased on an individual basis.
Another huge name, Adobe Stock is a little different in that its content is compatible with Creative Suit’s design tools. This makes Adobe Stock an essential resource for anyone subscribed to Adobe’s Creative Cloud.
Creative Suit users can also purchase images from directly inside Photoshop, InDesign, Premiere Pro, and Illustrator, making it even more convenient to use.
Death to Stock is a subscription-based stock image provider, featuring monthly updates to their library.
Their key aim is to provide unique, relevant, and high-quality images to their users. In the words of the website: “Cheesy and overused stock photos have invaded our internet. Now we’re taking it back.”
Incorporating your images
For some tips and tricks on how to best use photography in your design, take a look at our essential guide to using photography in web design.
Note: this post is an opinion piece. Red Square Design has no affiliation with any of the websites listed above.