Every website needs high-quality images, period. Headers, article and cover images, social media, icons – the list is endless. Even if you’re a photographer, you probably don’t have time to take a photo every time you need one. You could hire a professional photographer, but that costs a lot of money.
One great alternative is using free photography. Stock images have a bad reputation for being distracting and unhelpful, but there are plenty of beautiful, professional and entirely free photos available for use by web designers. And we’ve already found them for you – here are some of the best free photography resources out there.
With over 1,000,000 images, all free for commercial or noncommercial use, Unsplash is one of the best websites to find pictures. Photos are submitted by a massive community of open photographers and semi-strict guidelines ensure quality. If you need nature or portrait photography in particular, Unsplash has plenty of those to choose from.
Pixabay is all about variety. In categories where other free resources may be lacking, such as in abstract works, illustrations and vectors, or technology/internet-related concepts, Pixabay photographers have you covered. There are quality guidelines, but anyone can submit.
Also check out the free stock videos, licensed under the same rules, and with the same variety of content!
StockSnap is another massive collection of free CC0 photos that includes business, nature, people, food, and a huge variety of other topics. StockSnap also has a good selection of more artistic content, such as flat-lay scenes and abstract wallpapers. With new photos every day, this is a great resource for stock images.
Pexels gets right to the point: Free stock photos and videos, for use anywhere, any time. Portrait photos seem especially popular. For photographers, photo challenges with prizes and PayPal donations are great incentives to participate, so you’ll see many high-quality photos here.
Burst is a project by Shopify that brings free photos to everyone – even people who don’t use Shopify. The photos are contributed by the community and categorized for easy searching. Portraits, animals, textures, nature photos and backgrounds are Burst’s specialty – especially ones that are made with business and e-commerce in mind.
ISO Republic has a strong mix of trendy stock photos with high quality resolutions. The site also includes free stock video footage with easy-to-use search to filter what type of media you’re looking for. ISO Republic’s photo and videos are released under the same CC0 license.
Wikimedia Commons is a great place to find free photographs, videos and even sounds that depict nearly any topic you can imagine. When using this resource be careful and always check the license – the only guarantee is that the photos are licensed under Creative Commons and are free. You may be required to display attribution or share alike. There are also no strict quality guidelines, so you may have to look through some photos that are unsuitable for professional use.
Flickr has helpfully categorized its Creative Commons and public domain uploads, down to sorting them by attribution, share alike and other requirements. The website is a simple image sharing and uploading service, so it has no quality guidelines. But you may still find a keeper in here.
High-Quality Free Photography
There are plenty of amazing free photos to use from a growing list of generous photographers. Whenever you use someone else’s work, make sure to check licensing and terms of service carefully. Some sites are free forever, while others allow you to use photos only under certain guidelines. It’s better to do the extra research rather than end up in hot water.