Free stock images and where to find them

on 25 August 2016

Everyone needs images.

For their website. For their social media profiles.

While unique imagery created yourself is great, it’s important to have really good quality images in your arsenal, so if you don’t know your f-stop from your bokeh (I’m sure that will get most of you running for a glossary), or you don’t have the budget for a photoshoot, you’re probably going to be trawling libraries for royalty free images.

So here are some my top go-to sites when I need to find free or reasonably priced photos and illustrations.


baby feet

Pixabay is the first site I go to as it has a wide range of images across lots and lots of different topics which are usually good quality. They also have illustrations and videos, and everything you find on their site is released under Creative Commons Zero (CC0) which means that you can use, modify and distribute the materials for free.



The Stocksnap collection isn’t as large as that on Pixabay and it often returns ‘no result’s on my searches, but it also has some cracking images. All photos are released under Creative Commons Zero (CC0) which means that you can use the photos for free – including for commercial purposes – without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or artist.



Splitshire is site used by many of the top influencers and publishing sites, such as Huffington Post, yet one that I don’t hear talked about much in the creative communitiies. The quality of these images is always good, and they’re all royalty free which means you can download them without any copyright issues. I love looking through their ‘top best photos’ for inspiration.


Unsplash imagery

I discovered Unsplash a few years back when they only had a few photos on, and were releasing 10 new high resolution images every 10 days. Now they have thousands and are always one of the places that I look for more unusual compositions.


girl-readingPicjumbo was founded by a photographer who was frustrated by the lack of quality on the stock image libraries that he was submitting images to. All the images are free for commercial use.

Negative Space

Negative Space

Negative Space provide some really great images without any copyright restrictions, and they add new images every week.

Jay Mantri


Jaymantri was inspired by Unsplash, and you can see definite similarities between the sites. Their images are all free to use under the CC0, and you can find some real gems in the collection.



You can subscribe to Snapwiresnaps to get 7 free photos every week. Their images are lovely, and in their words, you can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.


Canva free images

The amazing people at Canva have also put together their own resource list of 73 sites that you can look at to find your perfect image.

In summary

Where I used to spend a small fortune on imagery for my designs, I now have a reliable pool of terrific imagery to fall back on. Occasionally I’ll still purchase an image from the likes of PhotoDune, Shutterstock, Abode Stock or iStockPhoto, but more often than not, we can now create visual magic with the images which these terrific artists are making available to us for free.

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Vicky Etherington

Vicky Etherington has been running her own online marketing agency since 2003, and in 2016 transitioned to working with coaches and therapists to teach them how to create their own client-attracting websites using her proven signature program, The WordPress Success Bootcamp.

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