Free Stock Photography Websites
Updated: Jan 16, 2022
Stock photography is a nonprofit's best friend. First, it is free. Second, it is easy to access and use. Third, it can support a story, draw attention, and leave a stronger impression than text alone. 'Stock photography' is a term used to describe photographs that can be purchased for use in branding, direct mail, social media, in newsletters, and on websites.
Go straight to websites These websites are an incredible resource because they is easy, free, and high quality. When you don't have the time or resources to take your own photographs, stock photography can easily fill that gap.
If you're using stock photography, there are a few things you need to know, as well as a few things that are just good to know:
ATTRIBUTION/LICENSES Before you download an image, be sure to read the exact terms and conditions of its use. While all of the stock photography websites I mention below allow fully free use with no attribution, not every stock photography site is that way. Attribution is when you have to give credit to the creator, either through a link, tag, or mention on your company page or social media.
ALTERING PHOTOGRAPHS The trick to using stock photography is making it look like it isn't stock photography. If you use the photographs as they are, you risk looking generic and inauthentic. Here are a few tips on avoiding that trap: - Adjust: Increase the contrast, remove saturation, add a filter. Using the same filters on all of your stock photography can help create visual cohesion. - Shape: Turn a horizontal photograph into a circle, square, rhombus, or any other shape that aligns with your brand. - Add: Jazz it up with your own design assets, icons, repeating patterns, text, and colours that represent your organization.
ROYALTY FREE Some of the best stock photography (that doesn't look like stock photography) is paid. I am personally happy paying a creator to use their image, especially if it elevates my campaign or project, but I know that not everyone has the budget for it. If you're running a specific campaign and will be using the same images again and again, consider purchasing royalty free photographs (one time purchase, but can be used again and again without incurring additional costs).
This is my go to website for stock photography. While Pxhere.com doesn't have a huge selection, every single image is attribution free which takes all of the guess work out of stock photography. As their website states:
"It's hard to understand complex licenses that is why all photos on PxHere are licensed
under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. This means the pictures are
completely free to be used for any legal purpose.The pictures are free for personal and
even for commercial use."
If you're looking for selection, Pixabay.com is where its at. They have an amazing selection of stock photography that is often less generic than Pxhere. In addition, they also have music, illustrations, and stock video for whatever it is you're working on. As their website explains: Our license empowers creators and protects our community. All content (e.g. images, videos, music) on Pixabay can be used for free for commercial and noncommercial use
across print and digital, except in the cases mentioned in "What is not allowed".
Attribution is not required. Giving credit to the artist or Pixabay is not necessary but is
always appreciated by our community.
Unsplash.com is a great resource. They have a wide variety of images and are completely free. As their website states:
All photos can be downloaded and used for free
Commercial and non-commercial purposes
No permission needed (though attribution is appreciated!)
At this point you're probably seeing a pattern in the names of these websites. Pexels.com is a great resource that I often use for stock video. Just like the other three on this list, these images are completely free to use:
All photos and videos on Pexels are free to use.
Attribution is not required. Giving credit to the photographer or Pexels is not necessary but always appreciated.
You can modify the photos and videos from Pexels. Be creative and edit them as you like.
Stocksnap.io doesn't have a wide variety of images, but sometimes I find gems on this site.
"They're free to download, free to edit, and free to use - even in a commercial project!
You don't even need to attribute the image to the creator, the way you do with other CC
or traditional copyright licensing schemes. (However, even though it's not required, we
here at StockSnap do encourage you to include an appropriate attribution. It's a nice
thing to do.)"