17 Sites with High-Quality, Royalty-Free Stock Photos (2021)

It’s not difficult to find sites with free stock photos these days. A quick Google search will yield so many results, your head will spin.

No, the real challenge is finding sites with the right photos.

By that we mean interesting, high-quality stock images that’ll make your blog or freelance project shine.

It’s also difficult to find sites with simple licensing agreements that clearly lay out what you can and can’t do with an image.

Or at least, it was difficult.

We’ve put together a list of the 17 best sites for high-quality, royalty-free stock images. It’ll be the go-to resource you can bookmark and reference over and over.

But enough talk. Let’s dive in.

1. Gratisography

Gratisography is a free stock photo site created by Ryan McGuire, founder of the graphic design firm Bells Design.

free stock photos big head
Photo by Ryan McGuire on Gratisography

While they don’t have the image volume of some stock photo sites, they do have a unique angle that makes their photos stand out — their photos are less stocky and more comedic than other sites.

Or as Gratisography describes it: “Truly unique. Usually whimsy. And always free.”

New pictures are added weekly.

Free Stock Photos? What’s the Catch?

All Gratisography images are licensed under CC0.

Allowed:

  • Images can be used for commercial and non-commercial projects.
  • You can edit photos to your liking.
  • You can sell products with the images on them.

Not Allowed:

  • Identifiable people in the images may not be portrayed in a bad or offensive way.
  • Don’t use images for unlawful, defamatory, hateful, or immoral purposes.
  • Don’t imply endorsement of your product by the people in the images or Gratisography.
  • You can’t redistribute or sell photos on other stock photo sites.

How to Navigate Gratisography’s Website

stock photo sites gratisography layout

2. Pexels

Pexels has a huge collection of free stock photos and videos. They have one of the easiest to navigate curated collections of any stock photo site.

free stock photos astronaut
Photo by Murat Esibatir on Pexels

Pexels’ Leaderboard page shares their most viewed photos of the last 30 days, making it easier to find popular images.

They also have a great blog and social media presence where they share tips on photography and curated work from their best contributors.

High-Quality Images for Free? What’s the Catch?

All Pexels images, including those aggregated from sites like Gratisography and Little Visuals, are licensed under CC0.

Allowed:

  • Photos & videos are free to use, no attribution required.
  • You can edit photos and videos as you like.

Not Allowed:

  • Identifiable people in the images may not be portrayed in a bad or offensive way.
  • Don’t sell unaltered photos, on products or otherwise, without first modifying it.
  • Don’t imply endorsement of your product by the people in the images.
  • The use of Pexels content in any political context is forbidden.
  • Don’t redistribute or sell photos on other stock photo sites.

How to Navigate Pexels’ Website

stock photo sites pexels layout

3. Pixabay

Pixabay stands out among stock photo sites because of their extensive image library. They have over 1.8 million high-quality photos, vectors, and illustrations.

free stock photos street view
Photo by Juergen Polle on Pixabay

While they have all types of content, they cater especially to marketers and entrepreneurs and their images tend to be business and marketing oriented.

Their visually striking & captivating images are great for grabbing the attention of readers and customers.

Free Images? What’s the Catch?

All Pixabay images are licensed under CC0.

Allowed:

  • All content can be used for commercial and non-commercial purposes, no attribution required.
  • Content can be modified as you like.

Not Allowed:

  • Don’t redistribute or sell images on other platforms.
  • You can’t sell unaltered copies of images.
  • Don’t portray identifiable people in a negative way.
  • Don’t imply a misleading association between people/brands featured in the images and your product.

How to Navigate Pixabay’s Website

stock photo sites pixabay layout

4. Unsplash

Unsplash began as a Tumblr blog in 2013, but now has one of the largest stock photo libraries online.

free stock photos woman jogging 1
Photo by Robert V. Ruggiero on Unsplash

They boast over 2 million available images from over 200,000 contributors. And they add 10 new photos every 10 days.

Their library is well-curated and easy to search, so finding the right image won’t be difficult.

They also have a “Made With Unsplash” page dedicated to sharing projects created with Unsplash images, in case you need some inspiration.

Royalty-Free Images? What’s the Catch?

All Unsplash images are licensed under CC0.

Allowed:

  • You can use the images for commercial and non-commercial purposes, no attribution required.
  • You may modify the images as you like.

Not Allowed:

  • Images can’t be sold without significant modification.
  • Don’t redistribute or sell images on other platforms

How to Navigate Unsplash’s Website

stock photo sites unsplash layout

5. Burst

Burst is a stock photo site owned by Shopify that caters to e-commerce brands and entrepreneurs seeking photos for commercial use.

free stock photo city on river
Photo by Bruno Passos on Burst

Their images are curated by industry and other easily navigable categories, like Products, Retail, and Fashion.

But they provide their target market with even more value beyond just images. They share great tutorials on how to use their images in marketing campaigns (i.e. Facebook Ads, product photos, online videos, etc.) And they have a “Business Ideas” page that shares case studies of online businesses created by their users.

Free Stock Images? What’s the Catch?

Some Burst images are released under CC0, while others fall under Shopify’s photo license.

Allowed:

  • You can use the images for commercial and non-commercial purposes, no attribution required.
  • You may modify the images as you like.

Not Allowed:

  • Photos may not be used for unlawful or immoral purposes.
  • Photos may not be used in a way that embarrasses or damages the reputation of identifiable people in the photo.
  • May not use photos to imply endorsement of your product.
  • You may not offer Shopify licensed photos for sale in any way.
  • May not sell or compile photos for a competing stock photo service

How to Navigate Burst’s Website

stock photo sites burst layout

6. StockSnap.io

StockSnap.io has a large selection of easily searchable stock photos. And they add hundreds of new images every week.

free stock photo woman posing
Photo by Matt Moloney on StockSnap

One thing that immediately stands out about their images is how bright and energetic they tend to be.

Categories include business, beach, city, food, fashion, work, health, and more.

Check out their “Trending” page to find their most popular images.

Free High-Resolution Images? What’s the Catch?

All StockSnap images are licensed under CC0.

Allowed:

  • You can use the images for commercial and non-commercial purposes, no attribution required.
  • You can modify images as you like.

Not Allowed:

  • May not use images to imply endorsement of company, product, or service.

How to Navigate StockSnap’s Website

stock photo sites stocksnap layout

7. Kaboompics

Kaboompics is a stock photo site created by Karolina Grabowska.

free stock photos holding seashells
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Kaboompics

One of my favorite things about this site is that each image comes with a feature that shows the dominant color palette in the image. making it easier for you to create a complementary color palette when altering them.

The images are organized by photo shoot, so if you search a keyword you can often get the same photo from different angles. You can filter searches by image orientation and dominant color palette.

Free Stock Photos? What’s the Catch?

Photos released under Kaboompics License.

Allowed:

  • Photos can be used for commercial and non-commercial purposes, without attribution.
  • Photos can be edited and modified.

Not Allowed:

  • Don’t portray identifiable people in a negative or offensive way.
  • Don’t sell unaltered photos or products featuring unaltered photos.
  • You can’t redistribute or sell photos on other stock photo sites.

How to Navigate Kaboompics’ Website

stock photo sites kaboompics layout

8. Life of Pix

Life of Pix doesn’t have the volume of some other stock photo sites. But their photos and videos, donated to the public domain by the Leeroy Advertising Agency, are unique and cool.

free stock photos city view
Photo by Sailoralex on Life of Pix

They have one of the best search tools of any site on this list. The easy-to-use functionality allows you to filter searches by category, color, and orientation.

And they highlight top photographers, making it easier to discover fantastic new artists.

High-Quality Photos for Free? What’s the Catch?

All Life of Pix images are licensed under CC0.

Allowed:

  • Photos can be used for commercial and non-commercial purposes, no attribution required.
  • Photos can be edited and modified as you like.

Not Allowed:

  • Mass redistribution of photos is forbidden.

How to Navigate Life Of Pix’s Website

stock photo sites life of pix layout

9. New Old Stock

New Old Stock is definitely a niche stock photo site. But if you need vintage photos for a project, this is the place to go.

free stock photo vintage city street
Photo courtesy of Powerhouse Museum Collection on New Old Stock

They share old, vintage photographs — curated from Flickr — that are free of copyright restrictions.

Their photos come from people and organizations who’ve agreed to share the photos based on the rules of Flickr Commons.

Free Vintage Photos? What’s the Catch?

All photos are available in the public domain based on the institution’s participation in Flickr Commons.

Allowed:

  • Commercial and non-commercial use
  • Some institutions require a link back to their original Flickr post.

Not Allowed:

  • Each image comes with it’s own unique set of restrictions. Check before using.

How to Navigate New Stock Photos’ Website

The layout for New Stock Photos is different from the others on this list. Like Jay Mantri and a few other stock photo sites we didn’t include, New Stock Photos’ site uses Tumblr.

Here’s how you use it:

Step 1: Click on the image title of the picture you’d like to download. This will take you to the Flickr page of the institution that shared the image. Link back to this page if you give attribution.

stock photo sites new old stock layout2

Step 2: Click on the download button to download the image. Be sure to check the licensing info to see if there are any requirements for using the image.

stock photo sites new old stock layout

10. Picjumbo

Picjumbo was created by a 26 year old Czech photographer named Viktor Hanacek.

free stock photos boats on pier
Photo by Viktor Hanacek on Picjumbo

It has a large library of stock photos and wallpapers, and caters to bloggers, designers, and entrepreneurs. Their collection of images spans many categories, including business, abstract, wallpapers, travel, nature, vintage, and more.

Most of their photos are free, but their paid premium membership gives you access to even more high-quality images.

You can also take advantage of their newsletter, blog, and design resources.

Free Images? What’s the Catch?

All Picjumbo images are licensed under CC0.

Allowed:

  • You can use the images for commercial and non-commercial purposes, no attribution required.
  • You may modify the images as you like.

Not Allowed:

  • No selling or redistributing photos.

How to Navigate Picjumbo’s Website

stock photo sites picjumbo layout

11. Reshot

Reshot is a photography community that aims to unify “creators via a free exchange of the world’s best visual content.”

free stock photos woman in water 1
Photo by Amelia Kovacs on Reshot

They have an extensive collection of “non-stocky” images. You can also download their “Photo Packs” of curated themed images.

With photographers all around the world contributing, they’re likely to have any unique photo you’ll need.

Royalty-Free Images? What’s the Catch?

All Reshot images are licensed under CC0.

Allowed:

  • You can use the images for commercial and non-commercial purposes, no attribution required.
  • You may modify the images as you like.

Not Allowed:

  • No selling or redistributing photos.

How to Navigate Reshot’s Website

stock photo sites reshot layout

12. Stockvault

If you’re looking for really high-quality images, then look no further than Stockvault.

free stock photo sunrise in woods
Photo by Yosafat on Stockvault

Stockvault offers over 138,000 stock photos, stock vectors, and HD and 4K stock footage submitted by creatives all around the world. Their image library spans more categories than just about any other stock photo site on the web.

The site also hosts a blog, free tutorials on everything from designing images to using photoshop, and other resources.

Free Stock Images? What’s the Catch?

Stockvault images are licensed under CC0, commercial, and non-commercial licenses. Check with each image before use.

Allowed:

  • You can use and modify all photos, without attribution.
  • Some photos can be used for commercial and non-commercial purposes.

Not Allowed:

  • Some images can’t be used for commercial purposes
  • You may not sell or license images without altering them.
  • You may not claim ownership of an image in its original state.

How to Navigate Stockvault’s Website

stock photo sites stockvault layout

13. Morguefile

Morguefile is a community where photo hobbyists and professionals share photos, videos, vectors, and templates for others to use in creative works.

free stock photos boats at sea
Photo by TheSuccess on Morguefile

Two features of the site really help Morguefile stand out:

One, they have an active community of creators who curate photos, regularly engage in creative discussions on the site, and share their knowledge of photography and design in Morguefile’s “Classroom.”

Two, their “Quest” feature. You can create a photo assignment (or Quest) for a specific theme or image you want. Anyone in their community of photographers can try to capture what you’re looking for and submit it on the site for you and others to use.

Free High-Resolution Images? What’s the Catch?

All Morguefile images are licensed under CC0.

Allowed:

  • You can use the images for commercial and non-commercial purposes, no attribution required.
  • You may modify the images as you like.

Not Allowed:

  • No selling, licensing, renting, or distributing images without first altering them.
  • You cannot claim ownership of an image in its original state.

How to Navigate Morguefile’s Website

stock photo sites morguefile layout

14. Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization dedicated to simplifying the licensing and sharing of creative and academic works. Creators can upload their works and choose a creative commons license that suits them. They’re behind the CC0 license that every site in this list uses for their photos.

free stock photo woman and sparks
Photo by DarkDay on Creative Commons

The licensing agreements on their site vary from image to image. But a description of how each image can and can’t be used is clearly laid out next to each photo.

What’s more, they have the best search features of any stock image site. You can filter searches by use (commercial or non-commercial), licensing, image size, image type, source, and more. So finding the right image for your needs is easy.

Free High-Resolution Images? What’s the Catch?

Creative Commons image licenses vary. Be sure to filter searches by your desired license agreement and check all images. All images require attribution.

How to Navigate Creative Commons’ Website

stock photo sites creative commons layout

15. Freestocks.org

Freestocks.org is a simple stock photo site containing a large selection of high-resolution images in a variety of categories, including animals, architecture, city, nature, fashion, and more.

free stock photos french bulldog
Photo by Joanna Malinowska on Freestocks

The site is run by 3 photographers who create all the images on the site.

While they may not have the largest selection of images, their photos are unique and very high-quality.

Free High-Resolution Images? What’s the Catch?

All Freestocks images are licensed under CC0.

Allowed:

  • You can use the images for commercial and non-commercial purposes, no attribution required.
  • You may modify the images as you like.

Not Allowed:

  • You cannot redistribute on other stock photo sites.

How to Navigate Freestocks’ Website

stock photo sites freestocks layout

16. Picspree

Picspree is a community of image creators who share their content for others to use.

free stock photos milk in glass
Photo by Alecsandro Andrade de Melo on Picspree

They have a large library of free images in a wide variety of categories. They also offer a premium membership program that grants access to a larger library of high-quality images.

The site also hosts articles and resources that you may find useful.

Free High-Resolution Images? What’s the Catch?

All Picspree images are licensed under CC0.

Allowed:

  • You can use the images for commercial and non-commercial purposes, no attribution required.
  • You may modify the images as you like.

Not Allowed:

  • Images cannot be resold in any way without first modifying them.

How to Navigate Picspree’s Website

stock photo sites picspree layout

17. Skitterphoto

Skitterphoto was created in 2014 by two photographers in the Netherlands. It’s since grown into a community where photographers around the world can upload and share their photos for others to use.

free stock photos long dock
Photo by Peter Heeling on Skitterphoto

Skitterphoto has a large selection of excellent images all in the public domain. And they have a cool feature that enables you to easily donate money to the authors from any image’s download page.

Free High-Resolution Images? What’s the Catch?

All Skitterphoto images are licensed under CC0.

Allowed:

  • You can use the images for commercial and non-commercial purposes, no attribution required.
  • You may modify the images as you like.

Not Allowed:

  • When using images, do not imply endorsement by the creator.

How to Navigate Skitterphoto’s Website

stock photo sites skitterphoto layout

Quick Note On Licensing Agreements

Licensing agreements determine how much control image creators have over how their images are used.

Most stock photography sites license their images under an agreement called Creative Commons Zero (CC0). It puts the images in the public domain, enabling you to use them in any project you like, however you like (with some small exceptions), and without giving the author credit.

Example: Here’s the CC0 license agreement for ISO Republic.

However, many sites also place some restrictions on how you use their images. For example, you may not be able to use a photo for immoral purposes (i.e. adult content, promoting drugs, etc.) or to imply endorsement of your business or product by the people in the image.

On some sites, the licensing agreement varies from image to image. While some images have no restrictions, others may be limited to non-commercial use or require that you give credit to the author.

And no matter what the licensing agreement is on the site or photo, you’re never allowed to use images that feature copyrighted brands, models, or properties unless given permission by the owner of the copyright. So, if a photo has a Nike logo in it, then you’ll need permission from Nike to use the image for any commercial purpose.

Bottom line?

Licensing agreements vary from site to site.

While we’ve provided a quick summary of each site’s licensing agreement, you should always double-check the agreement on each site and image before using it.

And, when in doubt, contact the site, photographer, or owner of any potentially copyrighted materials in an image for clarity.

Make Your Next Project Shine!

You don’t need to buy licenses for high-resolution photos from sites like Getty, Shutterstock, and Depositphotos to fill your blog posts and articles with great visuals.

That’s because the 17 free stock photo sites on this list will likely have all the pics you need.

Each site has simple licensing agreements that clearly lay out how you can use their images and what legal requirements you need to follow.

Before you go, be sure to bookmark this article for easy reference.

And the next time you need visual content, refer back to this list to find the perfect stock image that’ll make your project pop!

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