Where To Find the Best Free Stock Photo Websites

Eric Renfro | 27.02.19 | 0 Comments

Visuals constitute a big part of a website’s appeal. A web page without appealing photos or graphics stands little chance of retaining visitors or getting them to read the text, click on links or buy the products.

But, how do you procure those visuals? The ideal way is to use your own original imagery. However, this can turn out to be very expensive and time-consuming if you want your photos to be high resolution, professionally taken and right on topic. Additionally, even with your own images, you’ll need model release forms and there may even be restrictions on using pictures of certain landmarks or trademarked products.

Another option is to use high-resolution stock images. But buying them on websites like Shutterstock, BigStockPhoto, 123RF or DreamsTime may involve significant cost. Luckily, almost all of the top website builders we’ve reviewed offer free stock photos. For example, Wix offers thousands of gorgeous images that you can add to your Wix website. Site123 likewise provides a gallery of pictures that are free to use on your Site123-made website. Using the free images made available by your website builder is a great, budget-friendly way to make your website more eye-catching.

If your website builder doesn’t cover your needs and you don’t want to spend money on images, there are also quite a few good outlets where you can find free images for your website. We share some of these favorite free stock photo websites below!

7 Free Stock Photo Sites

1. Wikimedia Commons

This is a well-known resource of free pictures many website owners use. The website is searchable and easy to use. There are different file sizes available. One word of caution, though: read the attribution and license terms for each image you download. Some photos are public domain, which means no attribution is required. Some cannot be used in commercial purposes, but you can freely insert them in your blog. Visit Wikimedia Commons.

2. Public Domain Archive

A project initiated by an enthusiast graphic designer and photographer from Athens, the Public Domain Archive is a repository of free stock photos, all in high resolution. The free stock photo website has an internal search feature, but this is not accessible from the home page. Once you get to one of the pages, you will see it in the right-hand sidebar, where you can also find a list of categories, in case you find it easier to browse the pictures this way. Visit Public Domain Archive.

3. Pixabay

Here you will find a huge collection of free stock photos, vectors, illustrations and videos, all released under public domain license. Just enter your keywords and search for the visual you need to create a more appealing website. Visit Pixabay.

4. PicJumbo

Offering high-quality images free of charge, PicJumbo is more than a webmaster can wish for. The free stock photo website’s database is refreshed every month, and they also offer a premium option if you want to download all the photos they have at once. Visit PicJumbo.

5. Unsplash

This is the best resource around for high-resolution landscape photos. Moreover, ten new photos are added every day to the already large gallery of over 550,000 images. Unsplash has a convenient search feature to find your free high-resolution photos. Visit Unsplash.

6. New Old Stock

Difficult to find historical photos? Not if you have the right address! This site is unique among other free stock photo websites. Since there is no search option, you will have to scroll down to see the images, but it’s well worth the effort. Visit New Old Stock.

7. Pexels

Pexels is another site where you can get free stock images. In addition to finding all sorts of amazing photos here, if you’re camera-savvy, you can also participate in their challenges and win prizes! This encourages photographers to submit more photos for different themes. Prizes have included such things as iPads, being featured in a gallery, cash,  cameras, photo editing software, and more! Visit Pexels.

Are Free Stock Images Legal?

free stock photo websites

That’s a great question. You do need to be careful when downloading free stock images. Laws for downloading and using these images can vary from country to country. Additionally, you’ll find that many of these free stock photo websites include disclaimers releasing them from liability should you get in trouble from using one of their images. Free stock photo websites typically allow anyone to upload pictures to them, and someone could contribute a copyrighted image that you’ll then get in trouble for when you use it on your personal website.

If there are people pictured in the image, they generally need to have signed a model release form. Photos from within places that charge a fee for entry usually cannot be shared for free. Even famous landmarks sometimes fall under the laws of copyright. For example, you cannot legally publish a photo of the Eiffel Tower at night due to a copyright on the light installation. Images of the Boston Public Library are not allowed to be shared for commercial use. Certain products, such as shoes with a red sole contrasting against another color are not allowed for commercial use because it is the signature style of Louboutin shoes.

You should also note that there is often a stipulation between commercial use and editorial use. Editorial images can contain trademarks, people, and brands. Usually, to claim editorial usage, you can only use these images for news stories and may still require that you credit the photo. Being able to claim editorial usage is pretty restricted, so you probably want to avoid this unless you are actually a newspaper. Commercial usage, on the other hand, allows you to use the stock images for anything having to do with your company that can lead to profiting.


More than likely, if you’ve taken advantage of using a website builder like the types of site builders compared here, and you already have access to a vast range of images that you can freely use. If you’re searching for other options, keep this list handy. Just make sure that you fully research the legality of those images offered on free stock photo websites before you use them!


This article was originally published on January 12, 2016. Its content has since been updated. 

Eric Renfro

Eric is a master when it comes to web development. With seven years of experience, Eric has successfully assisted numerous well-known companies and individuals create and develop their desired websites. He is a contributing writer to the Top 5 Website Builders blog.

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