Stock images are a great way to get professional photos on a budget. You can purchase print-quality images from sites like Shutterstock, but if you’re looking to cut costs, there are plenty of photographers who donate pictures for commercial use.
When working with free stock photos, keep in mind that some require attribution and need to be at least 300dpi.
To help you create stunning printed products on a budget, here are some of our favorite sites that provide high quality images for free.
Free High-Resolution Stock Photos
123RF is a popular stock photo site that sells photos at low cost, but they also have a library of free images available for members. Membership is free, and attribution for unpaid photos are required.
Albumarium arranges their stock images by albums. Their search feature allows you to filter by license. Lots of original photos you can’t find anywhere else.
Bigfoto emphasizes where photos are taken. You can choose photos by geography or category. Not a huge selection, but you definitely won’t see these photos anywhere else. Great destination photos of a variety of places worldwide.
If you’re looking for images aside from the typical landscape or abstract lighting, check out Burst’s collections of photos in categories like fitness, yoga and portrait photography. All these stock photos are provided completely free from Shopify (the creators of Burst) with no attribution required.
Not much to look at, but man is Compfight fast! Search for images on Flickr and get both paid and free results. Filter by license type. Lots of ads, so be careful where you click. Regardless of all the ads, there are tons of photos available on this Flickr search engine.
It’s rumored that free stock photo sites were started by photographers who wanted to donate unused project photos. Cupcake, like a few others on this list, was started by photographer Jonas Wimmerström. It contains mostly landscape photos and food. All photos free for commercial use without attribution.
Death to the Stock Photo
Death to the Stock Photo is on a mission to combat boring stock photography. Instead of downloading photos from the website, join to get a monthly photo pack via email. Some older projects are available in their graveyard for downloading.
If you’re concerned about originality, this small stock photo collection from DesignersPics includes some great original food photography. All photos are free for commercial use and attribution to photographer Jeshu John is requested but not required.
A popular paid stock photo site, dreamstime includes a large collection of free photos. Attribution is required.
Photographer Daria, who is also a designer and startup coach, provides a small collection of free stock photos for commercial use. An interesting mix of aerial photos, closeups and startup culture.
Find a Photo
Search over 10,000 CC photos that require no attribution. The cool thing about Find a Photo is that you can search by color, so you can find just the right photo for your design.
Restaurants and markets will appreciate the mouth-watering collection of food photos available in Foodiesfeed. Your perfect flat lay of red foods is waiting. Each photo includes info on the full-resolution size and license type on the download page.
Search engine Foter lets you scour through over 330 million free stock photos. Download in three different sizes and you must provide attribution to Foter on your printed project. For matching branding, download the WordPress plugin and use the same photos on your print and digital projects.
Free Images provides a wide variety of free and paid images. When downloading free images, check the resolution since it’s not listed on the site. Also, license info isn’t showing, so it’s better to provide attribution.
Free Nature Stock
There’s something about nature that makes humans emotional. According to experts like Daniel Leemon, that emotional connection is stronger than good customer service. This site provides nature stock photos by photographer Adrian Pelletier. It’s updated daily, and no attribution is required.
Freerange provides Equalicense images for commercial use, no attribution required.
Some images use a CC license. If you want to alter your stock photos, you can send images to Pixlr for editing.
Free Stock Image Point
Great site for landscape and worldwide destination photos, especially in Bali. This small collection of completely free images requires no membership, but you can get images emailed to you by subscribing.
If you’re looking for print projects that turn heads, check out photographer Ryan McGuire’s outrageous stock photo page Gratisography. Edgy shots of people with exaggerated features, and interesting situations. If you’re looking for that perfect shot of a monkey fighting a banana, you’ll find it here. Attribution not required and commercial use allowed.
Over 100 pages of free stock photos ranging from dentistry tools to landscapes. ISO Republic photos are not seen anywhere else, and all appear to be very high quality, with great use of filters and some edgy shots.
Download over a million stock photos, illustrations or vector images at no charge at Pixabay. Some images require attribution; check the image before downloading. High-resolution and commercial images are available. Many popular stock photo sites like Unsplash and Pexels have accounts on Pixabay.
All images on Pexels are licensed under the Creative Commons CC0 license, meaning you can use them for commercial purposes without attribution. The quality varies greatly, but check the leaderboard for the best images.
A very small collection of high quality CC photos. Check the license for rules on modification, commercial use and attribution. Some of the best animal stock photos we’ve seen on pliXS.
Free high-resolution photos that don’t require attribution. The site uses two different licenses, both allow you to use the stock photos in commercial projects without attribution. Check out Stokpic favorites section for some great beach scenes, food shots, and people.
With new images posted daily, Unsplash is one of the oldest and most popular free stock photo sites on the web. All images are available free for commercial use, and you can do what you want with them. No attribution required.
Though it doesn’t look like much, Wylio is a powerful site that allows you to search over a million Creative Commons-licensed photos. Since there are many types of Creative Commons licenses, attribution may be required and some photos may not be allowed to use in commercial projects.
Time to Get Moving on That Print Project!
If budget is a concern for your company marketing (and given today’s climate, whose isn’t?), check out some of these sites with free stock photos for commercial use. You’ll save a ton of money over traditional paid sites, making it easy to get a great return on your printing investment.
While purchasing printed products online is easier than ever with our store, if you’re still nervous about creating your own project, contact our design department. We’ll be happy to help you create your next masterpiece.
Also published on Medium.