What’s a website without some great imagery? When it comes to deciding what photos will be used for your new website, there’s always that conundrum of trying to decide where the images will be coming from. We all want great photos, but sometimes you run into clients who either don’t want to pay for them or can’t afford them.
You may have your own reasons for needing high-quality photos, but one thing is very clear; If you’re grabbing pictures from other websites or from a Google image search, you are playing with fire. Did you know that there are law firms out there who specialize specifically in finding people who are using copyrighted photos without permission? It’s actually a very lucrative business because so many people just aren’t aware of the ramifications.
Fear no more, for we have collected a goldmine of royalty-free stock imagery. By using photos from any of the websites below, you can avoid the lawsuits and hefty fines.
Adding high-quality images to your blogs and website serve three key purposes:
Break up text and add visual appeal to keep visitors interested;
Build connections by illustrating pain points and the solutions you provide;
Boost SEO and improve your search engine rankings.
If you don’t have the budget to spend on iStock subscriptions and Getty images, and you don’t have the time or skill to take professional quality photos yourself to add to your site, don’t stress. We’re sharing the best sites for free stock photography that you’ll want to use for your website as well as some low-cost options that provide some additional benefits.
Table of Contents The Best Free Stock Photo Sites + a Few Low Budget Options
Pexels has hundreds of thousands of high-resolution, free stock photos, and while some are sourced from other free sites, they have a rapidly growing inventory of original, user-provided images. Pexels is incredibly user-friendly, and it’s easy to search and find what you need, plus there are curated collections of images so you can reduce the time you spend scrolling through search returns. While there are gorgeous artistic images, there’s also a huge inventory of high-quality real estate, business, and healthcare images and a diverse selection of people in a variety of settings.
Pixabay is known for having the largest selection of free images, illustrations, vectors, and stock videos. While their artistic images are growing as more people supply content, you’ll find they have a huge inventory of “functional” photos that work well for business website images. With a similar interface to Pexels, Pixabay is easy to navigate and find what you need, though you may want to check the Enable SafeSearch box before you begin browsing to avoid explicit material, including nudity and violence or graphic images.
Unsplash has become one of the most popular sites for free stock photos, and with good reason. They have over two million images from both professional and skilled amateur photographers, and they have an incredibly consistent quality and an easy to use interface. If you use your iPad to work on your website, you’ll also find their mobile app is a great tool.
StockSnap IO is similar to Pexels and Pixabay with high resolution images that are CCO licensed for commercial use. Though their library of images isn’t as large as the previous options, there are still tens of thousands of available options that are consistently high quality. There are some great nature settings as well as natural-looking “slice of life” photos.
The CDC offers the Public Health Image Library, which is a large collection of images related to health. This includes everyday activities like exercising and grocery shopping, childhood development, and public health in action, making this a great resource for healthcare websites, doctors, dentists, daycares, and similar services.
Gratisography is a collection of photos designed to be whimsical, bizarre, or surreal, and while they may not be right for every business or website, they can be great for certain brand types. While this collection is smaller, they’re all consistently high-quality, fun, and definitely eye-catching.
The Top 3 Low-Cost Stock Photography Sites
While there are literally millions of free stock photos available from the sites listed above, if they don’t have exactly what you need, or you want to include editing options, music, and videos, you may find that a small subscription fee is worth the versatility.
PIkWizard has thousands of consistently high-quality images, and one of the things we like the most is that they have a vast selection of natural-looking photos of a variety of subjects. Unlike some of the clearly staged stock photos of people in meetings or having lunch, Pikwizard feels more natural. Plus, they have a fantastic selection of city images to choose from.
While their image downloads are free, their image editor, Design Wizard, does require a low-cost basic plan that allows you to take their images and customize them.
Perfect for creating your own images, graphics, and designs for use on your website, printed materials, and social media, Canva is a popular DIY graphic design site for beginners. They also have a selection of stock photos, vectors, and illustrations available for free, but upgrading to Canva Pro for a small monthly fee unlocks access to 75 million premium photos, videos, and other elements, plus thousands of fonts, templates, and design features.
Storyblocks is an affordable subscription service for stock media, including images, illustrations, and vector graphics as well as videos and music. A subscription includes unlimited downloads of HD and 4k footage, music and sound effects, plus their video editor as well as unlimited images. They also have a free plan that’s great for testing out the site and seeing if it’s worth the upgrade.
Making the Most of Your Website with High Quality Free Stock Photos
Both the quality and volume of free stock photos has seen massive improvements in the last few years, so you have incredible options when it comes to adding images to your website.