In this overwhelmingly visual world, we all find ourselves in the need of images from time to time. Be it to illustrate a text article, blog post, to inspire us for art projects or to use as reference, the need will inevitably come, even if you don't work as a writer or illustrator.
However, most of us don't have a budget set aside for it and don't work in a company with corporate subscriptions to stock image sites. Thankfully, the web has been populated with great free stock images sites for a few years now. So here I'll save you some precious search time and tell you what some of the best of those sites are. (Click on the titles to go to the sites.
Pixabay has been growing and growing non-stop and is now one of the largest websites with free stock photos, illustrations, vector graphics and videos out there. They have over 1.5 million assets for you to use, not only for free, but also with a CC0 license, which is Public Domain. This means that they are copyright free and can be used as freely as they come, even without attribution and commercially if need be. There is great variety and there are many great quality images. I think you can't beat that. This is as good as it gets.
This one has been around for ages and it has come a long way. Morguefile is a free photo archive “for creatives, by creatives.” Founded in the early Internet days of 1996, the site was created to serve as a free image exchange for creative professionals and teachers to use in their work. All photos found in the Morguefile archive are free to download and re-use in your work, be it commercial or not. The photos have been contributed by a wide range of creatives from around the world, ranging from amateur photo hobbyists to professionals. They have over 350.000 photos and have an interesting feature: the image quest. There are assignments for photographers to find certain things in a challenge format. So even if you don't find what you're looking for, you can create a Quest for others to help you.
Another great site with CC0 licensed images (just photos in this case, no vectors or videos), with a wonderful selection of very beautiful images. You can view them by category, or search and sort by views, number of downloads or number of favorites. Not much more to say about this one, except every image I see here seems to be of great quality.
With over 550.000 free images available, this is one of the most talked about sites lately. They have their own license, but as the rest of the sites, the images are free to use for personal and commercial use, even without credit. They just protect themselves against someone downloading all their images and opening a competing website. You can browse collections made by other users or make your own to come back later to. Besides the typical, there are photos here that are very unique, so you might want to try them when you need things other than the obvious editorial needs. There's also a section for images made with their stock, which is very inspiring.
This is another one that has grown into a big, beautiful monster in the last couple of years. They have their own license, allowing free use, even commercially and without attribution requirements. They have created an interesting community with challenges for photographers with prizes to be won! And the results are stunning.
Collections are also available, as well as something not seen in many of these free sites: browse by color.
Last but not least, here's a newcomer. They have over 100,000 free images on the site, with over 20,000 of those exclusive to them. They are also adding new images to their library daily and their ultimate goal is to get to more than 1 million images. They have a lot of pictures of people, which tend to be relatively rare in free stock photo sites. I suggest you bookmark this one. They'll get bigger like some of the others did. All their images are free to use without attribution.
So there you have it. With all these resources at your disposal, I'm sure you'll find what you need for a specific project or a new source of inspiration. Enjoy!
Barbara Din is a visual artist, graphic designer, painter, interior designer, crafter, musician and writer living in Argentina. Learn more about Barbara and her work at the following links:
Barbara Din Patreon page
Barbara Din YouTube Channel