Free, Searchable Stock Photos

As a small business working on developing your web presence, you might find it daunting to figure out where you can find free images that are high quality.  You most likely don’t have access to a photographer, nor is it in your budget to hire one, and you’re probably not an expert in intellectual property laws.  What images do you have permission to use? Can you use those images commercially? Do you have to list the site where you found the images and credit the photographer?

When it comes to finding pictures that you can use on your website, in your email program, or on your blog and social media pages, here are five suggestions for sites that can get you started:

1.  Pixabay

Pixabay is a favourite among designers and businesses looking for a free, searchable database for finding photos that are free to use and don’t require any attribution.

The site features a wide range of images, including many high quality photos that are comparable to those for which you’d pay top dollar.  You can browse by category, which is helpful if you don’t have a specific idea in mind and need inspiration, or you can browse by keyword.  When you’ve entered a search term, the site takes on many familiar features that anyone who has used a search engine will find easy to use.

Keep in mind that the first line of results in any search on this site is often photos that you’ll have to pay to use.  You may find that some of the suggestions are worth the price, but if you’re looking for truly free, you should scroll past that first line.

Downloading a photo from Pixabay is as easy as clicking the Download button, confirming you’re not a robot, and the photo is yours to use.    

2.  Picjumbo

Picjumbo features options to search for the newest photos, most popular photos, or by category.  If you’ve already got an idea in mind, you can use the search feature to find photos that fit your needs.  Like Pixabay, Picjumbo doesn’t ask that you attribute photos to them at all, making the process user-friendly even for the most inexperienced consumer.

If you find the photo you want to use on Picjumbo, the process is as simple as clicking the Download button and following any further instructions that pop up.

3.  StockSnap

StockSnap is great for someone looking for more than just a photo, as it offers download statistics which allow you to see which photos are popular and which are used less often.  You don’t have to register to download, and there is no obligation to credit the site after choosing one of their photos, making it very easy to use.

Like the sites listed above, downloading a photo from this site is as simple as clicking the Download button.  The picture will automatically download to your computer and will be yours to use commercially.

4.  Kaboompics

Kaboompics offers free photo options and is a great place to go if you’re looking for photos that are a bit more abstract. When you’ve found a photo you like, it’s exceptionally easy to download—you simply click the button and begin working with the photo you’ve chosen.  Kaboompics asks that you credit the site when you use a photo, which is an easy step but one that can seem daunting if you’re not familiar with the concept.  Kaboompics offers a very easy to follow “Terms” page that explains how you can credit their site.

5.  RGB Stock

This site requires you to register before downloading, but registration is free and you can use a social media account to save time.  The site is searchable, but also offers browsing options for someone looking for inspiration or starting from scratch.  If you’re looking for a community, RGB offers a forum that will allow you to connect with others, meaning this site is great for a range of user types.

While most of the photos you’ll find on the above sites are free to use commercially, you’ll find it’s worth the few seconds it’ll take to double check licensing.  You want to find photos that are free to use commercially, and if you’re looking to edit photos, be sure that that’s allowed as well.  The sites listed above are easy to use, and these sites will usually be very clear about what you are and aren’t allowed to do with the results of your photo search.