Photography is an essential part of any design and finding the right commercial-use photos for free can be a challenge. Sure, you could find the standard stock photos of a person sitting in front of a computer or business professionals smiling in a conference room, but those images are melodramatic and old-fashioned. To stand out from the competition and create a website that really pops, you need stock photos that are unique and creative while complimenting your brand’s message.
You could purchase high-quality commercial-use images from many sources but if you are using many photos, it can get pricey, and you could find yourself spending as much as $20 for a single image! Fortunately, there are many great websites that offer incredible stock photos that are both free and available for commercial use.
Free Stock Images for Commercial Use
We have compiled a list of the top stock image websites so you can search multiple sources to find the right photos for your business. Each site is labeled as having a Creative Commons Zero license or similar which allows for free commercial use and modification. While these websites are transparent about their licensing, we still recommend making your own research to 100% know for sure that you are repurposing images and using others’ artistic work in an ethical and respectful manner.
Pexels is often our first choice when searching for a free professional photo for our business. The photographers that provide images for this site are unique and incredibly talented – publishing photos that are far from your standard stock photos. All the images are free to use and modification to the originals is allowed. While giving credit to their photographers is encouraged, attribution is not necessary.
Unsplash is another popular free stock image website as it holds one of the largest selections of photos. Every image o the website is free for commercial and non-commercial purposes and includes the ability to modify, copy, and distribute in a non-competing manner. This stock image website is great for general-purpose images and is a great place to start when looking to browse many different photos in any category to view multiple options.
Pixabay is another excellent choice for free commercial-use photos as it provides one of the largest stock image libraries we have come across. We like this website for the mixture of both photos and illustrations. When it comes to images in the business or marketing industry, Pixabay has a vast selection to choose from. While it has such a large selection, we personally feel that this stock image site has an overabundance of the “standard mundane stock images”.
FreePik has a larges selection of graphics, photos, and illustrations. They even have a wide selection of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator files so you can easily modify files through your favorite graphic design program. This makes FreePik one of the best choices for a selection of graphics as well as stock photos. They offer a premium subscription for $11.99/month which gives even more options, although, the freemium selection is quite extensive. They also own a sister company, Flaticon, which is one of the best choices for custom icons and icon packs.
5. Life of Pix
This stock photography website holds high-resolution photos that are artsy and unique. You will not find mundane and standard photos here. Life of Pix promotes and showcases 10 new photographers each week and chooses one as the “photographer of the week”. This neat feature allows a user to explore new photographers each week and follow them if they have provided the desired style.
Canva is a popular online graphic design tool that allows users to easily create and modify new designs with ease. They also offer a wide variety of stock images that are free for both commercial and non-commercial use. They use images from both Pixabay and Pexels as well as various other sources, making it another great choice for searching for the right stock image.
StockSnap is all about free commercial-use photos that are far from ordinary. They offer a convenient way to browse photos by category and feature a trending section to offer up some inspiration for your next design. If you want imagery that is not familiar, StockSnap is a great choice.
KaboomPics is another stock image site offering free photos for commercial and non-commercial purposes. Rather than set aside photos by category, they offer a way to sort through images by specific photoshoots.
Gratisography is another lesser-known stock image website that takes the approach of providing whimsical and fun stock images that are free for commercial use. First impressions of the homepage compliment this message and they even have a section for comical and unusual vector art for graphic design projects. If your design project calls for a unique taste of fun, then Gratisography would be the right place to begin your stock image search.
123RF is another stock image website that is quickly becoming one of the best in the industry for royalty-free images. They have millions of high quality free commercial and personal use images in their library which includes anything from vectors, 3D illustrations, to unique photography. As one of the fastest-growing digital stock agencies, they bring in over 10,000 unique files each month with more plans for metaverse-ready content coming soon.
The stock image library is extremely straight-forward with a great built-in search engine and includes the ability for users to organize their favorite images into personal collections.
This stock image website offers original photos that have been handpicked to be featured in their archives – meaning they are likely to be unique compared to some of the more popular stock image sites. This is a great spot to explore photos from lesser-known artists while still providing the same high-resolution quality from other image websites.
Burst is the free stock image website run by the popular eCommerce platform, Shopify. They are yet another platform offering both personal and commercial use photos for free and have everything from the standard stock backgrounds to elaborate and unique images. They offer both high-resolution and low-resolution photos and you do not need a Shopify store or account to download free images.
PikWizard offers free stock photos for commercial and personal use. They also have a neat feature of having an online text editor that can quickly add words over any image that you come across on the website. This allows you to create neat design banners and social media graphics at a moment’s notice without the need to use a more complex editor like Canva. A free account is required to access the text editor.
PicJumbo offers a decent selection of free photos for commercial use and gives the opportunity to search for images by a specific category. They also have a premium membership that allows you to search through exclusive photos that have never been published online. While the monthly membership might be a bit pricey at $49/month, you can get a lifetime membership for just a one-time fee of $249. Although they have a paid membership, the freemium membership holds a good amount of original photos and is a great place to begin.
15. FreeRange Stock
Freerange is another stock image website that should be included in your online image “toolbox”. While they have a great library of photos, perhaps the most interesting aspect is their selection of background images. If you need a specific background image or texture that is high-quality, then Freerange might be one of the best choices to check out.
Stock Image Websites for Commercial Use
There are many more websites that have wonderful free stock images for commercial use that may not have been included on this list. We simply wanted to compile our favorites and what we thought were some of the best names out there to browse for free stock photos. If there is a specific stock image website you feel should be an essential part of this list, feel free to let us know in the comments below!