Skip to content

The 27+ Best Free Stock Photo Sites in 2019!

The 27+ Best Free Stock Photo Sites in 2019!

“Want free photos? Need free photos? Love free photos? Come and join us as we go through this megalith of a list of the best free stock photo sites dotted around the web plus a comprehensive guide for using free stock photos safely!

This is not your average free photo sites list. Oh, no. This is the very best and most awesome free stock photo sites list EVER. Because we thought of everything that matters in free stock photos sites… and that is not just how nice the images are!

Our team put free photo sites under the microscope, analysing the image quality, the licensing type, the background and the legal safety of each of them to pick only the ones worthy of our recommendation. But first, we address some very important matters about free stock photo websites, licensing terms and more.

Wanna jump right on to the list? Go ahead! But don’t forget to come back and have a good read at our guide to use free stock photos safely!

Free Stock Photo Websites and The Catch You Must Know About

As the expression goes, nothing beats free. This is as true for stock photography sites as it is for any other case. Website designers, graphic designers, marketing creatives, bloggers, visual artists, business owners, non-profit organizations… when they (and you) need high-resolution images but can’t pay for them, it’s only logical to try and get them for free. Even when you can afford paid royalty-free stock photos, it’s hard to resist a free deal. But the truth is the ways to get yourself some cool pictures without paying are more dangerous than you imagine, legally-wise, especially if you’re intending to use them in commercial endeavours.

Say No To Google-Found Photos

When looking for free photos online, the common man’s first thought would be a Google search. Mistake! Google is merely an aggregator that displays images available on the web, they do not own the copyright of any of them so they are in no power to grant you their use. Moreover, when you run a Google image search most of the first results are paid ads by pro stock photography sites, or otherwise photos under licenses forbidding free use. So this quick and dirty method for free photos can lead to all sorts of problems down the line, including possible litigation. You can read more about the tragedies that can occur in our article explaining 5 dangers of using Google Images without permission.

The Unsuspected Catch in Free Photo Download Websites

There are those that know that if it sounds too good to be true it normally is, and will resort to the first free stock photo download site that pops up on their screen. These are apparently harmless, as photos are licensed and everything in them screams they’re good to use.

And that’s the catch: appearance is one thing, the reality is another. Free photos from dedicated sites are certainly waived for free usage under a form of Creative Commons, Public Domain or similar license. But that is not enough to make them safe to use in commercial work. If no one checks the images’ legal background and there’s any irregularity… then guess what: you’ll be in trouble just as if you had right-click downloaded a photo from Google images.


An easy way to eliminate that risk right now? Go for cheap, professional Royalty-free stock images! In our Stock Photo Secrets Shop, you’ll find the friendliest prices for small and medium budgets in monthly and yearly plans as well as image packs, not to mention our unbeatable 99club deal!If you like options, you can check out our massive list of the Best Stock Photo Sites with 20 options in stock photo agencies! If you are ready to purchase – go check out our guide where to buy stock photos, but not before reviewing thetop 10 most downloaded images in 2018 from top stock photo agencies to help you know what kind of photos you should definitely buy! Check out our guide for the best medical stock photo agencies as well.

If you’ve never used stock photos before, make sure to read our beginners guide to Royalty-free stock photos from beginning to end! We also have several rebates and exclusive coupon codes like our Shutterstock coupon code or this iStock promo code here.

What is a Creative Commons License

Most websites offering free Royalty-Free stock photos work with Creative Commons (commonly represented by its stands, CC), a non-profit organization that developed various licensing agreements for intellectual property that allow artists –including photographers and graphic designers– to make their work available for others to use, free of charge, but with regulations.


Creative Commons licenses are legal contracts for which artists authorize the free use of their work under particular terms and end-users to agree to respect those terms.

There are six variants of Creative Commons license. Creative Commons Zero (CC0 for short) is one of the most popular and widely used by free stock photo websites because it’s the one with fewer copyright restrictions. The other CC contracts have various degrees of limitations. Some are only for non-commercial purposes, others require credit the artist and/or linking back to them in online uses, for example.

Despite restrictions or lack thereof, CC photos are basically Royalty-free images that come at no cost but you’re using them with permission from the owner.

The Latent Risk in CC License for Commercial Projects

We told you above that CC photos can still get you in trouble. The reason for that is very simple, but not so clear at first glance. If there’s a Creative Commons license agreement in place, that means you’ve been given the authorization to use the photos in your work… right? Well, not necessarily. And that’s the problem.


That’s the risk in Creative Commons license: you must be absolutely sure who submitted it is the legal owner, and that all models have released their likeness. Else you risk facing multiple legal and financial woes.

The license is only valid when the legal copyright owner grants it. Most free photo websites are middlemen who let users submit pictures and tend to run on the low-maintenance end, meaning they don’t police or verify submissions. Nothing stops random users uploading photos they don’t own, so you might very well end up with a photo which license is invalid.

There’s more. Every person is legally the owner of their own likeness. So photos depicting recognizable people must include a legal rights-waiving document (known as “model release”) where the persons portrayed agree to have their image used. This same principle applies to private property, which includes brands, logos, trademarked designs, and even some famous landmarks and buildings. Should the photo you chose not have these releases in place, you would be infringing on various people’s rights.


Once you use a photo, you’re legally responsible, so the legal status of a free use license is even more critical when you are using photos for commercial purposes. The fact you will potentially profit from said use deepens the degree of the offense and affected parties are more likely to pursue rectifications and compensation.

The Safest Stock Photo Sites for Business and Commercial Use


That got us all thinking: does this mean all of you who cannot afford paid –yet very economic– stock photos right now are left with only risky and risky as your only available options? Just how many good free sites are there out there on the internet? So after a bit of debate and a rallying of the troops, we went on the hunt for the safest free stock photo sites that work for not only personal use but that all-important commercial market too.

The following are our pick of 27 websites where you can find high quality, royalty-free, free stock photos that are relatively safe to use in commercial work. These photos would look great in website designs, banners, adverts, social media posts, blog posts, publications, and various projects for non-commercial purposes!

Most of them feed new photos into their libraries constantly, so you likely won’t be short of new images to complete your designs.

One quick note before we start:


We are not saying these sites have 100% risk-free images. What we say is theirs are safer than the rest. Be it due to better policing, known copyright owners, review processes or serious business backgrounds, the following offers in free images have a higher trust degree, and that’s why we chose them.

Now that’s cleared, dive into our massive list of the best free stock photo sites!

The 27+ Best Free Stock Photo Sites in 2019!

The 27+ Best Free Stock Photo Sites in 2019!




Posted on: March 18, 2019, 6:26 am Category: Uncategorized

0 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.