Communication is about more than words, but it can be hard to find the right image. These websites offer millions of photos — for free.
When I worked as a graphic designer I relied a lot on stock images. Back then I relied on one website for everything. Now the web is flooded with great photography that’s free — much of it doesn’t require attribution.
I’ve kept a list of stock photography on my writing resources page for the past couple of years, but it’s time for an update. There are hundreds of websites now offering free images, here’s the best websites I’ve found.
Death to the Stock Photo
Free high-resolution images sent via a monthly newsletter. Access to the complete library for $20/month. Top quality images.
A good selection of images that you can search for by word, color, category, or source.
Huge archive (200 million photos). The site offers a WordPress plugin that allows you to insert any of their images into your site automatically.
A Tumblr with the best free mobile images. Can be used commercially.
A good selection of free stock photography. Requires sign up. Also has links to “premium” images from Shutterstock.
Free images that can be used for commercial projects. The quality of the images are amazing, but hard to find if you have a specific images in mind.
Small but growing portfolio of images that don’t require attribution. Photos not model-released so be careful using photos with people in them on commercial projects.
Hand-picked Creative Commons and public domain photos. Small library, but excellent quality. One new photo every day.
New Old Stock
Images with no copyright restrictions harvested from public archives.
Five new photos added every day. A growing collection of excellent images.
Free images organized by category. No registration required. Premium accounts if you need more images.
Almost 400,000 photos, vectors, and drawings all in the public domain and don’t require attribution. Full resolution images require signup.
Startup Stock Photos
High-quality images with a focus on office life — not necessarily startups.
Large collection of photos licensed under Creative Commons or in the public domain. Pinterest-style layout.
The Pattern Library
A lovely site to use. Full of interesting textures and patterns to add some punch to your design.
10 Free images delivered to your inbox every ten days.
If you’re still looking for the perfect photo…
I almost always find the image I need at one of these websites. On the rare occasions that I can’t, I look to Getty Images. In 2014 added an option to embed 35 million of its images into your website for free.