The right photo can make or break a design. But, it’s not as easy as whipping out your phone, snapping a shot, and throwing it in your design. If you want to make an impact, you need a professional photo.
However, unless you moonlight as a photographer, buying professional photos for your designs can be expensive. Unless, of course, you know where to look. There are a ton of free stock photo sites on the web where you can find high-quality, professional level photos—without costing you a penny.
Here are 28 free stock photo sites where you can take your “pic” (pun intended) of thousands of photos to add to your designs:
Burst is a free stock photo site from e-commerce powerhouse, Shopify. Most of the photos (which are taken in-house by the Shopify team) are based on different business ideas, but if you dig, you can find a little bit of everything.
Death to Stock is a premium stock photo service, but if you sign up for their mailing list, you’ll get a “free photo pack” delivered to your inbox each month. The photo pack includes 10 themed stock photos. (For instance, this month’s theme is New Age of Work: Goods.)
Epicantus is a collection of original photography from Visual and UX Designer Daria. She publishes her photos to use (for free) under CC0. For an individual photographer, she’s got quite the collection and publishes new photos monthly.
Fancy Crave is a monthly subscription service ($10 per month gets you unlimited access to their image catalog). But, they also have a solid selection of free photos you can use without spending a dime.
If your design has anything to do with food, you need to check out FoodiesFeed. This site is the go-to resource for all things food photos. With nearly 1000 images to shop from, you should have no problem finding a photo to whet your appetite.
Free Nature Stock is a stock photo site dedicated to—you guessed it—nature images. The site is updated on a daily basis, so if you’re in need of an epic nature shot (think mountains, skylines, and oceans), you’ll definitely want to check this one out.
Freestocks.org has an impressive collection of free stock photos in multiple categories, including animals, city and architecture, fashion, and people. If you want a resource with a variety of photos, this one’s a good bet.
“Gratis” means free, so Gratisography means? That’s right. Free photography. This site has a variety of images, many of them fun and quirky. It’s also updated weekly, so if you need a steady stream of new images, this is a great resource.
With thousands of images licensed under CC0, ISO Republic is a solid resource for royalty-free images. This site also places a heavy importance on people-centric images, so if you need to add a human touch to your designs, this is a great place to look.
If you’re looking for versatility, Kaboompics is a great resource. With everything from abstracts to architecture, products to people, and food to fashion, this site is a treasure trove of high-quality images.
Libreshot is the brainchild of photographer Martin Vorel and has a solid collection of photos across multiple categories. While there’s a decent selection of photos, there’s a heavy focus on travel (with more than 300 photos of the Czech Republic alone).
Life of Pix is a great resource for free photos and videos. The site, which is run by creative agency LEEROY, has a great selection (including some epic nature shots) and adds new content weekly.
On most stock photo sites, you search for images by category. And while you can certainly do that on Magdeleine, they also have the option to search by dominant color—which, from a design standpoint, can make finding the right image much easier.
Powered by user interface and experienced designer, Jeffrey Betts, MMT is a collection of high-res stock photos free for the taking. While there are plenty of different types of photos on the site, there’s a heavy focus on work and technology and nature-based images.
There’s not much negative to say about Negative Space. With an impressive collection of artistic images across 16 categories, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to find what you’re looking for on this site.
If you’re looking for vintage or historic photos, look no further than New Old Stock. New Old Stock scours the web for vintage/historic images under public domain and compiles them into one easy-to-navigate platform.
If you want a lot of images to choose from, you should definitely check out Pexels. This site has a TON of high-quality images, and their tagging system makes it easy to find the kinds of images you’re looking for.
Picjumbo has tons of high-quality images, and the site adds new photos daily, so if you need a continuous stream of stock photos, this is a great resource. Plus, their categories are pretty varied, so no matter what project you’re working on, you’ll find something you can use.
Picography is a collection of crowdsourced images from photographers. All images are free to use and licensed under CC0.
Looking for a wide variety of images? How does, I don’t know… 1 million sound? Pixabay is one of the most comprehensive free stock photo sites out there, with more than 1.3 million photos up for grabs.
Not only does Raw Pixels have plenty of free stock photos, but they also have plenty of free stock artwork, so if you’re looking to do something creative or illustration-based with your design, this is a great resource to check out.
The tagline of their website is “no royalties, no fees, no worries”—and that about sums up ShotStash. They’ve got plenty of images, the website is easy to use, and they add new images daily.
Skitterphoto is a photographer run resource that catalogs a wide variety of images. But, the site has an impressive collection of abstracts—so if you’re looking for something a little different, you’ll definitely want to check it out.
SplitShire is a collection of free stock photos from photographer Daniel Nanescu. While this isn’t as comprehensive a collection as elsewhere on the web, there are nearly 1000 images that are still worth checking out.
In terms of selection, StockSnap.io is definitely a leader in the stock photo space. With hundreds of images added daily, there’s always something new to explore. And thanks to the site’s ranking system, you can easily access the most popular and downloaded photos on the site with the click of a button.
Is the target demographic for your design female? If so, you’ll definitely want to check out StyledStock. This collection of female-centric stock photos has everything you need to create a feminine design that connects with the ladies in your audience.
If you want your designs to inspire a feeling of wanderlust, you need to check out Travel Coffee Book. This collection of free travel photos has impressive pics from all over the globe—so whether you need a snap from Hong Kong, Bangkok, Croatia, or somewhere in between, they’ve got you covered.
Arguably the most popular free stock photo site on the web, Unsplash has literally every kind of photo you could ever want. Not sure what you’re looking for? Check out their homepage, where they showcase their favorite new submissions each day.
Did we miss your favorite site on this list? Let us know in the comments so we can add it!