Whether you are a blogger or web designer, you need images to strengthen the message you want to convey via your works. Photo is the common type of image widely used by designers and bloggers. While there are sites like Shutterstock and Adobe Stock, you can use free alternatives to minimize monthly expenses. We have curated the best websites you can rely on to download royalty-free photos for free.
What is royalty-free?
Royalty-free is a type of license that allows you to use certain products (including photos) without needing to pay royalties per use or period of use. When you buy a certain product licensed under royalty-free, you can use it without any limitation of usage period or volume. Sites like Shutterstock and Adobe Stock use royalty-free as the license, meaning that you don’t need to pay the photographers whose you use the photos of. Instead, you just need to pay Shutterstock or Adobe Stock. For small businesses, spending around $29 per month for ten photos is expensive. Moreover, if you are a blogger or freelancer with uncertain income. Free stock photo sites are the best solution.
Things to Know Before Choosing a Free Stock Photo Site
Pexels and Pixabay are two examples of websites where you can get royalty-free photos for free. You can download as many photos as you want from these websites. Although you can use the photos for free, there are some things you need to understand first, especially regarding the license. You can read the license page of the website you want to download the photos from before you download and use the photos. It is crucial because a free stock photo site might require you to credit the photographer or mention the associated website.
If you find a free stock photo website that uses CC0 license, you can use the photos without needing to both credit the photographer and mention the associated website. You can refer to this page to learn more about this license. CC Search is a great resource where you can find CC0-licenced photos.
11 Websites to Download Royalty-Free Photos for Free
Our first recommendation for free royalty-free photos is Pexels. It is a community-driven free stock photo website, meaning that the photos available on the site are not submitted by a single photographer. Instead, the photos are contributed by talented, generous photographers from around the world. All photos available on Pexels can be downloaded for free for any purpose, including commercial, be it printed or digital. You can visit its license page to learn more about the license. If you are photography hobbyist, you can also share your works on Pexels.
While you can directly download the photos from the Pexels website, official plugins are also available for WordPress, Figma, and Sketch. In addition to photos, Pexels also offers free footage in case you want to add video element to your work.
Same as Pexels, Pixabay is also community-driven free stock photo website where you can download royalty-free photos for free. At the time of writing, there are over 2.2 million images available on Pixabay. Ranging from photos, vectors, and illustrations. Need free footage? You can also get ones from Pixabay. You can get free photos from a wide range of categories. From nature, computer, portrait, still life, and so on. The license of Pixabay allows you to use the photos you downloaded without needing to credit the photographers or mention Pixabay. You can visit this page to learn more about Pixabay license.
If you are a designer, chances are you have heard about Freepik. It is a website where you can get PSD, vector, icon, and photo files. Freepik itself is a freemium website. Some files are available for free, but you need to mention Freepik on every work you create with Freepik’s files.
You can visit this page to download photos from Freepik. You can use the available filtering feature to filter free photos. Beware before using a photo you downloaded from Freepik. Usually, you need to mention Freepik for every work you create with Freepik’s photos. You can read the license applied to each photo on the detailed page of the associated photo.
Rawpixel is pretty similar to Freepik in the terms of business model in which it adopts the freemium business model. You can visit this page to find free photos offered by Rawpixel. Rawpixel uses CC0 license for its free photos, meaning that you can use the photos you downloaded from Rawpixel without needing to mention Rawpixel. You can read its license page to learn more about the license.
Picjumbo is a personal project by a Czech Republic photographer Viktor Hanacek. All photos available on Picjumbo are taken by Victor himself. Even so, its collections are rich enough and have been downloaded by over eight million times according to a stat on its site. You can also use photos available on Picjumbo for free for any purpose, including commercial. Premium photos are also available if you are interested.
Unsplash is a free, community-driven stock photos website. It is one of the most popular websites in this area. Recently, Getty Images acquired Unsplash, but it promised to always be available as a free stock photo website. Unsplash focuses on providing photos. You can’t find other visual content on Unsplash but photos. Unsplash uses a CC0-similar license to allow you to use the photos you downloaded from Unsplash for free without needing to mention Unsplash or credit the photographer although it would be highly appreciated. You can read its license page to learn more about what you can do and can’t with Unsplash photos. Unsplash has an official plugin for WordPress and Figma.
Magdeleine is a prove that WordPress can be used to create any type of website, including a community-driven stock photo website. You can find quality high resolution photos on this site just like other websites above. They are contributed by generous photographers from around the world. Magdeleine uses the CC0 as the license, meaning that you can use the photos you downloaded from Magdeleine for free for any purpose without both crediting the photographer or mentioning Magdeleine. Magdeleine offers photos in categories like nature, architecture, people, food, technology, and so on.
8. Life of Pix
Life of Pix is another great website to get royalty-free photos for free. Photos available on Life of Pix are donated to public domain, meaning that you can use them without the risk of breaking the copyright. You can even use the photos without needing to credit the photographer or mention Life of Pix. You can visit the about page of Life of Pix to learn the applied license. to learn more about public domain, you can refer to this page. In Life of Pix, you can find photos by category, color, and orientation.
9. Negative Space
Negative Space is another prove that WordPress is a versatile CMS that you can use to create any type of website, including community-driven stock photo website. All photos available on Negative Space are licensed under the CC0 license so that you can use them for free for any purpose without worrying about the copyright issue. You can find photos from categories like business, architecture, abstract, nature, people, and so on. You can also share your shots in case you are a photography hobbyist.
Icons8 has one thing in common as Freepik. It offers visual content in a wide range of formats instead of just photos. You can also find icons and illustrations. Icons8 is especially a great option if you are looking for free photos taken at the studio. You can visit this page to find free photos on Icons8. Icons8 offers two license types: free and paid. The free license requires you to mention Icons8, just like Freepik. You can visit this page to learn more about Icons8 licenses.
Vecteezy is another option to get royalty-free photos for free. You can also get free footage and illustrations in case you need ones. The business model adopted by Vecteezy is pretty similar to Icons8 and Freepik in which you have two license options to choose from. The free license requires you to credit Vecteezy. You can use the filtering feature offered by Vecteezy to filter free photos.
The Bottom Line
You can make use of Google to find a photo for your work, but it is not the best practice in the professional world as Google doesn’t show the original source of the photo. It can lead to a problem to use a photo from the inappropriate source. Usually regarding the copyright. You can use a trusted stock photo sites like Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, and iStock for your imagery needs, including photos. If you are on a tight budget, you can use the websites we have just mentioned above as the free alternatives.