Originally posted on April 14th, 2022.
Revised on Thursday 1st December 2022.
Images are effective at helping to explain complex information. Whilst many people interpret the written word in different ways, visuals are a more universal way to get information across.
A lot of information can be processed from a picture in seconds. We actually process images far quicker than the written word. Besides saying a lot with less, images can make what you say far more memorable.
Where to Find Free Images
The great news is that there’s heaps of great resources when you’re looking for free images. We use these sites ourselves on a daily basis - they inspire us and help us source the perfect images for all of the creative projects we work on.
You should check for copyright and licensing with each website in this list. Each website will have its own terms on what you can do with the images, and checking this beforehand will help you avoid any legal issues.
Here’s over 25 sites that you can use when you need awesome images for any of your design projects. Take a look and bookmark those that are perfect for your projects.
Our Favorite Four
Before you explore all of the different sites available in depth, here’s our most recommended sites for getting stock images. These four are the first to mind when we’re looking for a source of either inspiration or creating graphics, such as illustration and image collages, for example.
A key problem with using free images concerns their copyright status. This is why Pexels is a go-to stock site for designers, because you won’t run into this issue. Images at Pexels use a Creative Commons license, meaning you won’t have any copyright conflicts at any point. Everything at Pexels can be edited and used however you like, even for commercial purposes.
2. Life of Pix
A Canadian-based site, Life of Pix has plenty of public domain images that are free to be used for both personal and commercial projects. There are no copyright restrictions on all photos and you do not have to be a member to download them. You will also not be required to attribute when using downloaded images, although it will be great to credit the Leeroy Creative Agency all images on the website are donated by them.
What sets Magdeleine apart is the website’s search function. Unlike other sites, you can filter by color, license and category. Thank to this, it’s easy to find the images that match your design style. The only drawback is checking for copyright by using the said filter. Some copyrighted images exist on Magdeleine because the website curates stock images from a number of sources.
This site is one of the oldest and most-acclaimed image repositories on the internet. Many illustrators, designers, and comic book artists have used it to support their creative projects. Searching and downloading is easy. You don’t even need to sign up. Just note that MorgueFile is another service where you’ll need to double check individual copyright and license agreements when using downloaded images.
Here’s Many More Great Resources for Stock Images
Whilst 123RF is mainly a premium site for royalty-free images, audio, videos, and vector files, it also offers plenty of free images for its members. Signing up for an account is free - you only need to pay for premium files. There’s plenty of free stuff, but it’s not always available at the highest resolution. As the inventory is updated frequently, you’ll also need to be fairly quick at downloading the image you like before it’s gone.
Unsplash exists thanks to a community of generous artists and photographers that offer their images for free. Everything is licensed to be used freely, both for commercial and non-commercial purposes. Whilst permissions aren't needed, attribution is always appreciated. Just be mindful that you cannot sell the images as-is, or make a website similar to Unsplash by using the photos downloaded from their library.
Unlike common stock photography sites, Death to Stock Photo sends out images by email to its members once a month. You’ll be treated to high quality photos each and every month to use for your projects, with no attribution required.
Burst is Shopify’s answer to free stock photos for entrepreneurs. Not only do you get to have your hands on high-quality images, but you will also have access to business tips and ideas that will be useful in growing your own business. This is perfect for new entrepreneurs and early stage companies where high quality, free resources can really help bolster their marketing.
This site has a gigantic collection of royalty-free stock photos, including free stuff for members. At Dreamstime, your attribution acts as payment. There’s over 10,000 free images up for grabs in their gallery and some of it is in high-quality resolution.
Every Stock Photo claims to have all of the stock images available on the internet. Images from the likes of Flickr and Wikimedia Commons are available here. It’s free to use, with attribution needed for some of the images. Whilst the navigation is a little clunky and some of the thumbnails are small,. the trade-off is that you can access some high-resolution images without paying for anything.
There’s over 200 million images on Foter, so it’s fair to say it has all types of images available for your projects. There’s a handy plugin too, if you’re a WordPress user. Aside from a seamless search, the site also offers stunning high-resolution images in its library. Most of the downloads require attribution and a backlink.
12. Free Images
Free Images has a simple search function, with the ability to navigate through its free categories. All images are available for free on a non-exclusive basis. You can also search by contributor and even by the type of camera that was used for the shot.
Pixabay is a popular choice for stock images, having been around for some years now. All photos are licensed under Creative Commons Zero, so you can download images without permission from the artists. There’s no attribution required but it’s always appreciated by the owner.
Searching this website’s gallery is simple, as you don’t need to sign up. Whilst the captcha process for each download is a little lengthy, there’s plenty of generic stock images available here for free, with attribution.
FreeImages.Pictures is a good option for users of Flickr, Openclipart, and Pixabay for stock images. It has all photos from those sites and more, making it a bit easier to search those libraries without having to visit individual sites. There’s no need to sign up for membership and not all downloads require attribution when used. It also has Google Custom Search on site - just be mindful that some images within these results aren’t always copyright-free.
Are you designing a nature-inspired project? Check out GetRefe for impressive nature-inspired stock images. They’re free to download, without signing up for membership. There’s no need for attribution, either. Although it has quite a small collection, it is guaranteed that you will have stunning outdoorsy images that will be great for relevant design projects.
17. Good Free Photos
Good Free Photos has stock images mainly contributed by travelers across the US and beyond. What’s quite handy is that you can search by location, or go straight to the gallery to search for specific images. Some of the photos are in high resolution and no membership or attribution is required if you want to download them.
Photographer Ryan McGuire offers free high-resolution images from this site. Although it doesn’t have a huge library, there’s some really interesting composition in many of these pictures. Some photos have a touch of humor and some are more emotive. These will be great for creating one-of-a-kind designs that reflect your project’s human side.
19. Little Visuals
Little Visuals post seven high-quality images every seven days. The themes are usually more abstract in nature, including textures, atmosphere and moody scenes. That means they’re perfect for use in captivating and dynamic creative projects. You can access the images in a zip format, even if you’re not a member.
The eastern side of the world is full of stunning colors. If you want to be inspired by the richness of eastern culture for your design project, then Moveast is the website to visit. The images feature spectacular scenes of the eastern world. There is no attribution required, or sign up needed in order to download the images. Whilst the gallery is not that big, it is growing, and every image is in high-quality resolution.
Canva is popular among graphic artists because it has lots of free images that you can use for your design projects. One advantage is being able to edit images instantly. Canva mainly functions as a graphic design tool which has everything you need to design and create custom graphics. This is handy if you need interesting images combined with graphics for your social media posts, websites, or blog content.
Before social media platforms arrived, Flickr was a very big deal. It’s one of the oldest image hosting platforms where you can search and download images for free. Make use of the filter to find the images that are copyright free.
Variety is what PicJumbo offers to both members and non-members. The free images can be used for any kind of project. You can search its vast library, and also receive new images directly to your email. Although the free image collection is already great, the premium photos are amazing and can often be worth the investment.
24. Photo Everywhere
Travel adventures are one of the most common design inspirations by many creatives. Photo Everyone has plenty of travel stock images that you can freely download. It’s easy to search using keywords, or by using the map for location-specific photos. No membership or attribution is required, and there’s lots of high resolution images available.
Raumrot may have a small gallery of free stock images but it is only because each of the images is hand-picked and has high-quality resolution. There is no attribution or membership required to search and download their photos.
You’ll need a membership to use RGBStock but it’s all worth it. All the images on the site are 100% free to download and use for all kinds of creative projects. The images are all in high resolution, so you’ll have no problem when using them in your design.
27. Skitter Photo
Three Dutch photographers contribute to this site where you can download high-quality images for free. Everything on this small gallery is stunning. The still photos are worth downloading and are great for commercial use. There’s no need to sign up or put attributes on downloaded images.
The Right Image Adds Extra Value to Your Projects
As you can see, there’s a lot of resources where you can get high-quality and free images for all of your design projects. They’re perfect for creating designs for marketing and advertising, publishing, blogs, websites, and much more. From illustrations, infographics, photos, icons, and more, images are important in making a design complete, attractive, and purposeful.
We’d highly recommend looking at Our Favorite Four first, which we think are great starting points for getting the right images for your needs. They’ve made our creative process easier and more inspiring - we hope these sites can do the same for you!
Have some amazing secret resources of your own? Share them with us - we’d love to spread the word and help the designstripe community further!