Whether you manage a business website, an online store or a social media account, sprucing things up with high quality pictures is absolutely essential if you want to engage and capture your audience and, ultimately, turn visitors into buying customers. However, unless you can afford a professional photographer or have the time to take relevant pictures yourself, you will have to rely on what is available online for commercial use.
The good news is, there are plenty of services offering free images at top quality. So-called stock image websites have extensive collections of images and sometimes graphics, vectors and even videos, which they make available to users around the globe for free. Depending on licencing arrangements, you are often able to edit those images to suit your needs before using them commercially or distributing them to your audience. We have compiled a list of the most popular stock image websites in 2020.
Operated by Shopify, Burst offers high-resolution images free for commercial use. Choose from any of the numerous categories and collections or search for pictures manually. Creative Commons Photos are free from any copyright and can be downloaded, reproduced and modified as needed. The website is easy to navigate and includes images for various industries with a focus on ecommerce.
With more than 2 million high-resolution images, Unsplash calls its contributors “the world’s most generous community of photographers”. The website started as a Tumblr blog offering users unused pictures from an in-house production and quickly turned into something much bigger. All pictures are free to use for commercial and non-commercial purposes and can be downloaded in high-resolution. There is no copyright attached, though Unsplash encourages the naming of photographers to help them gain more exposure.
Possibly the quirkiest collection of free stock images, Gratisography offers pictures that are slightly out of the ordinary. Website owner Ryan McGuire prides himself on providing his users with unique content, highly creative images from a different perspective, and each picture added to the library is carefully chosen. With no copyright restrictions, all high-resolution photos are free to download and use for commercial purposes.
Created by German computer technology experts, Pixabay has recently been acquired by online design platform Canva. The website now offers not only high-resolution images, but has a library with almost 2 million photos, videos, illustrations and vector graphics all available for free download and commercial use. The powerful search engine allows you to define your search as far as including spelling errors for your search term, and you can copy, modify and distribute all media content without having to give credit to the artist.
Pexels is another German-based creation that has also been acquired by Canva in 2019. With more than 3000 new stock photos added each month, Pexels now has one of the largest image libraries available online. Whether you are after landscapes, artsy and abstract motives or technology, Pexels is bound to have something for you. The website also offers videos, and all content is available for free download with permission to use commercially. Naming the source of each media file is encouraged, but not mandatory.
A community of photographers and artists, Stockvault offers general free stock images including of people, buildings, landscapes and electronics, as well as a large collection of textures and vector graphics including grunge, wood, liquid and metallic backgrounds. Watch out for licencing agreements for each image. While all pictures are free to download, only some are available for commercial purpose.
With a user-friendly interface and an easy-to-use search engine, Stocksnap is a great choice if you are looking for that special picture to go along with your content. New pictures are added each week, there is an extensive collection sorted by popular categories from business to nature, from emotions to wallpapers. All images are available for high-resolution download, commercial and personal use and have no copyright attached.
New Old Stock
If you are looking for historic or vintage imagery, New Old Stock is the place to search. All pictures are taken from public archives and are free of known copyright restrictions. Product designer and website owner Cole Townsend currently offers around 1500 files to download for free, each carefully chosen from Flickr Commons listed institutions such as museums and libraries from around the globe. Only downside is that not all pictures are available for commercial use while others may require a backlink and mention of the institution providing the image.
As the name implies, FoodiesFeed focuses on food-related pictures in stunning quality and entirely free. All images are subject to Creative Commons Zero licence, meaning no accreditation is necessary. The makers of FoodiesFeed aim to “make the online space related to food more beautiful” by offering powerful, high-resolution images about anything edible. Search by term or popular tags or browse latest additions, featured and trending photos.
Startup Stock Photos
The perfect choice for small businesses or entrepreneurs, startups, bloggers and creators. Startup Stock Photos focuses on tech-related content with plenty of office-related images. All pictures are royalty-free and can be used commercially, and the artists emphasise diversity and realness. However, at the time of writing, the site does not have a search function yet, which makes it harder to navigate.
Moose Stock Photos
A bit out of the ordinary, Moose Stock Photos offers realistic photo collages by providing you with transparent cutouts of objects, people, backgrounds and fonts which you can use to create your very own free stock photo. All images are free to use commercially in PNG and JPEG formats with the condition that you provide a backlink to Icons8, the company behind the website. Icons8 specialises in media and UX elements and offers a free photo creator tool to utilise their images. A paid licence gives you access to PSD files.
Whatever stock image resource you choose, always double check the licencing agreement for each picture. While the above-mentioned resources are generally free for commercial use, there may be additional conditions attached that you need to be aware of.
If you have any questions or would like some help getting the most out of your website or digital marketing, contact us at Energise Web today.