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The Ultimate List of Stock Photography Sites to Use In a Pinch

Jason LaRose May 5, 2015 Branding & Design, Creativity, Noteworthy, Resources, Web Design & Development 6 Comments

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Photography is one of the most important elements of design. It can tell a story, define a brand, and help provide a visual to accompanying content.

We almost always use stock photography in our initial design presentations, whether to set the mood for custom photography, or to actually use for the final design.
Stock photography is pretty much everywhere you look. Its easily accessible for a low price from Shutterstock or iStockPhoto, and can get more expensive from sources like Masterfile or Getty.

However, in recent months we’ve noticed an increase in free stock photo sites for personal and commercial use. The more we look, the more they seem to be multiplying like rabbits (see what we did there). No cheesy clipart or animated gifs, no oversaturated cliché business photos with fake smiles–but stunningly awesome photos that are really high quality. We’ve kept our eyes open on such sites and have been taking note to compile the ultimate list of stock photography sites; and the list has grown so large, that we needed to share them. Sure, other lists exist out there, but none as big or bare bones as what we’ve compiled for you below.

Being free, of course these sites come with a few caveats. While they have amazing photos that could be exactly what you’re looking for, unfortunately some lack a search field, so finding an ideal image may be time consuming. But we did our homework and there is an equally long list of sites with search functionality. Of course with all stock photography, be sure to read up on copyrights and licensing. We hope you find this list to be useful down the road!

The “Unsearchables”

While they may not have a search field, some are categorized or continuously scrolling.

The Searchables

Search the Unsearchable

These sites pull in information and search from some, not all, of the sites listed above.

And if Still Images Aren’t Your Thing…

These sites offer free stock videos (yes, videos).

Granted, there are more sites out there that offer free stock photos, but the quality just isn’t there to leave a memorable impact. Have you stumbled across any we may have missed? Leave a comment if you did!


  • hayley May 29, 2015

    This list is fantastic! Exactly what I needed – thank you….

  • David June 17, 2015

    Nice list, thank you! FYI the link to StockUp is broken

  • Meredith in Denver July 2, 2015

    Free videos?! I didn’t know there were sites that did that (legitimately). But I didn’t see Morgue File on your list, or maybe I just missed it? Sometimes you can get good free food pictures there.

  • Bob July 20, 2015

    Also check out http://www.goodfreephotos.com for thousands of free public domain photos, especially travel photos by me. Appreciate it if you could add it to your list. Thanks.

  • Irene September 3, 2015

    Hi! Nice article and website. I think you are doing a great job here. It is very important nowadays for designers and not only designers, even regular people with blogs and such to have access to free or low priced stock images. You should also check out http://yayimages.com/ We have a great option that no other stock site has, the option of streaming images, unlimited access to the whole database of images available on the site, without downloading the images. You get a link to the image and copy-paste into whatever you are working on. You can get a free trial of one month of the streaming plan to test this out. We also have a built in option of editing the images in your browser directly on the site before using them, which helps for those who want a fresh new look to the images they want to use. The streaming option is normally available at 9.99$ per month. Check us out and tell what you think of our site. Cheers! Irene

  • Sketchjar September 9, 2015

    Awesome List, I have started a personal project called http://www.sketchjar.com . We upload two hand picked pictures every day and all pictures are under creative commons zero license. Do consider including it in your list.

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