17 Sites with Stunning, Royalty-Free Stock Photos (2021)

free stock photos big head

It’s not difficult to find sites with free stock photos these days. A quick Google search will yield so many results, your head will spin.

No, the real challenge is finding sites with the right photos.

By that, we mean interesting, high-quality stock images that’ll make your blog or freelance project shimmer and shine.

It’s also difficult to find sites with simple licensing agreements that clearly lay out what you can and can’t do with an image.

Or at least, it was difficult.

We’ve put together a list of the 17 best sites for high-quality, royalty-free stock images. It’ll be the go-to resource you can bookmark and reference over and over.

But enough talk. Let’s dive in.

1. Gratisography

Gratisography is a free stock photo site created by Ryan McGuire, founder of the graphic design firm Bells Design.

Photo by Ryan McGuire on Gratisography

While they don’t have the image volume of some stock photo sites, they do have a unique angle that makes their photos stand out — their photos are less stocky and more comedic than other sites.

Or as Gratisography describes it: “Truly unique. Usually whimsy. And always free.”

New pictures are added weekly.

Free Stock Photos? What’s the Catch?

All Gratisography images are licensed under the Creative Commons CC0 license.

Allowed:

  • Images can be used for commercial and non-commercial projects.
  • You can edit photos to your liking.
  • You can sell products with the images on them.

Not Allowed:

  • Identifiable people in the images may not be portrayed in a bad or offensive way.
  • Don’t use images for unlawful, defamatory, hateful, or immoral purposes.
  • Don’t imply endorsement of your product by the people in the images or Gratisography.
  • You can’t redistribute or sell photos on other stock photo sites.

How to Navigate Gratisography’s Website

stock photo sites gratisography layout

2. Pexels

Pexels has a huge collection of free stock photos and videos. They have one of the easiest to navigate curated collections of any stock photo site.

free stock photos astronaut
Photo by Murat Esibatir on Pexels

Pexels’ Leaderboard page shares their most viewed photos of the last 30 days, making it easier to find popular images.

They also have a great blog and social media presence where they share tips on photography and curated work from their best contributors.

High-Quality Images for Free? What’s the Catch?

All Pexels images, including those aggregated from sites like Gratisography and Little Visuals, are licensed under CC0.

Allowed:

  • Photos & videos are free to use, no attribution required.
  • You can edit photos and videos as you like.

Not Allowed:

  • Identifiable people in the images may not be portrayed in a bad or offensive way.
  • Don’t sell unaltered photos, on products or otherwise, without first modifying it.
  • Don’t imply endorsement of your product by the people in the images.
  • The use of Pexels content in any political context is forbidden.
  • Don’t redistribute or sell photos on other stock photo sites.

How to Navigate Pexels’ Website

stock photo sites pexels layout

3. Pixabay

Pixabay stands out among stock photo sites because of their extensive image library.

They have over 1.8 million high-quality photos, vectors, and illustrations and are recognized as one of the go-to’s when it comes to stock photography.

free stock photos street view
Photo by Juergen Polle on Pixabay

While they have all types of content, they cater especially to marketers and entrepreneurs and their images tend to be business and marketing oriented.

Their visually striking & captivating images are great for grabbing the attention of readers and customers.

Free Images? What’s the Catch?

All Pixabay images are licensed under CC0.

Allowed:

  • All content can be used for commercial and non-commercial purposes, no attribution required.
  • Content can be modified as you like.

Not Allowed:

  • Don’t redistribute or sell images on other platforms.
  • You can’t sell unaltered copies of images.
  • Don’t portray identifiable people in a negative way.
  • Don’t imply a misleading association between people/brands featured in the images and your product.

How to Navigate Pixabay’s Website

stock photo sites pixabay layout

4. Unsplash

Unsplash began as a Tumblr blog in 2013, but now has one of the largest stock photo libraries online.

free stock photos woman jogging 1
Photo by Robert V. Ruggiero on Unsplash

They boast over 2 million available images from over 200,000 contributors. And they add 10 new photos every 10 days.

Their library is well-curated and easy to search, so finding the right image won’t be difficult.

They also have a “Made With Unsplash” page dedicated to sharing projects created with Unsplash images, in case you need some inspiration.

Royalty-Free Images? What’s the Catch?

All Unsplash images are licensed under CC0.

Allowed:

  • You can use the images for commercial and non-commercial purposes, no attribution required.
  • You may modify the images as you like.

Not Allowed:

  • Images can’t be sold without significant modification.
  • Don’t redistribute or sell images on other platforms

How to Navigate Unsplash’s Website

stock photo sites unsplash layout

5. Burst

Burst is a stock photo website owned by Shopify that caters to e-commerce brands and entrepreneurs seeking photos for commercial use.

free stock photo city on river
Photo by Bruno Passos on Burst

Their images are curated by industry and other easily navigable categories, like Products, Retail, and Fashion.

But they provide their target market with even more value beyond just images. They share great tutorials on how to use their images in marketing campaigns (i.e. Facebook Ads, product photos, online videos, etc.) And they have a “Business Ideas” page that shares case studies of online businesses created by their users.

Free Stock Images? What’s the Catch?

Some Burst images are released under CC0, while others fall under Shopify’s photo license.

Allowed:

  • You can use the images for commercial and non-commercial purposes, no attribution required.
  • You may modify the images as you like.

Not Allowed:

  • Photos may not be used for unlawful or immoral purposes.
  • Photos may not be used in a way that embarrasses or damages the reputation of identifiable people in the photo.
  • May not use photos to imply endorsement of your product.
  • You may not offer Shopify licensed photos for sale in any way.
  • May not sell or compile photos for a competing stock photo service

How to Navigate Burst’s Website

stock photo sites burst layout

6. StockSnap.io

StockSnap.io has a large selection of easily searchable stock photos. And they add hundreds of new images every week.

free stock photo woman posing
Photo by Matt Moloney on StockSnap

One thing that immediately stands out about their images is how bright and energetic they tend to be.

Categories include business, beach, city, food, fashion, work, health, and more.

Check out their “Trending” page to find their most popular images.

Free High-Resolution Images? What’s the Catch?

All StockSnap images are licensed under CC0.

Allowed:

  • You can use the images for commercial and non-commercial purposes, no attribution required.
  • You can modify images as you like.

Not Allowed:

  • May not use images to imply endorsement of company, product, or service.

How to Navigate StockSnap’s Website

stock photo sites stocksnap layout

7. Kaboompics

Kaboompics is a stock photo website created by Karolina Grabowska.

free stock photos holding seashells

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