If you’re a social media marketer, you know how difficult it can be to find the perfect image to accompany a post. We all know that photos are one of the most important components for boosting engagement, but unless you’re willing to pay for it, finding a great one can be seriously time-consuming.
That’s why we put together this handy collection of free stock photo websites. Bookmark it for quick reference.
Bonus: Get the always-up-to-date social media image size cheat sheet. The free resource includes recommended photo dimensions for every type of image on every major network.
22 of the best sites for free stock photos
Every image site in the list below falls under Creative Commons—so you don’t need to worry about getting sued. If you’d like to learn more about how image copyright works on social media, check out our post Can I Use This Photo on Social Media? Understanding Image Copyright.
1. Adobe Stock
Not only does Adobe Stock have over 90 million high-quality creative assets you can use in your social campaigns, you can license them directly within the Hootsuite dashboard. That means once you’ve found the perfect image, you can download it, attach it to your posts, and share it across your social channels—all from one place.
Gratisography is one of the most interesting of the free stock photo sites due to the quirky style of photographer Ryan McGuire. All of the photos are high-resolution and royalty-free—ready for your use wherever you please. The photos are organized in a number of categories—animals, nature, objects, people, urban, and whimsical—and new ones are added every week, which McGuire shares on Twitter and Facebook.
3. IM Free
IM Free is a “curated collection of free web design resources, all for commercial use.” The royalty-free stock photos are organized by themes such as technology, education, and nature. On the site you’ll also find free templates, icons, button makers, and more.
Pixabay offers over 490,000 free images and videos for both personal and commercial use. All images on the site are royalty-free and covered under Creative Commons CC0, which means they can be modified and used commercially online and in print.
In an effort to combat the issue of diversity and inclusion within media and marketing, Shopify held internal photo shoots to create high quality images of a diverse group of ethnicities and genders in the workplace. That collection is now open and free for personal and commercial use on a new stock photo site called Burst. Fun fact: Hootsuite made a special collection of stock photos in collaboration with Burst, too.
With over 5,427,891 downloads since it launched in 2013, Picjumbo is a popular free resource for social media images. Users can click through the different categories of over 600 free high resolution photos, or download a pack that includes all images as well as three Photoshop mockups (in exchange for a donation of $10 or more.)
Unsplash offers 10 new photos every 10 days via an email subscription and on their website. All photos are licensed under Creative Commons Zero, “which means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.” You can navigate the site by viewing the photos in their larger versions, but when browsing I usually find it easier to switch to the grid format.
Morguefile was created in 1996 and offers photographs available free for the use in creative projects. The website does ask that photographers or artists are credited when using their free stock images as they aren’t in the public domain. This is a great resource for free social media images that can be used as backgrounds for text-based graphics.
Stockvault hosts over 35,000 royalty-free images, graphics, and designs from photographers, designers, and students around the world. As long as you stay on the “Free Stock Photos” rather than the “Premium Stock Photos” tab, you have access to a huge library of photos to use on social media.
10. Negative Space
This site adds new free CC0 stock photos every week. These images are searchable by category, position, and color. Follow Negative Space on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates on when new images are added.
KaboomPics offers free, high-quality images that are available for personal and commercial use. The images you’ll find here are bright, modern, and aesthetically pleasing. And each comes with a helpful color palette so you can plan your visuals accordingly.
Instead of tired old stock photos, FancyCrave aims to provide “emotionally driven images that tell a story.” The easy-to-navigate website releases two new images from professional photographers everyday. When looking for free social media images, the colorful and vibrant nature of FancyCrave’s photos are especially eye-catching, which might make your social posts more engaging and shareable.
RawPixel prides itself on having the most diverse collection of stock photos around. The online resource is trying to change the face of stock photography and has started the (one) world face project with the ultimate goal of photographing people from every nation in the world. In addition to this excellent initiative, RawPixel provides a dynamic collection of free stock imagery that’s sure to fit your next campaign.
Bonus: Get the always-up-to-date social media image size cheat sheet. The free resource includes recommended photo dimensions for every type of image on every major network.Get the free cheat sheet now!
When researching resources for free social media images, I was told by more than one socially-savvy person that StockSnap was their favorite site. The free images here can be filtered by date, what’s trending, number of views or downloads, as well as the amount of keyword searches.
Startup Stock Photos is all about free stock images for “startups, bloggers, publishers, websites, designers, developers, creators, and everyone else.” The photos are especially great when you are sharing links to content such as a professional blog post—where the most fitting visual is of someone on a computer or in a casual business setting.
Web designer Daniel Nanescu created Splitshire as a collection of stunning, easy-to-browse images and video. The photos are sorted into helpful categories such as “abstract,” “still life,” and “technology.” Nanescu’s photos which previously lived “on a hard drive gathering dust” are now—for good reason—used books, magazines, and websites like The Huffington Post and CNN.
17. Life of Pix
Life of Pix is a collection of free high resolution stock images donated to the public domain by the Leeroy Advertising Agency in Montreal. With no copyright restrictions, the beautiful photos are free for personal and commercial use. If you need social media images of the moving variety, their sister site Life of Vids offers royalty-free videos, clips, and loops for you to use to your heart’s content.
The free stock images on Pexels are curated from sites such as Gratisography, Unsplash, and Little Visuals. All of the photos on the site are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero, so you can use any of the photos for personal or commercial purposes. The collection currently includes over 3,800 high resolution photos, with at least 70 new ones added every week.
19. Jay Mantri
Jay Mantri’s photographs are nothing short of breathtaking. While beautiful to scroll through in their large form, if you are needing to quickly find an image for your content or social media posting, I suggest changing to the archive view for an easier browsing experience.
20. ISO Republic
ISO Republic’s main mission is “to provide high-quality images to be used by designers, developers, bloggers, marketers and social media teams.” The categories these free social media images are sorted into, include architecture, nature, people, textures, urban, and everyone’s favorite, “various”.
21. New Old Stock
New Old Stock provide the ultimate “Throwback Thursday” content with hundreds of vintage photos from public archives. The photos are fascinating and would be a compelling addition to any social media campaign. Offering hundreds of royalty-free stock photos, New Old Stock’s collection showcases a wide variety of situations and subjects.
22. Free Refe
Free Refe has a collection of images known for their clarity, quality, and diverse subject matter. Although there is an emphasis on photos showing “real life,” the images are anything but mundane. As their website states, “using great imagery helps portray emotions, increase sales, and conversions,” the free photos here are a must-bookmark resource.
Easily find and edit free stock photos with Hootsuite
Hootsuite makes sourcing, adding, and editing photos for social media even easier. Here’s how.
You can now add the content storage solutions you already use —including Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and Dropbox—directly to your Hootsuite dashboard. And you can access these content sources directly from the ‘Compose’ box. This means you can attach photos to your posts and publish or schedule them in fewer clicks, and it will also gives you easier access to the central space your team uses to store the most recent versions of content for social.
Our integration with Adobe helps marketers easily discover, create, and distribute visual content across your social media channels.
The integration allows Hootsuite users to edit and optimize their images for each social media platform using Adobe Creative SDK. The full Adobe Stock library containing over 90 million high-quality creative assets is also available to users.
…But that’s not all you can do with Adobe in Hootsuite. Users can also connect their content library to their social channels with Adobe Experience Manager, and prove the value of their content strategy with Adobe Analytics.