Here's a list of online resources and websites where you'll find free stock photos for your social media posts, website, or other marketing channels.
You might be the most amazing social media manager in the world, with an impeccable social strategy and well-honed posting schedule — but that doesn’t mean you know how to take a picture. Maybe you should be looking into free stock photography instead.
Even if you’ve studied up on how to take good Instagram photos, sometimes it’s just best to leave imagery to the professionals. Which is where free stock photos come in.
And, lucky for you, the internet is chock-a-block with gorgeous, royalty-free, copyright-free photos, just waiting for a chance to dazzle your followers.
In fact, we’ve managed to round up 38 (thirty eight!) of the best free stock photo websites to share with you. So if you’re looking for photos for commercial use that don’t cost a penny but will make your social feeds look like a million bucks, read on.
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.
How to know if a stock photo is free to use
Before you go on a shopping spree (or… whatever it’s called when the thing you’re shopping for is totally free), it’s important to clearly understand how to know if a stock photo is free to use.
If you accidentally share something that doesn’t give you commercial rights, you might be in violation of copyright law — which could mean some serious consequences for your brand, or even you personally.
And unfortunately, “I didn’t know” won’t fly as a legal defense.
So look for clear descriptions on the stock photo website that say “commercial use allowed,” “commercial use and modifications allowed,” or “no known copyright restrictions.”
Anything licensed under the Creative Commons or public domain is fair game too.
Gorgeous, editorial style pics are everywhere here. Photographers upload their content in hopes of catching someone’s eye for future paid work. In the meantime, low- or no-budget brands can benefit from the wealth of stylish shots. Not sure what to search for? Browse featured collections like “Athletics,” “Travel,” or “Technology” to spark some inspiration.
Gratisography is really pushing the whimsy here. Download any of their free high-resolution stock photos for whatever use you want, thanks to a “peace of mind” license. Lots of illustrations are available, too.
Find free photos, vectors and videos courtesy of Adobe, which all meet the exact same licensing standards as the company’s paid content. Some shots look a little more posed and stock photo-y than others… but maybe that’s what you’re going for!
Heads up: you do need to create a (free) Adobe account to download.
You guessed it: more free stock photos for editorial or commercial use. No attribution required at all here, so if you don’t want to give credit to the person who shot this person holding a pumpkin, you don’t have to.
RawPixel has a decent collection of Public Domain images (either photos that have fallen out of copyright, or has been dedicated to the public domain). You might find just what you’re looking for here… though you do need to sign up with a free account to get it.
Okay, I’m going to start getting repetitive at a certain point, because it’s hard to say something new about another collection of royalty-free images and stock photos. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing a little search here for some Insta-inspo!
Self-described as “femine” stock photography, the collections here are airy, bright, and generally have an “Instagram influencer making smoothies in the ‘burbs” vibe. Which sometimes is exactly what you need.
Here’s a trick to find free photos on Flickr: search for images that photographers have labelled with “Creative Commons” licensing! Or, just poke around the Flickr Commons, a database of public photography from around the world.
Morgue file was started back in ‘96 as a free image exchange for creative professionals and teachers. It’s still alive and well, with images now available for anyone and everyone to use however they see fit. There’s a lot of amateur stuff here, but also lots of hidden gems.
Find stylish (and very Instagrammable) photoshoots here at Kaboom. Hot editing idea: some of the textured photos could make cool backdrops or borders for any of these other stock photos you’ve just downloaded.