The Badass List of Free Stock Photos Websites for Designers

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All the stock photos you can eat. Galleries, tools and websites you shouldn’t miss.

Why is it so freaking hard to find high quality, high-res free stock photos with no watermarks or shitty-designed websites around them?

Show me the list

Show me the tools

I mean, great photographers should get paid for their awesome work. But the internet has brought us new business models that allow you to get things for free. And not just crappy things – awesome ones too.

8213778466_822a5ef837_bFrom, credit: Jade Viladrich 

When was the last time you paid your beloved search engine Google? or your favourite time-waster Facebook? Never.

Free stock photos are the shizzle!

Whether it’s for creating a cool landing page, showing-off a prototype to your clients, or maybe using them a newsletter or for social media – free stock photos are the shizzle!

Finding them on the internet should be easy.

If you search Google for “stock photos” or “stock images”, it’ll find you really expensive ones, starting with $20 per image (for instance on Shutterstock or 123RF).

While I think that for many uses you NEED to have a paid, high-quality stock photo, in many other cases the free ones are good enough. Moreover, lately I’ve seen MANY high-quality stock images for free (spoiler: I’m about to share them with you).

Anyone could use a great photo of cats from time to time (credit: Gratisography)

So why does Google send me to the ones with watermarks, low-resolution or blurriness? I’ve had enough of that generic photo of the same guy, in the same office, holding the same computer in a meeting with the same hot model.

Lately I’ve bumped into a few cute blog sists containing lists of free stock image websites.

But… I wasn’t too happy with it. Some of those lists lacked a few the cool and new sources. Others didn’t include details about licensing and lastly, I’m a lazy lazy ass (not really). I hate looking through a list and then having to open 20 new tabs on my browser trying to remember which one of those sources has the photos I like best.

We need a better list of free stock photo websites

When I can’t find a good resource, I try to create it myself.

I’ll cover the best sources, along with explanations about licensing issues. And above all – for the most awesome sources I’ll show you eight samples, not just one, so in case you’re lazy like me (only kidding, mom!) you can easily browse it all until you’re sure you’ve found the right source.

More-moreover – I’ll show you two cool tools you can use to create fast good-looking images ready for social media purposes.

The legal part of the free stock photos world

Licensing is a big thing when using stock photos, especially if they are free. Unless you want to get sued by the photos owners, in which case free stock photos quickly turn into super expensive mistakes.

With most of these free stock photos you can just distribute, copy, edit, do whatever you want, for your own private use or for commercial purposes, without even asking anyone or giving any attribution.

Isn’t it awesome?! This is called a creative common public domain license. A weird-lawyery name for a great thing.

Note: try to avoid the use of any pic “as it is” as long it shows a logo or a brand. For example, some photos include the Samsung and Nike trademark. Pictures might be licenced under CC0, the brands and trademarks are not! Watch out.

A few of the photo resources here might require you to give credit to the photographer.  I’ll do my best to put those in bold it for you, but if I were you, I would cover my own ass – and once I find a resource I really like, I’d give it two more minutes to re-check. Things change fast on the web, and I wouldn’t want to mislead you.

Ready, steady, go!

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:: The badass list of free stock photos websites ::



Gist: this one has all the free photos from Pexels (a great collection of free stock photos). But not only that, you can also see how your photos look on different resolutions BEFORE you decide to download them. How cool is that?!

Copyright: free. Just make sure you press on “Free” not on “$$$”

How many: thousands


free stock photos nuschool


Gist: Taken by Karolina Grabowska from Poland, this beautiful collection includes great fashion and food stock photos.

Copyrights: free of restrictions – do as you wish, but when possible Karolina kindly asks to give credit to the website

How many: hundreds



Fancy Crave

Gist: Taken by Igor Ovsyannykov, this is a great collection of photos taken all around the world.

Copyrights: Free of use, but attribution would be appreciated

How many: dozens




Gist: Pinterest-like platform that is a sharing community. Anyone can sign up and add photos.

Copyrights: since it is from multiple sources, you gotta check per photo.

How many: 30,000




Gist: Photos all taken and edited by Dylan Simel’s iPhone. One a day, so growing every day.

Copyrights: free of restrictions – do as you wish

How many: only a few, but it’s growing fast




Gist: Beautiful free product stock photos

Copyrights: free of restrictions – do as you wish

How many: only a few, but it’s growing fast




Gist: All photos are taken by Daniel Nanescu – a great Italian photographer. You can go premium if you wish for only $20 per year and get a wider selection (that’s so cheap I would definitely try to convince my clients to pay it)

Copyrights: free of restrictions – do as you wish

How many: dozens




Gist: All photos are taken by Ryan Mcguire – web designer and artist. You can thank him with a small donation, but only if you wish: “I take better pictures caffeinated. Want to buy me a cup of coffee?”

Copyrights: free of restrictions – do as you wish

How many: dozens



Life Of Pix

Gist: A beautiful curated collection of free stock images by Leeroy, an advertising agency in Montreal. Any photographer can submit photos, but only superb ones are selected to be featured.

Copyrights: free of restrictions – do as you wish

How many: dozens



Startup Stock Photos

Gist: These photos are awesome if you need to create or design websites for startups and entrepreneurs. Made by Sculpt – a social media marketing agency from Iowa City. Most photos are taken by Eric Bailey.

Copyrights: free of restrictions – do as you wish (they would appreciate linking to their website though)

How many: dozens




Gist: All photos are free, taken by Viktor Hanacek. The website is an ad-funded website, so they kindly ask you to turn off your ad-blocker.  They also have a premium option, and even created a Photoshop plugin.

Copyrights: free of restrictions – do as you wish

How many: big collection. They saw over 1,288,941 downloads since 2013.