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.



Made In Moments

Gist: Tomy and Marina describe themselves as a power couple, traveling around the world. Fortunately, they are sharing the photos they take during the trip.


Copyrights: free of restrictions – do as you wish

How many: a small collection.



Death To The Stock Photo

Gist: Made by Allie and David – two rogue photographers. With these cool guys, if you want to browse the free photos, you have to sign up to their newsletter. In return they promise to send you a monthly pack of super awesome photos. Annoying on one hand, but on the other hand you can be sure that not as many other designers will bump into their collection.

Copyrights: they have an interesting take on this. They don’t mind it if you use them, just don’t distribute them, claim they are yours, or use them for hate/porn/other bad uses.

How many: 10 new each month. Sign up to find out.


(I’d share some of their photos but I don’t want to ruin the surprise).



Gist: Big collection with many many contributors made by IMCreator.

Copyrights: Free for commercial use, attribution to the creator is required.

How many: thousands (though not all are top-level-awesomeness)




Gist: A great-looking collection of high-res free stock photos from around the web

Copyrights: free of restrictions – do as you wish

How many: dozens



New Old Stock

Gist: Cole Townsend is someone who’s trying to focus on one thing, and does it amazing. 99% vintage free photos only. You can donate if you want to thank him.

Copyrights: no known copyrights restrictions (what’s that?!)

How many: dozens




Gist: Superfamous is the Los Angeles-based studio of Dutch interaction designer Folkert Gorter.

Copyrights: CC3.0. It means that you can copy and reuse them, just give credit to the photographer.

How many: Unknown ;) Sign up to find out.



Jay Mantri

Gist: Photos by Jay Mantri – 7 new photos every Thursday.

Copyrights: free of restrictions – do as you wish

How many: dozens



Travel Coffee Book

Gist: A collection of… well… as the name hints – travel photos from all over the world.

Copyrights: free of restrictions – do as you wish

How many: dozens.



Lock & Stock Photos

Gist: A small collection of photos taken by AJ Montpetit.

Copyrights: Creative Commons License ShareAlike 4.0. Meaning that if you use any of these photos, link back to his main website:

How many: dozens.




Gist: A small collection of photos taken by Jeshu John from India.

Copyrights: free of restrictions – do as you wish

How many: dozens.




Gist: This is a small hand-picked collection of photos taken by professional photographers.

Copyrights: free of restrictions – do as you wish

How many: dozens.




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The collectors

Here are some more websites that accumulate free stock photos from other sources or from many photographers.


This cool website collects images from a bunch of the sites I’ve mentioned like Unsplash and Jay Mantri. It then makes them searchable by keyword and color. There are currently around 4,000 images indexed. nuschool


A beautiful project by Vilem Ries. You can browse through super-niche categories (called Albums) such as “Smokers” or “Blondes”. Photographers can upload their own photos, and anyone can create a new album.

Vilem Ries nuschool


With over 400.000 photos and graphics, this is one of the biggest collections out there.

Membership is free, and the community is extremely active.

Developers may use Pixabay’s API to enable free image searches and downloads on their websites and apps.











Yay Images

Best of Stock Photo

Large Photos


Public Domain Archive


Barn Images


Snapwire Snaps

Good Free Photos

Good Stock Photos

Negative Space

Photos By People

Creative Vix

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More Indie Websites

The following list consists of one-man-show stock photo websites. It is usually a professional photographer or a designer sharing his art.

One Left Media

Stock Photos Hub

Real Graphy

Images Picture


The Light Painters Loft

Sabrina from Greece is generous enough to give away her photos, no rights needed.


Full Of Free

10 new amazing photos per day from Mirko Pernjakovic. You can use as you wish, but he asks to give him credit (CC 4) – so don’t forget to mention his name/website when you use it.

ISO Republic




Free Nature Stock



Pattern Pics

The “meh” photo stock sites

The following list contains sites that offer huge collections of free stock photos. The design of the site isn’t as great as the ones I’ve mentioned before, but they are searchable and contain thousands of photos each. Most of the photos are meh, but you can still find good ones.

Free Images





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The tools

I love it when graphic and web designers invest a few good hours in creating an image that’s going to appear on their client’s FB page, or newsletter, or any other social network. Respect!

But sometimes, we need to be faster. Our clients might not have the budget to pay us for 3-hours’ worth of design per image to be used on their FB page. Sometimes they want to post five of those a day.

Still, they need your designer eyes because you know what happens when you let business people play with fonts and sizes… it ends up messy.

Crop it like it’s hot!

This amazing tool will help you see images cropped BEFORE you download them. Which means you don’t waste your time on the wrong image…

free stock images crop nuschool photype


Meet Pablo – Social media images in 30 seconds

Made by Buffer – a startup that creates easy and fast ways to publish on social media – this tool is the simplest you’ll ever see for merging a photo with text.

Hell, it’s so simple and can save you so much time, that I wouldn’t tell my clients about it. Let’s keep it our little secret, aight? ;)

pablo free stock photos tool nuschool

Here’s how it goes:

  1. You go in (no need to sign up!)
  2. You insert the text
  3. You choose an image from UnSplash, or upload your own
  4. You style your image, play with the text, font, color, move things around – and ta da!

This one image quoting Jay Z took me 92 seconds (including a sip from my espresso) to create:

pablo (8)

It won’t look like your 3-hrs designed image, but it’s good enough for many uses such as inspirational quotes, blog post teasers, facebook preview images, instructions, etc.

And if you can grab more money from your clients helping them with their social media feeds, well you should! They need your creative work and you need to buy espressos.


OK, I think we’ve had enough fun time together for now. I hope I helped you with those free stock images sites and tools. In case I missed anything, let me know in the comments below.

I’ll make sure to update this post whenever I find more new and awesome free stock photos websites.

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