7 Websites for Free, High-Quality Stock Photography

Last updated: Jun 16, 2022

Relevant images are a key element to creating engaging content on the web. Whether it’s a blog article, a page on your website, or social media posts and ads, content with high-quality photos are much more likely to convert and be shared by visitors.

It’s not always feasible to produce original photos or to buy stock photography for every piece of content you create. So, how can you get your hands on high-quality stock photography without spending a fortune?

Luckily for us, communities of generous photographers have donated very professional, high-quality photos to use for free. Below is a list of my favorite websites that offer images under the CC0 license or similar. That license gives you permission to use these photos for free on personal and commercial projects with or without attribution.

The need for high quality images

People are visual creatures, so when it comes to remembering information, vision beats out all other senses. We are particularly good at remembering images which are easier to digest than reading text.

Let’s take a look at some numbers that show the benefits of using photos in content on the internet.

  • Socialbakers performed a study on 5,000 brand accounts they monitor on Facebook, and out of all of the most engaging posts, 93% of them were photos.
  • According to Buzzsumo, adding a relevant image to a Facebook post gets 2.3x more engagement.
  • In that same study, tweets with large summary images receive 3x more interaction.
  • Blog posts containing images get up to 94% more views as reported by Skyword.

Now that we’ve looked at the importance of great visuals, let’s find out where we can get them.

7 websites that provide stock photos free for commercial use

1. Unsplash

homepage for Unsplash.

What started out as a Tumblr blog, Unsplash now boasts a collection of more than half a million beautiful images. There are photos for almost everything. You can search for a specific topic or explore hundreds of collections.

Starting a free account allows you to curate your own public or private collections and follow your favorite artists. They even have their own iOS app so you can make posts on the go.

2. Pexels

homepage for Pexels.

Pexels is another website with a huge bank of photos. You can search by topic, browse by collection, and view the most popular photographers.

They have apps for iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows, and they even a plugin to integrate into your Photoshop workflow eliminating the need to switch back and forth between applications

If you are a photographer, they have challenges where you can submit your photo for a chance to win cash or prizes.

3. Cupcake

homepage for Cupcake.

Based out of Mälmo, Sweden, Jonas Wimmerström is a photographer with a very impressive portfolio. All of the images added to the Cupcake section are free to use commercially or otherwise.

It’s a smaller selection than the previous two websites, but a benefit of using images all from the same photographer is consistent visual feel and tone.

4. Burst

homepage for Burst.

Burst is a stock photography platform powered by Shopify. They have a great selection of photos with the usual search and collection features, but what sets them apart is their collection of helpful business guides.  

Their “Business Ideas” section contains photo kits and in-depth guides and tips about running a business in various different industries. It's a great resource if you are looking for ways to improve or create your e-commerce business.

The “Tips” section is all about using photography to create highly converting Facebooks ads and content, and getting the most out of your Facebook business page.

5. Pixabay

homepage for Pixabay.

Pixabay has a large, searchable collection of high quality photos, but where they really shine is their large database of free illustrations, vectors, and videos. They have a forum and a blog with helpful tips. Pixabay can be your one stop shop for all things media.

6. Foodiesfeed

homepage for Foodiesfeed.

Foodiesfeed is a food centered platform packed full of beautiful high resolution images perfect for food blogs or any place in need of great looking meals. You can browse by tags or dish.

7. Gratisography

homepage for Gratisography.

Looking for something a little more fun? The images at Gratisography, created by Ryan McGuire, are a bit more quirky and eccentric. It's a unique selection unlike what you’ll find on the other sites listed.

Bonus Resource

homepage for Duotone.

Duotone by Shapefactory creates a cool duotone effect on images. It sources images directly from the Unsplash database so you will have many images to choose from, or you can upload your own photos and apply the filter to them.

A duotone effect to use on background images since it makes the images less busy and allows text overlays to contrast better.


Hopefully this post has helped you find a couple new resources for beautiful, interesting stock photography to keep your audience captivated and engaged with your content.

If you’re not already using images in your posts, I would challenge you to incorporate some in your next several posts and measure whether you gain more shares and interaction.

I’m always on the lookout for free, high-quality stock photography, so if you know of any great resources not listed, let me know on Twitter.

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