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What's the Best Free Stock Photography Site?

A Guide to Finding Free Photos Online

Do you ever check out a free stock photography site or two before heading for the main royalty-free and licensed websites like iStockphoto? I think it's well worth it. If you're looking for a photo of something why not see whether you can get it for free before paying for it?

I tend to have a quick whip round the 4 best free photo sites I know as a first port of call. You obviously shouldn't expect the same consistent level of quality as the paid for stock websites. But I've certainly used loads of stock photos for free over the years.

I want to share my 4 favourite places to get free online photos - or indeed share any pics from your portfolios with the world! Plus I'll provide a brief guide to using these cool resources.


Secrets of Stock Photography!

How does this guy sell so many stock photos...!?

how to sell photos


So What's My Favourite Free Stock Photography Site?


Well, by definition the proportion of quality images on free sites is smaller than on paid for ones. So I recommend finding a handful of reliable sources for free online photos. I've whittled my preferences down to 4. Here they are:



A good free stock photo site should be easy to use. It should make it clear what you are allowed to use images for and how to contact contributors/the site admin if you want to. Each of these succeeds in this regard.

They also offer tips, forums, blogs and so on, which is nice but they're not that great to be honest!


What Sort of Photos Will You Find?


What to expect? A mixed bag! The above 4 sites have decent quality control, considering you don't have to pay.

You'll find plenty of images that people have uploaded to royalty-free microstock websites that were rejected on a small technicality, so were uploaded to a free stock photography site instead. These are the best.

You will often get images that are a good starting point for what you need, and after a little editing will be up to the mark. I think this is probably the most common category.

You'll also find some throwaway snaps and some true garbage! Sadly, no shortage of these types either!


Sell Photos Without Lifting a Finger!

So you'd love to sell your photos... but can't really spare the time / don't know where to start!

How can Redbubble help you?

(Redbubble screenshot)


What Can You Use Free Online Photos For?


Downloading stock photos for free from the above sites is fantastic. But you must not forget that the copyright and moral rights to the images remain with the photographers and/or websites.

You get to use the pics - 100% free of charge - but you do not own the copyright. In other words, when you download free online photos you automatically assent to a license agreement, which is provided on each site.

It's important to read this agreement. But it's boring and this is broadly what it will say:


Why are Squarespace websites so good...?

Check out my review of this awesome hosting solution that combines cool looking templates with nice business features!

Have a nosey around Squarespace


Can You Edit Free Online Photos?


Absolutely! To be honest, getting stock photos for free often makes a bit of editing necessary! A bit of sharpening, clone stamping, contrast increasing and so on can go a long way with many free online photos.

You can actually edit pictures from a free stock photography site in any way you want. Even incorporate them as a small part of some design, or collage.

It's quite a good idea, in fact, to get hold of stock photos for free, specifically to practice your Photoshop skills on!


Can You Upload Your Own Photos to a Free Stock Photography Site!


Definitely! In fact, if you're going to be using other people's pictures for free, why not chip in with a contribution of your own? Find some shots on your computer that you don't mind sharing and giving away, and upload them.

It's actually quite fun to see how fast they go and how the comments stack up. I've had several people email me about using my pics as a source for their artwork, which when finished they then contact me about, providing a link to an image of it. Really satisfying!





Quotable Quote:

The picture is good or not from the moment it was caught in the camera.

- Henri Cartier-Bresson


Have Your Say and Share Your Photos

Which free stock photography site do you use the most? Share your suggestions and experiences.

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Photography Website Templates - Squarespace

Art Marketing Online

Guide to Stock Photo Websites

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