My preference is always to use original photos on any social media newsfeed or blog post, but sometimes it simply isn’t possible.
In a world that expects super fast content sharing, expertly arranged photos and virality on a constant basis, sometimes the only way you can get high quality content out into the world at speed is by supplementing original imagery with stock photos. But where are the legit free to use and, well, pretty stock photos lurking online?
I’ve compiled my ultimate list of stock image sites for biz owners and bloggers that I personally think are the best of the best. If they’re on this list, it’s because the images they host are awesome quality, legitimately useful, quick and easy to download and either free or 100% worth the subscription price.
Oh and one last thing before we get started: if you like any of the images featured in this blog post, please pop over and download them from the stock image site they’ve been taken from. You’ll get them at a higher quality there, as well as giving the photographer the page views they deserve.
Make sure you bookmark this post – you’re going to find it very useful…
By far and away one of my favourite stock image sites. Any of their pictures holding a CC0 license are free for use and don’t require attribution. As far as my own searches have proven so far, that’s most of them.
A stock photo site more focused on image technicalities – like lighting, tone and even featuring drone videos – which sends you weekly free photos via email before pushing you to join their premium service to really get the best of the site. The way this works makes free photo choices quite limited, but their paid service is utterly amazing if you’re searching for a set of photos that adhere to a particular theme.
All CC0 licensed and all photos available in a choice of sizes for quickest possible download and no double checking necessary.
The Unsorry Magazine‘s team go-to for free images. They always seem to have exactly what we need. The only thing to note is that their search system can be a little finicky, so have a few different terms to hand to find the stock image you want.
Claims to have a library of 73 million royalty-free stock photos, vectors and videos ready for you to browse… but not free. However their tired pricing system for access to all of these beautiful assets really is very reasonable considering the sheer amount of choice and quality of what’s on offer. The packages are priced as follows:
- 5 images per month – $25
- 10 images per month – $40
- 25 images per month – $75
- 50 images per month – $100
The ULTIMATE for beautiful, feminine flatlays favoured by bloggers everywhere – Haute Chocolate is not free, but it’s very easy to see why. Rachel has turned a photographic talent into a visual paradise (her Instagram is to die for), and many bloggers will happily shell out for stock images that are so good they can transform any digital channel and make it entirely your own. Get ready for dusky pinks and gorgeous golds that you can’t stop staring at.
Subscriptions can be paid bi-annually or annually and are pretty affordable at $125 and $225 respectively. However, if you sign up to Rachel’s email list you’ll get a free sample image each month.
Quite a few on here that cross-post from Unsplash, but some good extra ones in some collections that I haven’t found anywhere else too. A huge amount of free options with a premium version if you really fall in love with their stuff, starting at just $10 per month.
Not the most comprehensive stock image site I’ve ever seen, but a few gems on there that I haven’t seen pop up elsewhere yet. A rarely seen photo is always a good thing for stand out content!
Run by the peeps over at Snapwire (a brilliant community of aspiring photographers who want to join others on the journey to building their photography profile, and where members of the public can offer a certain amount of money for photographers to send images of exactly what they need), Snappier Snaps offers 7 new photos per week. Unique and beautiful, their library is worth searching through.
Not a searchable site, so visiting this one is left somewhat to chance as to whether you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for, but beautiful and well-curated photos even so.
Jay’s photos move right away from the feminine flatlays end endless arty coffee shots we’ve come to know and love. If you’re looking for imagery that’s either super gritty or delightfully tropical, this is the guy for you.
Definitely NOT your average stock image site – lots of quirky, avant-garde and downright odd images to be used for free here. Mostly of strangely dressed people or items entirely out of context. I kinda love it.
A specialist feed of vintage and historical photos lifted from public archives with no known license restrictions. One of a kind and really useful for the historic writers among you.
A new one on my radar – I like this one because it’s feminine without being too sickly-sweet, and has a range of really nice business and travel pics to boot. Perfect.
A few crossovers with other sites, but features some well-curated categories including free, editable mockups. Certainly worth a browse!
Heaven-sent for food bloggers who just couldn’t get the right shot (read: the sorbet melted before you’d adjusted the settings on your camera) – the Foodie Feed does exactly what it says on the tin. Pun totally intended.
Go straight to the Categories section and dive in – it’s the easiest way to find the best photos on this site which initially doesn’t look like it has much to it. You’ll soon discover honed down sub-categories that let you find exactly what you want in double quick time.
A few really lovely unique images that I haven’t seen anywhere else – always a plus when the internet is ripe with free stock images for bloggers and businesses everywhere to use.
A special CC0 licensed photo stream filled with spectacular travel photos.
And there we have it – my recommended, personally curated, ultimate list of stock image sites for any digital occasion. I really hope you find as much joy using them as I do – finding perfect images (original or stock!) is one of the absolute favourite parts of my job.