None of us at Creative Boom could anticipate the demand for free, non-cheesy stock photography, but when we unleashed 10 recommended stock sites in early 2015, we were bombarded by record visitors.
Two years later, and we thought it was about time we reassessed things to see if any fresh sites have popped up that we can suggest to you. After much research and deliberation, here are 20 of the latest websites for all your non-cheesy stock photography needs, and all of them are free.
Please note, many of these websites have 'premium' options where you pay for stock photographs and that is why they're able to offer free images. In other cases, you might find a lone photographer giving away their work for free to help boost their reputation, and therefore benefit from a raised profile. No matter what, always check whether you have to give credit.
1. Death to the Stock Photo
As far as we're concerned, Death to the Stock Photo is still one of the best stock sites for images that avoid the usual cliché and suit our creative lifestyles. With free photographs up for grabs each month, you'll have plenty to choose from without paying a penny. But if you want access to their entire library, then you have to go 'premium' and pay a small monthly fee.
Calling itself your number one source for beautiful free stock photos, Stocksnap offers hundreds of high resolution images, added weekly. And not a whiff of cheese either.
In the course of almost 10 years of photography, founder Daniel Nanescu of SplitShire accumulated many images that were simply gathering dust. So he began to upload the first 100 high-resolution photos that you can freely download and use for personal and/or commercial purposes. Today, the stock site hosts thousands of quality images, all just waiting for you to download and use.
4. New Old Stock
With an unusual but delightful twist, this stock photography site offers vintage images from the public archives that are free of known copyright restrictions. Might be worth a look for those projects that require something different?
Yes, we know that people are tired of cheesy stock photos. Instead they want emotionally-driven images that tell a story. That's why FancyCrave spends each day handpicking and giving away two free authentic photos from real people. Each image is licensed under CC0, which means you can use them commercially for free. Happy downloading!
LibreShot.com (formerly freepix.eu) is a project that contains free stock photos for private and commercial use. All photos and the whole website are made by Martin Vorel, a very generous soul who allows you to use his photographs without attribution. But please do add a link to his site, if you're able to help spread the word.
All photos on Skitterphoto.com are released into the public domain using Creative Commons CC0. This means you can use their photos for any purpose, even commercially. A credit is appreciated but not necessary. All pictures are authentic and created by Skitterphoto owners, they are not from other websites. A chronological archive of their pictures can be found here.
Kaboompics is a collection of high quality photos offered for free to bloggers, website owners, small businesses, freelancers and social media ninjas. This simple website gives you an opportunity to browse through thousands of pictures without any payment even for commercial use.
9. Startup Stock Photos
For all those startups out there, this site is for you. Offering free stock imagery that you can use for any purpose, Startup Stock Photos even allows you to contribute and add your own free pictures.
Created by Viktor, a web designer who understands the requirement of decent stock photography, PicJumbo offers full quality photos for free. An attribution is appreciated but not necessary.
Gratisography provides free high resolution pictures you can use for your personal and commercial projects. All pictures have been taken by Ryan McGuire and are free of copyright restrictions.
Generous photographer Ed Gregory believes that not everyone can afford to spend money on stock photos. So he decided to launch Stokpic and offer his own high resolution images for free. Available for commercial use, you can search his archives or sign up to receive 10 new photos sent via email every fortnight.
13. Negative Space
All the photos and raw files on Negative Space are distributed under the CC0 Creative Commons licence. This means that you can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission or providing attribution.
Described as the website with the ‘best free stock photos in one place’, Pexels adds five new high quality photos daily.
15. Jay Mantri
Quite simply, talented photographer Jay Mantri is giving you free pictures that you can do anything with. His appealing images vary from street scenes to abstract close-ups, and you'll find his contemporary style might suit when you're looking for something a little more interesting and special.
16. Life of Pix
Life of Pix offers high resolution photos with no copyright restrictions. Added weekly, all images are donated to the public domain, courtesy of Leeroy, an advertising agency in Montreal and its trusted network of photographers.
Another great little website, Unsplash adds 10 new photos every 10 days. And those pictures are really quite wonderful. From fantastic portraits to architectural imagery, this will become an essential bookmarked site.
Free for commercial use, these wonderful photographs by Jeffrey Betts won't disappoint. A user interface and experience designer in New York, Jeffrey generously allows you to download and use his images without giving any attribution. Enjoy.
Pixabay gives you free images and videos you can use anywhere. All assets are released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0. You can download, modify, distribute, and use them royalty-free for anything you like, even for commercial purposes. Attribution is definitely not required.
20. ISO Republic
With a mission to provide free stock photos for creatives, ISO Republic is a fantastic site to add to your bookmarks. Founded in 2014 by Tom Eversley, a designer and photographer from England, and the main contributor to this website. Since launch he's published over a thousand free images, with more being added on a daily basis.
Main image: Courtesy of Adobe Stock