25 Terrific Places to Find Free and Low-Cost Stock Photos Online

Posted April 14, 2022 | Laura Christianson

25 Terrific Places to Find Free and Low-Cost Stock Photos Online | BloggingBistro.com

This article is updated regularly to include the latest, greatest information.


When you visit a blog, what’s the first thing about a particular post that catches your attention?

Other than the article’s title, it’s probably the visuals that accompany the post.

Readers’ eyes are drawn to images, so it’s important to place a visual that illustrates your point into every blog post.

Readers are also creatures of habit, so place images in a consistent location, such as at the top of the post, or in the upper left or upper right area of each post. Wrap text around the image to create a clean, packaged look.

I’m forever on the hunt for free and inexpensive stock photos and illustrations to use on websites, blogs, marketing materials, and PowerPoint presentations. You can find oodles of high-quality, royalty-free stock photos and illustrations online.

One caveat:

Pictures you find via a Google image search are almost always copyrighted. You CANNOT use those images in your blog post unless you first receive written permission from the person who took the photo.

Never assume that because you find an image via a search, it’s free for the taking. To be on the safe side, use a photo you snap yourself or download an image from one of the following stock photo services.

Each service functions slightly differently — some require a photo attribution, link, or byline and others don’t.  Make sure you carefully read and follow the terms of service before downloading an image.

Free Stock Images

Kaboompics – A popular source of free images for lifestyle, interior design, and specialized bloggers. I love that you can search for images by color, and when you select a photo to download, the image’s color palette, complete with HEX color codes, is generated.

25 Terrific Places to Find Free and Low-Cost Stock Photos Online

morguefile – When I shared the name of this service with a client, she responded, “Oooh, creepy!”

She was thinking that a “morgue” is the place dead bodies are kept. Which is true.

However, the traditional meaning of the word “morgue” is “a reference file in a newspaper or magazine office.” The “morgue” in a newspaper office is where the old photos and print editions are stored (at least, they used to be until everything went digital). Anyway, morguefile has an eclectic selection of free images.

Yellow flower with bee, via Morguefile

FreeDigitalPhotos.net – A nice range of photos and illustrations for use on websites, advertising materials, newspapers, magazines, ebooks, book covers and pages, music artwork, software applications, etc.

FreeImages – I’ve used this service for years and can almost always find what I’m looking for there.

Coffee cup reflected on table, via Freeimages.com

freepik – Recommended by a friend, this service offers free vectors, stock photos, PSDs, and icons. Excellent array of tools for filtering the type of image you’re searching for. You have to attribute free photos you use, as I did in the caption below this photo. They also offer monthly and yearly premium plans.

Flickr Creative Commons – You can’t use just any Flickr photo, but you can use images from users who offer their work under the Creative Commons license.

Google Creative Commons – Use Google’s Advanced Image Search to find images, videos, and text you can reuse, share, or modify. Keep in mind that you can’t use just any old photo you find in a Google search on your site – it HAS to be one that is labeled for reuse, commercial reuse, and/or modification. Google says, “In addition to images labeled as being under the Creative Commons license or in the public domain, the usage rights filter on this page also shows you images labeled with the GNU Free Documentation license.”

Gratisography – These whimsical, artistic images might be just the thing you need for a more inspirational post.

Strange scientist via Gratisography

Strange scientist, via Gratisography

Library Of Congress All sorts of interesting photographs and prints are available for download. “The quality of the digital images varies greatly, depending upon when and from what source the digitizing was done.”

The Metropolitan Museum of Art – In 2014, The Met announced, “More than 400,000 high-resolution digital images of public domain works in the Museum’s world-renowned collection may be downloaded directly from the Museum’s website for non-commercial use.” Filter your search by “Open Access” and look for the download icon below the image, which means the image is free to download.

The Monet Family in Their Garden at Argenteuil, by Édouard Manet, 1874, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Monet Family in Their Garden at Argenteuil, by Édouard Manet, 1874, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Pexels – Touts itself as “the world’s first inclusive free stock photo and video library.” I use their pictures a lot; even their posed people pictures tend to have a fun, candid feel.

25 Terrific Places to Find Free and Low-Cost Stock Photos Online

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Pixabay – With its user-friendly interface, Pixabay is a repository for copyright-free images and videos. All content released under the Pixabay license are safe to use without asking for permission or giving credit to the artist — even   for commercial purposes.

Picjumbo – More than 3,000 high-resolution free stock photos and backgrounds for personal and commercial use. They also offer Premium plans.

Nockalm Road in Austria, via Picjumbo. Photo by Viktor Hanacek

Nockalm Road in Austria, via Picjumbo. Photo by Viktor Hanacek

RGBStock – More than 100,000 free stock photos and graphics for personal and commercial use. If you wish to use an image outside of the terms and licenses specified on RGBStock (for example, to print an image on something you’re going to sell), you can easily contact the image author through the site and ask for permission.

StockPhotos.io – A reader recommendation, this service offers free, high-quality, high-resolution public domain and Creative Commons licensed photos. Currently, they have around 27,000 images. You can use the photos for commercial use as long as you give proper credit to the author/photographer.

stockvault Free photos are for personal, educational and non-commercial use only.

Unsplash – One of the most popular sources for freely-usable images for commercial and non-commercial purposes.

Low-Cost Stock Images

dreamstime – 137 million stock photos with a 1-week, 10-image free trial. They also offer a free (Creative Commons) image of the week, such as this one:

Free image of the week from Dreamstime.

123rf.com – One of the lowest-cost stock photo houses, they offer on-demand credits packs and various monthly and annual subscription plans.

Adobe Stock– Adobe’s monthly plans (and a free 1-month trial), work out to around $3.00 per image, which is a good price. They also sell credit packs for any content, with the best deals on credit packs for Video, Premium, and Extended Licenses

Canva (affiliate link) – You’re probably familiar with Canva as graphic design software. However, Canva also includes millions of stock photos, vectors, and illustrations, many of which are free. With a Canva Pro account (which includes a free trial), you can get access to 60+ million premium stock images, photos, videos and graphics. Plus, they have a fantastic selection of easy-to-customize templates for everything from social media posts to business cards, presentations, storyboards — even Zoom backgrounds.

Woman holding burning candle, via Canva

depositphotos – A library of 167 million royalty-free stock images, high-definition footage, and thematic collections. Three plans to choose from: Subscription, Flexible Plan, and On-Demand.

EnvatoMarket – Buy and sell royalty-free photographs and images starting at $2. Items are priced on the size/megapixels of each file.

iStock by Getty Images – iStock’s pricing has soared recently, but if you use a lot of stock images, their library of high-resolution stock photography, clip art, vector illustrations, video footage and music is almost 10 million strong.

Bicyclists in snow via iStock

JumpStory – a Denmark-based service that claims their 25 million photos, illustrations, videos, backgrounds, vectors, and icons are “authentic and real.” Free 14-day trial; monthly and yearly plans.

Pressfoto – Photos, vectors, clipart and video from around the world. Monthly subscriptions and on-demand downloads.

shutterstock – Access to over 321 million images and video clips, with 127,000 new images added every day.

5 hints for using stock images on your blog

5 hints for using stock images on your blog

Photo by Marco Xu on Unsplash

1. Set up an account with one or more stock photo services and log in to your account.

2. Search images by keyword. When you find one you like, carefully read the licensing agreement before purchasing and/or downloading the image.

3. Before downloading, choose which size image you need for your project. Many stock photo services give you the option of choosing from among several different sizes. If you’re using the image in a blog post, a medium-size photo will probably do the trick.

4. If you do download a large image, use photo-editing software to adjust the size to whatever is optimal for your blog. A handy online image resizer I use often is Imageresizer.com.

5. After inserting a visual into your post, preview it before publishing to ensure that the graphic isn’t too large or too small. Images shouldn’t be so large that they dominate the post (unless, of course, the post features the image or a video).

On the other hand, images shouldn’t be postage-stamp small.

If people have to use a magnifying glass (or reading glasses) to see your photo, it’s too small. Better to use no image at all than one that is too small.

Invest the time to carefully select and edit an image that will enhance your story. Images will help visitors to your site remember you longer and connect with you more deeply.

For no-brainer graphic design, I love Stencil (aff link), which I used to quickly resize all the photos in this post, and Canva (aff link).

FREE! Pre-Publication To-Do List

Blog Post Pre-Publication Checklist | BloggingBistro.com

Adding graphics to blog posts is absolutely essential. We make emotional connections with images, plus we remember content better when images and videos accompany the text.

My free Blog Post Pre-Publication Checklist includes everything you need to do (including uploading a graphic) before hitting “publish” on your next post.

YES! I NEED THIS

Share Your Favorite Stock Photo Resources

Please share links to stock photo sites you like so we can try them out.

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55 responses to “25 Terrific Places to Find Free and Low-Cost Stock Photos Online”

  1. Agreed about http://www.sxc.hu/ I often find great stuff for my site http://www.handyguyspodcast.com/ Our logo came from Dreamstime. I will check out the others. thanks for the post.

  2. Agreed about http://www.sxc.hu/ I often find great stuff for my site http://www.handyguyspodcast.com/ Our logo came from Dreamstime. I will check out the others. thanks for the post.

  3. Suetornai says:

    I use http://www.plusimage.com and really like it.

  4. Suetornai says:

    I use http://www.plusimage.com and really like it.

  5. Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life says:

    Thanks for sharing these links.  It’s always great to have more places to look for great images.

  6. Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life says:

    Thanks for sharing these links.  It’s always great to have more places to look for great images.

  7. Elizabeth M Thompson says:

    Finding just the right image can be a challenge. Thanks for sharing these resources. Some of them are new to me.

  8. Elizabeth M Thompson says:

    Finding just the right image can be a challenge. Thanks for sharing these resources. Some of them are new to me.

  9. Marcia says:

    Great info, thanks so much. :)Marcia

  10. Marcia says:

    Great info, thanks so much. :)Marcia

  11. Bonnie Rose Hudson says:

    Thank you for the information–I’ve been struggling with finding good images I can afford and am trying to improve my blog and website. I am looking forward to checking them out.

  12. Bonnie Rose Hudson says:

    Thank you for the information–I’ve been struggling with finding good images I can afford and am trying to improve my blog and website. I am looking forward to checking them out.

  13. Pat Baer says:

    Thanks for the tips and suggestions. The sites I visited all charged a fee (or credits) for their images. How much should we expect to pay per image?

  14. Pat Baer says:

    Thanks for the tips and suggestions. The sites I visited all charged a fee (or credits) for their images. How much should we expect to pay per image?

  15. Sue Tornai says:

    Thank you for the great info. You included the ones I’ve used and a bunch more. I appreciate this!!

  16. Sue Tornai says:

    Thank you for the great info. You included the ones I’ve used and a bunch more. I appreciate this!!

  17. Sue,

    Yes, I believe I added one of the sites you recommended to me some time ago — plusimage.com.

  18. Sue,

    Yes, I believe I added one of the sites you recommended to me some time ago — plusimage.com.

  19. Pat – The free sites on this list are free, although many of these sites have a connection to (or are a subsidiary of) a paid site. If that’s the case, you’ll usually see a “free” section and a “premium” (paid) section.

    Prices vary widely, but currently, you can often get the smallest size image for anywhere from $3-$10. The larger the “credit pack” you buy, the less you pay per credit. At istockphoto.com, for instance, I buy 30 credits for $50, which comes out to $1.67/credit. Their small size photos generally “cost” 1-5 credits.

    Each service has a different pricing structure, so I recommend surfing several services, narrowing it down to two or three that have a great selection of images for your topic/industry, and buying credit packs or setting up a monthly subscription with a couple different services.

  20. Bonnie – Let me know which service(s) you like best after you’ve had a chance to check them out.

  21. Pat – The free sites on this list are free, although many of these sites have a connection to (or are a subsidiary of) a paid site. If that’s the case, you’ll usually see a “free” section and a “premium” (paid) section.

    Prices vary widely, but currently, you can often get the smallest size image for anywhere from $3-$10. The larger the “credit pack” you buy, the less you pay per credit. At istockphoto.com, for instance, I buy 30 credits for $50, which comes out to $1.67/credit. Their small size photos generally “cost” 1-5 credits.

    Each service has a different pricing structure, so I recommend surfing several services, narrowing it down to two or three that have a great selection of images for your topic/industry, and buying credit packs or setting up a monthly subscription with a couple different services.

  22. Bonnie – Let me know which service(s) you like best after you’ve had a chance to check them out.

  23. Pat Baer says:

    Thanks so much. You were very helpful, as always. I really appreciate your blog.

  24. Pat Baer says:

    Thanks so much. You were very helpful, as always. I really appreciate your blog.

  25. Jayden Chu says:

    Thanks for this helpful post. I’ll be able to use some of the photos for my blog image header. I was about to search for this today, this post was a perfect reminder. 🙂

  26. Jayden Chu says:

    Thanks for this helpful post. I’ll be able to use some of the photos for my blog image header. I was about to search for this today, this post was a perfect reminder. 🙂

  27. Jayden – I’m glad my post showed up int he nick of time for you.

  28. Jayden – I’m glad my post showed up int he nick of time for you.

  29. Jayden Chu says:

    Sure it does. 🙂

  30. Jayden Chu says:

    Sure it does. 🙂

  31. Eric says:

    I’m all about the free websites. Here’s another one: stockpholio.com

  32. Eric says:

    I’m all about the free websites. Here’s another one: stockpholio.com

  33. Marveller says:

    Here is another community free stock photos sharing site with Pinterest like layout:
    http://stockphotos.io

  34. Marveller says:

    Here is another community free stock photos sharing site with Pinterest like layout:
    http://stockphotos.io

  35. Thanks for the link — always good to have another free stock photo service to add to the arsenal!

  36. Thanks for the link — always good to have another free stock photo service to add to the arsenal!

  37. Patty says:

    Thank you! Great information, much appreciated.

  38. Patty says:

    Thank you! Great information, much appreciated.

  39. Sophie SBH says:

    This is a great feature! We did a comparison of some stock photo sites – less sites but a bit more detail about the ones we looked at, if anyone wants to look into specific sites further. But this feature is definitely a brilliant starting point and I’ll be referring to it again!
    http://www.smallbusinessheroes.co.uk/small-business-advice/comparison-best-stock-photo-websites-small-business/

  40. Sophie SBH says:

    This is a great feature! We did a comparison of some stock photo sites – less sites but a bit more detail about the ones we looked at, if anyone wants to look into specific sites further. But this feature is definitely a brilliant starting point and I’ll be referring to it again!
    http://www.smallbusinessheroes.co.uk/small-business-advice/comparison-best-stock-photo-websites-small-business/

  41. Hi, Check out http://www.goodfreephotos.com from public domain images of beautiful landscapes from parks and landmarks

  42. Hi, Check out http://www.goodfreephotos.com from public domain images of beautiful landscapes from parks and landmarks

  43. mags says:

    u can check photogenica.eu 🙂

  44. mags says:

    u can check photogenica.eu 🙂

  45. Does Photogenica’s pricing translate into USD or CAD?

  46. Does Photogenica’s pricing translate into USD or CAD?

  47. simonjesterus says:

    I’ve been using sites like sxc.hu. However, if you read their terms of use, they make no guarantee that the images they offer are truly free to use. You use them at your own risk. Are there any sources anyone knows of that don’t have this problem? Other than paid sites? Thanks!

  48. simonjesterus says:

    I’ve been using sites like sxc.hu. However, if you read their terms of use, they make no guarantee that the images they offer are truly free to use. You use them at your own risk. Are there any sources anyone knows of that don’t have this problem? Other than paid sites? Thanks!

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