As a designer, it’s no doubt that you require free stock images on a regular basis. Whether you’re a graphic designer, a web designer or a user interface designer, photography is a mighty tool for capturing depth and emotion. And let’s not forget about big headers and hero images, which are oh-so-trendy!
We originally wrote this article way back in 2009, but since design trends have evolved, stock photography has gotten much less-cheesy, and the needs of designers have changed, we thought it’d be a smashing idea to update this article with some of the newer options that are available today.
Let’s take a look at 25 of the best free image sites in 2017.
With a focus on nature, Magdeleine tends to curate images that are dark but soft. Expect a lot of unsaturated tones, and an underlying ambience of loneliness. You can switch between a light and dark background, and also narrow down your search to show free CC0 images only (no attribution required whatsoever).
Royalty-free nature stock images, updated daily. They’re completely unedited, ready to be Photoshopped by you. Apply a filter/mood/ambience of your choosing. Hashtag #nofilter!
SplitShare might be the complete opposite of Magdeleine. Every image is bright, uplifting, colourful, and includes a variety of fully-edited stock images that you’d consider trendy today (MacBooks, double-exposure, etc). You’re really going to want to take a look at their Top Photos section!
New Old Stock is about black and white, vintage, sepia, and generally old or old-looking stock images — they’re curated from Flickr, so double-check the license before use to make sure they are in fact free to use!
With two new images every day, there’s always something to discover on FancyCrave. Plenty of categories, minimalist layout, a strong contender.
Skitterphoto has quite a large database of free stock images, so there’s no specific style or theme here, but I did notice that it’s a useful website for finding closeup shots of things. Many of the images have been edited in Photoshop already, so they look quite snazzy.
You’ve obviously heard of Unsplash, right? It’s pretty huge, with plenty of free stock images being added every day. They even have an API — if you’re a user of InVision’s Craft Plugin for Sketch or Photoshop, you might already know that you can insert images from Unsplash directly into your designs!
Realgraphy is probably the largest website dedicated to unedited stock photos — you won’t find a filter in sight. Ideal for serious designers.
Real Light is terrific for finding singular objects or posed shots worthy of an e-commerce site. Imagine your old-school stock photography website, but with a little less cheese!
Tip: many of the of the resources listed here can be found on Zoommy App, a desktop app that collects CC0 (Creative Commons Zero) and Public Domain images from over 50 sources! It’s really come in handy for me this last year!
A very popular website for business, startup and entrepreneur-themed stock images, however it isn’t updated often enough so many of the photos are overused. It’s a nice backup though!
12. Jay Mantri
Jay Mantri is known for its wonderful photography, however it’s updated at random, so unfortunately I couldn’t include it in the top 20. Definitely a resource you’ll want to bookmark though!
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