Yes, even pros need to rely on stock photography every once in a while. But for us advanced amateurs looking to squeeze every nickel until Jefferson screams, free stock photo sites are the way to go. UPDATED!
If you need to lean on stock photography to fill a gap you have in a project — such as a website, presentation, or marketing collateral — there are a lot of expensive options out there. Even the sites that claim to be cheap are often more than $1000 a year, or they charge high fees per image. And there are many that claim to be free that either have very few useful images or only have a few free images and the rest are big bucks. But here are some free stock photo sites that are both actually free and actually good.
SwagPix.com has loads of useful images across a variety of subject and keyword categories. The UI is easy to navigate, and there are no burdensome registration hoops to jump though. Just create an account (takes maybe 30 seconds) and you’re cleared to download as many high-resolution images as you want. The level of quality of the photos is generally outstanding, and there is no shortage of cool / arty images (lots of super-blur bokeh, etc).
SwagPix appears to be some kind of stock image aggregator that pulls from multiple stock sites that allow for image reuse and redistribution, as well as having its own catalog of images that users can upload. All images are distributed with the CC0 copyright designation (dedicated to the public domain).
Pixabay.com is another great free stock photo site with more than 1 million images available. A lot of the comments I made above also apply here. It’s really free, the quality of photos is excellent, and all images are free to use for personal and business applications. You can also upload your own photos so that others can use them in their projects for free. Sharing your work is a great way to give back to a great free resource, and you can also track the use of your art via a reverse-image search.
Unsplash.com has a very nice array of exceptionally high-quality stock images that are totally free to use. The 300,000+ images are sorted into categories / collections, with a and you also have the ability to upload your work for other people to use. Nothing is more fun that discovering one of your photos is the main banner on a small business website or was used by a non-profit to help promote their cause. This site has really artsy stuff; it’s top notch.
It’s free, so how can you complain? If you find yourself in need of an image that you can’t easily shoot yourself, a free stock photo site such as those listed above can save the day.
Have you found a great free stock photo site not listed above? Let me know about it and I’ll add it to the list! Send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org