Free Photo sites - "The Monster List"

Getting images for free is great, and there is a lot of choice out there, but sourcing images from a free site can have its drawbacks, the license that the images are provided with is different on every site you use. Some sites prohibit commercial use of the image, most require an attribution, some require you register or signup to a newsletter to access the images, some ask that you seek permission first etc.

A word of warning: Expecting that nobody will notice if you make use of an image that you just take without permission is foolish, tools like TinEye make it free and easy to find who has used an image without permission, and stock agencies like Getty and others use paid services like picscout.com track image misuse, bill the offender, taking legal action if images are not removed. If you are using images without the correct license, someone will catch up with you sooner or later. Here's a typical forum quote "I currently have a demand from Getty images for $1200 over an image I hot-linked to in a blog entry 2 years ago."

With that in mind, here's our definitive list of resources providing free stock photos with a table of comparisons:

 
Commercial useCommercial Use Allowed
attribution linkAttribution Required
signup needed
Free Signup Required?

image resolution
Guide Resolution

number of images
Approx size of Collection
(v) = Varies ?=Approx/Guesstimate, Always confirm the license information before you use any image you find on a site listed here.

Dreamstime (free section) Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededYes image resolution2700px(v) number of images10,000(?)
Another commercial provider with free archive, special link to the free images at bottom right of their homepage.

123rf (free section) Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededNo image resolution400px(v) number of images32,000
10's of thousands of free images accessed via the "free stock images" link on the home page.

StockVault Commercial useNo attribution linkYes signup neededNo image resolution2000px(v) number of images20,000
Community of more than 3000 photographers sharing their photos, note: non commercial use only

Morguefile Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededNo image resolution3000px(v) number of images15,000?
Community of photographers sharing their photos, also contains a large selection of free work available under an attribution license. I rate this one highly.

SXC.hu (freeimages.com) Commercial useVaries attribution linkVaries signup neededYes image resolution1500px(v) number of images390,000
StockXchange, one of the first sites to 'share' stock photos, a range of licenses, some require attribution or permission, owned by getty images to promote their microstock site 'istockphoto'

freeimages (.co.uk) Commercial useYes attribution linkYes signup neededYes image resolution1000px(v) number of images15.000
easy browsing and instant download, variable image quality but some good pictures to be found, and a photographer upload area with growing collection of images.

greatvectors Commercial useYes attribution linkYes signup neededNo image resolutionVector number of images1000
well categorised collection of free vector background and design elements (eps vector graphic file)

freedigitalphotos.net Commercial useYes attribution linkYes signup neededNo image resolution400px(v) number of images5,000?
There's a catch - only the lowest web resolution images are free the rest cost $5

freepixels Commercial useYes attribution linkYes signup neededNo image resolution1600px(v) number of images4500
well rounded collection, good search and some really quite good stock and conceptual images on offer, resolution varies 1852x2200

rich & wild Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededNo image resolution3800px(v) number of images?
a free fortnightly feed of great looking photo creativity in your inbox

turbophoto.com Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededNo image resolution2000px(v) number of images2,000
A commercial stock site with 2000 rather average images, probably sourced from PD archives, not very exciting. web res download for free with paid commercial high reslution option

photogen Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededYes image resolution2000px(v) number of images1,200
small collection, good search and no link needed but registration required.

imageafter Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededNo image resolution1600px(v) number of images5-10,000?
The place to find textures and backgrounds, plus a selection of reasonable stock photos

imagebase.davidniblack.com Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededNo image resolution1600px+ number of images1600
high quality small collection, license is a little vague "treat as PD" or creative commons attribution if you like? lots of good people photos upto 3072x2048 and some nice powerpoint backgrounds

creepyhalloweenimages Commercial useYes attribution linkYes signup neededNo image resolution2000px(v) number of images100's
niche site with halloween theme stock images and clipart

freephotosbank Commercial useYes attribution linkYes signup neededNo image resolution2000px(v) number of images6000?
convenient navigation but somewhat low in quality images

freefoto.com Commercial useNo attribution linkYes signup neededYes image resolution1000px(v) number of images13000
you might want an ad blocker if you visit this long running, commercial ridden site, free for non commercial use

X freestockphotos.com Commercial useYes attribution linkYes signup neededNo image resolution800px(v) number of images1000
very limited selection, low resolution and images contain a stamp which must be left in place or replaced with a text credit

unprofound Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededNo image resolution1024px(v) number of images?
creative and unusual site full of artistic PD images organized and browsed by colour

adigitaldreamer/gallery Commercial use? attribution link? signup neededNo image resolution3000px number of images500
high resolution but limited range of images, no license details provided

studio25.ro Commercial use? attribution link? signup neededNo image resolution0px number of images?
site current broken, listed for reference

abstractinfluence.com Commercial use? attribution link? signup neededNo image resolution1800px(v) number of images4000
design forum and stock photo gallery, license unclear

amygdela.com/stock Commercial use? attribution link? signup neededNo image resolution1024px(v) number of images?
amygdela's atmosphere, free stock photos medium resolution, described as free stock photos but license is not detailed

pixelperfectdigital Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededNo image resolution2100px(v) number of images9000
contributed by a range of photographer, take care when navigation not to click on the paid dreamstime images displayed at the top of each page above the free gallery navigation

amgmedia.com/freephotos Commercial useYes attribution linkYes signup neededNo image resolution700px(v) number of images100?
painful navigation!, and very low resolution, you might find something for a web project here

free-photographs.net Commercial useNo attribution linkYes signup neededNo image resolution650px(v) number of images500?
limited range and poor quality also low resolution, only just scraped in to being listed.

imagetemple Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededNo image resolution3000px(v) number of images550
good quality free downloads, mostly nature related subjects

freelargephotos Commercial useNo attribution linkYes signup neededNo image resolution1200px(v) number of images2300
a good travel/scenic location based library, non commercial use only or buy a $50 commercial license

cepolina photo Commercial useYes attribution linkYes signup neededNo image resolution1024px number of images5800
great navigation via category, colour and geographic location. downloads in various sizes but the maximum is 1024 pixels

bigfoto.com Commercial useYes attribution linkYes signup neededNo image resolution1200px number of images500?
you need to browse this useful but small collection manually, attribution required but can be omitted if you pay a $5 license fee

photorack.net Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededNo image resolution640px(v) number of images27,000
massive collection (suspiciously so?), looks like it's no longer updated, and pitiful resolution of most of the photos makes for limited application - lack of search is also annoying

fromoldbooks.org Commercial useYes attribution linkYes signup neededNo image resolution1800px(v) number of images2500
collection of scanned illustrations from out of copyright books, organized by title

mayang's textures Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededNo image resolution2560px(v) number of images3800
Credit is welcomed, simple site with huge selection of textures and backgrounds of all kinds

designpacks Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededNo image resolution800px(v) number of images225
designpacks are zip downloads of 15 categorized images, lowish resolution but nicely thought out for web design or moodboard use

amazingtextures Commercial useNo attribution linkN/A signup neededYes image resolution1600px(v) number of images2000?
just when you thought the world did not need another texture site! these textures are repeating so they can easily be used in 3d rendering, free for personal use, $20 for commercial

aarinfreephoto Commercial useYes attribution linkYes signup neededNo image resolution504px number of images950
photos are watermarked and very low res, reasonable range of subjects

photos8 Commercial useYes attribution linkYes signup neededNo image resolution1800px number of images9000
If you can survive the horrible explosion of google ads and navigate your way through to download some good photos can be found here, mostly desktop wallpaper style subjects

freemediagoo.com Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededNo image resolution1200px number of images200?
some interesting 3d rendered images, audio, textures and flash animation

ancestryimages Commercial useNo attribution linkYes signup neededNo image resolution1600px(v) number of images16500
old scans of maps and books not for commercial use

oneodddude.net Commercial useNo attribution linkNo signup neededNo image resolution1024px(v) number of images150
link back attribution much appreciated, not a huge selection but nice range, images are watermarked

holylandphotos.org Commercial useNo attribution linkYes signup neededNo image resolution1600px(v) number of images1000's?
do check the terms, "in general 4 images can be used without permission" with a credit, images of the "holy land"

bajstock.com Commercial useYes attribution linkYes signup neededNo image resolution2800px(v) number of images2700
images from one photographer, some good conceptual images and locations in france, high resolutions but annoying popups!

DHD Multimedia Gallery Commercial useYes attribution linkYes signup neededNo image resolutionVaries number of images29000
very eclectic mix of images by various contributors, this site has been running for more than 15 years!

Cromavista Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededNo image resolution1024px(v) number of images100?
spanish site with various architectural, creative and location photos

imageblowout Commercial useYes attribution linkYes signup neededNo image resolution1280px(v) number of images260
small, non-searchable collection of zip downloads, not updated, some useful New York images

4freephotos.com Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededNo image resolution1600px(v) number of images1000
links are welcomed as are image contributions, selection typical of user generated content, variable quality but some users have contributed some good images also

paulbates.com Commercial useYes attribution linkYes signup neededNo image resolution1820px(v) number of images50?
small gallery from individual photographer, flowers, sunrises and sunsets, yawn

twicepix.net Commercial use? attribution link? signup neededNo image resolution4000px(v) number of images9000
german gallery (click sprache to select english language) lots of photos of berlin and nature subjects, images described as free but no license details.

X photorogue.com Commercial useVaries attribution linkVaries signup neededNo image resolution1200px(v) number of imagesSee note
free photo research, some creative free images and others sourced from various free photo libraries, request an image and see if they find anything!

textureking Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededNo image resolution1600px(v) number of images350
well edited collection of texture and backgrounds, nice site layout

freerangestock.com Commercial useYes attribution linkYes signup neededYes image resolution2400px(v) number of images10,000
more than 2000 images in their in house catalogue + thousands of other images contributed by users

cgtextures.com Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededYes image resolution?px(v) number of images?
texture and background image site, free accounts were not available for my review, but paid memberships were, conveniently, available for purchase....

photl.com Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededYes image resolution4362px number of images10,000+
amazing quality photos, you need to create an account to download the images, for free you can access 35mb of files per day (this limits you to 2 of the highest resolutions, or several of the smaller ones) The site states they have 250,000 images, but from the search results I find few matches leading me to believe this figure is perhaps false, there seems to be a slant towards food related subjects.

freewebphoto.com Commercial useYes attribution linkYes signup neededYes image resolution700px(v) number of images1000
registration required and 5 image download daily limit, good quality subjects lots of conceptual subjects covered which are also available for purchase if a higher resolution is needed or web use license without attribution, free for web use only

stickstock.com Commercial use? attribution link? signup neededNo image resolution1200px(v) number of images1000
some nice illustrations but no terms are listed, anyone can upload anything? could have the potential to be copyright infringement nightmare!

pachd.com Commercial useYes attribution linkYes signup neededNo image resolution1024px(v) number of images1500
some nice images of flowers, food, and travel locations, license for USD 1.99 if you don't want to include an attribution.

fontplay.com/freephotos Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededNo image resolution2624px(v) number of images5500
simply described as free photos with no further terms listed this site contains all sorts of interesting things

allfreeimages.net Commercial use? attribution link? signup neededYes image resolution2624px(v) number of images5500
no search, some useful conceptual stock subjects as well as the usual architecture and landscapes

X nationsillustrated.com Commercial useNo attribution link? signup neededYes image resolution2450px(v) number of images7700
somewhat vague when it comes to reuse terms - are these really free? good selection of images from all over the world uploaded by contributors, not for commercial use

sunipix.com Commercial useYes attribution linkYes signup neededNo image resolution600px(v) number of images1000?
mostly nature and location / landmark images plus a few concepts like biology and finance, only available at low resolution

X visipix.com Commercial useYes attribution linkYes signup neededNo image resolution1200px(v) number of images76,000?
lots of images in the photo gallery section, but where did they all come from? mostly landscapes but also paintings (mildly suspicions?)

texture bin 342 Commercial use? attribution link? signup neededNo image resolution800px(v) number of images1000?
seems be guestbookware (sign the guestbook) a trove of interesting textures grunge backgrounds

freestockphotos.biz Commercial useYes attribution linkVaries signup neededNo image resolution2400px(v) number of images11,000
large collection of categorised images, with additional collections of PD, Creative commons and other license types, main collection does not require attribution but link is appreciated.

rgbstock.com Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededYes image resolution3000px(v) number of images50,000
large collection of user contributed images, registration required for download

freeimagescollection.com Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededNo image resolution5184px(v) number of images250
small but glowing collection of images available in very high resolution, mostly flowers and nature subjects

splitshire Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededNo image resolution5214px(v) number of images1000?
trendy modern template but usability that someone should call the gui police about (the only way to get to search is to press page up?)

littlevisuals.co Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededNo image resolutionzip files number of images?
sadly no longer updated, an archive of existing images downloadable as zip files

unsplash.com Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededOpt image resolutionvaries number of images?
very stylish new imagery, useful for inspiration, 10 new images every 10 days - view at site or subscribe for new image - no search, also browse via www.resplashed.com

startupstockphotos.com Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededNo image resolution5010 number of images<100
stagnant - computers in trendy workspaces, nothing more, no search (tumblr base site)

magdeleine.co Commercial useVaries attribution linkVaries signup neededNo image resolutionVaries number of imagessmall
nicely curated collection of images, varying licenses (attribution and CC0) search, but limited pool of images to choose from

deathtothestockphoto.com Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededNo image resolutionLarge number of imagesLimited
great quality though provoking images delivered to your inbox each month - useful for inspiration only, no way to browse unless you take the paid premium option

picjumbo.com Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededNo image resolutionLarge number of images~1000s
growing collection of usable images with a basic search tool

getrefe.com Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededNo image resolution? number of images~?
mostly rubbish don't waste your time

snapwiresnaps.tumblr.com Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededNo image resolution? number of images~?
CC0 licensed image collection, and being on tumblr, completely unusable for more than browsing

jaymantri.com Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededNo image resolution? number of images~?
very nice images - re how useful: see above, you'll want to slit your own wrists after 5 minutes

isorepublic.com Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededNo image resolution? number of images~250
collection by various authors, some nice images, but limited collection and no search

stokpic.com Commercial useYes attribution linkNo signup neededOpt image resolutionvaries number of images~350
browse some of the images of subscribe for regular images delivered to your inbox

 

 

More Free Image Sites:
Our Creative Commons site directory (free use images with an attribution, simplified licenses)

NB: Always confirm the license details before you use the images, all of the sites listed here clearly display their terms of use which must be followed. Commercial use means that you can use the images in advertisements NOT that you can create products for sale using the images - This is possible but in almost all cases you will need to contact the provider or buy an 'extended license'

 

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Disadvantages of Free Sites

Although free sites are great, there is a good reason that most of the images on them are free, they are usually not up to the same quality as those on paid sites. They might be only be suitable for use as a small online images.

Just like with PD images it's often hard to find an image suitable for your needs unless your requirements are for simple non conceptual images like landscapes, flowers, nature or travel.

As a simpler and safer alternative you can look at microstock libraries (quality images, huge selection, easy search and priced from $1).

 

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Think we have missed a site from the list? then let us know, but be sure that it's not already listed in our PD image sites or Creative Commons free image sites directories.


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