Stock photography has something of a bad rap – it tends to be quite cheesy and you usually have to fork out for a costly subscription fee. Thanks to talented and generous photographers, there are thousands of stunning photos in the public domain. Check out my five favourite stock photography sites below.

1. Unsplash

Unsplash offers an awesome collection of beautiful photos donated by skilled photographers, and has been used to create some incredible work. There are fewer images than you’ll find on other stock sites but the quality is more consistent.

The search tool is the quickest way to find an image, but if you have a little time on your hands, check out Collections – groups of photos sorted by other users into themes. You can create your own collections after signing up for an account. They’re ideal for inspiration or gathering resources for a project.

It’s not necessary to credit the photographer, but Unsplash notes that it’s nice to add a simple credit with a link back to their profile as a courtesy.

2. Pexels

These photos are carefully selected from a variety of free image sources to ensure that you’re getting only the best of the best. Pexels currently cover over 30,000 free stock photos and every month at least 3,000 new high-resolution photos are added.

Pexels is a particularly good choice for designers, with an excellent set of device images that are ideal for displaying interface mockups.

The site also features a unique category dedicated to space photography, which looks amazing, but bear in mind that some of the material is from NASA – one of the organisations whose images should only be used in specific contexts.

3. StockSnap

StockSnap has a large selection of beautiful free stock photos and high-resolution images. The site has a great search feature making it easy to browse through the thousands of images available and also usefully tracks views and downloads so you can find the most popular photos available.

StockSnap proudly claims that they are “not your typical crappy stock photo site”, and they are spot on with this statement. In fact, its selection is so interesting and versatile that it’s almost too easy to get carried away and succumb to fifty-something scrolls.

4. Pixabay

Pixabay is packed with well over a million public domain images – photos, but also illustrations, vector graphics, and even a handful of videos. Its selection of landscape photography is particularly strong and the Editor’s Choice is well worth checking out.

The site is clean and intuitive, making it easy to navigate and features a search bar that allows you to filter your query down by factors such as media type, orientation, color and minimum dimensions.

Once you’ve found a suitable picture, you are able to choose an appropriate resolution depending on if your requirements are for print or web.

5. Gratisography

A collection of fun and surreal photos that provide a breath of fresh air if you’re looking for something a bit quirkier. Most of the photos have a surreal edge, and are brilliant if you’re sick of dull stock photo clichés.

Gratisography doesn’t offer as much content as some other free stock photo sites, but the vast amount of creativity makes up for that, and new images are added every week.


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