17 Beautiful Sites with Amazing Free Stock Photos

amanda sandlin boots
Amanda Sandlin

If you’re looking for beautiful stock photos, dealing with licenses is just a headache and is often ignored. We’ve combed through an amazing list of free stock photo sites to find the best ones possible. We’ve clearly noted which licenses are required for each site if any.

The biggest question I’ve always wondered is – what the hell is commercial use? Commercial use means you can use it on your ecommerce site, or for selling prints, or plastering it on your car if it comes to that. Whatever you wanna do – commercial use is liberating.

Here are the sites, broken down into two sections.

Part 1: Worry-Free Do What You Want Photos

This is the ultimate freedom. Remember when you used to Google search the photo you wanted and just use it with no care in the world? Well you can do that with these photos and you’re guaranteed to not run into any legal trouble. If you want some good karma, do something good for these photographers though.


1. Unsplash

10 new photos every 10 days. Enough said. Get on their email list so you don’t miss the fresh beauties as they are birthed.

Subscription Option: Yes

License: Creative Commons Zero (Unsplash)

unsplash stock photo


2. Picography

This is a small collection of photos, but excellent. Their motto is “Free hi-resolution photos. Use them however you like.”

Subscription Option: Yes

License: Creative Commons Zero

stock photo from picography


3. Gratisography

Gratisography is a unique collection of pictures that are like hipster versions of stock photos. The site states “All pictures were captured by Ryan McGuire of Bells Design and free of copyright restrictions.” If you still want some of the expressive shots of people’s faces that many stock photo sites offer, this is a good upgrade.

Subscription Option: No

License: Free of copyright restrictions.

3. Gratisography


4. Splitshire

Splishire photos are made with love in Italy by a graphic designer who was looking for unique photos in their graphic design work and frustrated with the availability of free stock photos. The photos cover a wide range of subjects from classic books, to landscapes and interesting people on the streets.

Subscription Option: Yes

License: No copyright restrictions

4.SplitShire-Ceresole Reale


5. Little Visuals

Little Visuals gives you “7 hi-res images zipped up in your inbox every 7 days.” The photos are also conveniently available as zip downloads in packs of seven photos from previous weeks.

Subscription Option: Yes

License: Creative commons public domain dedication.

5-Little Visuals


6. Magdeleine

Magdeleine is a curated showcase of photographer submitted photos offering “a free high-resolution photo every day.” I like that there is a range of photographers, so a range of styles in all of the photos.

Subscription Option: Yes

License: Both CC0 -Public Domain & Attribution required (filterable).



7. Picjumbo

Picjumbo offer “totally free pictures for your personal and commercial works.” Created by a web designer trying to solve his own picture problems, it’s another great resource for free stock photos. They offer a premium version as well for quicker access to photos.

Subscription Option: Yes

License: Free for commercial use.

7-Picjumbo-Girl_Nail_Art_Design-Viktor Hanacek


8. Pixabay

Pixabay has over 270,000 public domain design assets, not only stock photos. They state on their site that “you can use any Pixabay image without attribution in digital and printed form, even for commercial applications.” They have a huge volume of photos and should be your first stop before you ever visit a paid photo site.

Subscription Option: Yes

License: Creative Commons Deed CC0.



9. Snapographic

Snapographic has some of the most artistically beautiful free stock photos I’ve seen so far across a range of categories. My only complaint is that it’s a bit difficult to navigate as only a few photos are shown at once. If you can deal with that though, you can find some amazing photos.

Subscription Option: Yes

License: Free of copyright restrictions.



10. New Old Stock

New Old Stock captures my heart in a vintage way. The site is full of “vintage photos from the public archives.” All photos are free of known copyright restrictions. When you need to add a vintage touch to your creations, come here first.

Subscription Option: No

License: Free of known copyright restrictions



11. Life Of Pix

All Life of Pix photos are free of copyright and attribution restrictions, which is awesome because you’re going to want to use these photos in all of your projects. The photos are abstract enough to be used universally, but also look natural and handmade. They don’t look anything like commercial stock photos, which is a great thing.

Subscription Option: No

License: Free for personal & commercial use .No copyrights restrictions.

11_Life-of-pix--forest-autumn-meadow-by leroy


12. Getrefe

Based on their quality, it’s amazing to think that the photos on Getrefe are taken on a mobile phone. Many of theme are taken in picturesque cities that would be perfect for a travel site or as a background for your projects. For photos taken from a mobile traveler perspective, Getrefe is your spot.

Subscription Option: No

License: Free for  personal or commercial  use.

Processed with VSCOcam with f1 preset


Part 2: Free to Use But Attribution Required

These very nice people are sharing their photos with you to go make a bunch of mouse pads with, and all they ask is for some attribution by linking or adding them as the source.


13. Death to the Stock Photo

For most anything you want to do, you can use a photo from Death to the Stock photo. They DO NOT require attribution, but you can’t sublicense the images, pass them off as your own, or use them for illicit purposes. So don’t be a dirty dog an you’ll be alright.

Subscription Option: Yes

License: Death to the Stock Photo custom license

13-Death to the Stock Photo


14. Fotogrph

Fotogrph requires attribution, but is a great resource for specific stock photos. The site specializes in closeup photos of animals, plants, objects and buildings. Then there’s close up shots of objects like cardboard and concrete and water ripples that can be used as textures in your projects.

Subscription Option: No

License: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License



15. Startup Stock Photos

I know my startups out there are going to love this resource. Scrappy startups don’t have the funds to shell out big bucks to the big corporate stock photo farms, but this site has them covered. It’s a newer site so the archives only date back to March 2014, but the photos are getting better every month.

Subscription Option: Yes(RSS)

License: Creative Commons 4.0 Attribution

15-Startup Stock photos


16. Superfamous

Los Angeles-based Dutch designer Folkert Gorter brings us a jaw-dropping collection of free stock photos. With a heavy emphasis on aerial and geological shots, you won’t find free photos like this anywhere else. There seems to be a heavy California influence of majestic mountain and ocean scenery, but these photos can be used in worldwide creations. Definitely a hidden gem.

Subscription Option: No

License: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0



17. Splashbase

I’m sorry, I should have told you about this earlier. Splashbase aggregates photos from several sources like: travelcoffeebookstartupstockphotoslittlevisualsgratisographygetrefejaymantrisuperfamousunsplashmazwai. They have stock video as well, and I’ve already spotted a few amazing video that I want to use in projects. If you need to find specific subjects quickly, I would start here instead to search multiple sites at once. You’ll need to check the license of each photo to determine whether you have to give attribution or not, but all the photos here are top notch.

Subscription Option: No

License: Creative Commons Zero or Attribution Required



What do these licenses mean?

Creative Commons Zero:

The person who associated a work with this deed has dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.

You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0:

You are free to:

  • Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
  • Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the materialfor any purpose, even commercially. The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms.

Under the following terms:

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0:

This version of Creative Commons is the same as Creative Commons Attribution 3.0, but as an international license. Attribution 3.0 is focused on local license, while 4.0 is a more robust international license.

For more differences between 3.0 and 4.0 see this breakdown.


Have a site to add?

Add your recommendations in the comments below and we’ll consider adding your site to this list if it looks good.