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Photo Contest Insider Blog

10 Stunning Free Stock Images Sources

October 21, 2016

Whether you are putting together a creative photo manipulation or just need the perfect image to go along with your blog post, stock images can be a blessing. But they can also be expensive, especially if you are looking for high quality. Here are our picks for the 10 best sites out there offering free stock images at high quality and resolution.

One of the best quality stock sites out there, Unsplash is totally free to use. The entire catalogue of images is available for any kind of use you can imagine, commercial or not. The images are all carefully curated to match a certain aesthetic, with a dreamy quality and high resolution across the entire collection. A recent addition is collections, allowing you to browse by theme. You can also view by date added to the site as well as searching for keywords.

One of the big advantages of Pixabay is that it collects images from other sites, including Unsplash, so you can often find good results for search terms here. The wider library also includes graphics and text elements. Check the usage rights on each image to see how you are allowed to use them. It’s free to use the site but you do have to perform captcha tests on larger image downloads unless you sign in.

WikiMedia Commons

Looking for a free way to use images of celebrities or historic moments? WikiMedia Commons could be a good option, as all images here are free to use – although most also stipulate that you must credit the photographer. The quality of the photographs can vary, as anyone can submit their images – and most professional photographers would not add their work for free. There can be hidden gems, however.

The team at Death to Stock are enemies of the paid stock market, and deliver beautiful photographs to your inbox for free. They have a free sample pack on offer as well as the option to sign up for monthly email deliveries. If you feel like being generous, you can also purchase a premium membership, the proceeds of which are filtered back directly to the photographers.

This site is just for food photography, although the images could be relevant in other situations too (for example, as illustrations of cultural practices). Free monthly downloads and samples are on offer, although this is all designed to feed you into the premium subscription. It’s a good place to look when you want a very specific dish or type of food, especially if you have exhausted all other options.

Snappa is a graphics program, the enterprising creators of which realised that their users needed images to turn into designs. That’s why they launched StockSnap, a library of images which are all free to use. You will have to suffer through pop-ups about Snappa, but you can ignore these and continue to search and download. There are no restrictions on usage and no requirement for credit, with a lot of themes to browse through. You can also get weekly emails with free image collections if you wish.

Powered by ads along the sidebars, the site at Negative Space can (ironically) feel a little claustrophobic. But no matter – there is a wide collection of free images which can be used any way you like, and there is a particular dreamy quality here that is very enjoyable. Strong colour toning is the norm, with 20 new photos added to the collection every week.

Ryan McGuire is the one-man band behind Gratisography. This means that the library is not quite as broad as you would see on other stock sites, but it does give the photographs a particular character which really makes them stand out. McGuire has a flair for the quirky and fun, with his images often taking on a highly graphic look. There’s no attribution required, but anyone familiar with his work should be able to spot them in the wild anyway.

Creative commons images are free for use with no restrictions, and that is exactly what you will find at Life of Pix. An advertising agency powers the site behind the scenes, and they prefer documentary-style shots as well as locations. It’s pretty much exactly what you might need for a convincing advertising campaign. If your needs tend in this direction, this could be a one-stop shop for everything you are after. It’s a very unique selection, different to what you would find on any other stock site.

If you are looking to put together a fine art project such as a composite, then DeviantArt is the place to go. The library of stock photography here includes a vast number of free use images. However, you must always check the description: some artists prefer their work to be credited or only used for posts on the same site. The stock here includes just about every model pose, costume, and expression you could imagine. It covers the fantastical, art nude, commercial, and everything between. The images are perfect for creating art from scratch. Try using the unedited stock as backgrounds or cutting out people and objects to place onto your own photographs.

Finding your own stock favourites is a matter of taste, but all of these sites offer something truly special in the free use market!

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