The 4 Flyest Websites to Find Beautiful, Free Stock Photos

When it comes to bringing your message across for your project, there is almost no better way to say it than in a picture. But where to find good photos without having to pay a fortune for them?

Simply stealing them from others is illegal (not to mention unfair!) and will cost more than buying them. But, you say, free images are usually of low quality. To kill two birds with one stone, we want to show you a collection of platforms with free AND beautiful imagery for your project.

CC0 License: Free Like a Bird

It may come as a surprise, but there are quite a number of websites out there which offer free images with almost no copyright limitations. These pics are under Creative Commons Zero (CC0) / Public Domain. This makes it much easier for you to embed pictures in your website, since you don’t have to read all the terms and conditions for every single photo. However, the photographers are real people and it costs time (and money) to present their work to you. That’s why you should consider a small donation (most websites have a “coffee” button where you can treat the artists to a coffee) or give voluntary credits on your website with backlinks to the picture.

One Swallow Doesn’t Make a Summer

Even if all of the pictures in this collection are CC0/Public Domain, we want to advise you about the different licenses. Lots of photos on the Web are free, but have licenses that require you to credit the photographer or designer if you want to publish and change the images for personal or commercial use. Each website gives you detailed instructions on exactly what to do in return for using the photos. The websites we compiled for you don’t require attribution or money, though – they’re stuffed with completely free stock photos. Nevertheless, to give back some good karma, we highly recommend including at least a backlink to the website or the photographer.

Our top 4 websites for the best free stock photos available

No one likes endless scrolling. We want fast results because we know exactly what we’re looking for. That’s why we’ve compiled only websites with a search function. To show you their results, we decided to search for “bird” on each site.

1. PEXELS

PEXELS

Our favorite website! “Currently we cover over 2000 photos. (…) We make sure that all published pictures are high-quality and under the CC0 license. We only add photos from reliable sources like Unsplash, Gratisography, Little Visuals and many more.”

  • Fave! Wide variety of high quality images.
  • Photos are from different photographers (details about each source are provided with the images)
  • “bird” search brought 38 results
2. UNSPLASH

UNSPLASH

“Free (do whatever you want) high-resolution stock photos.” In response to our inquiry: “Photos are totally free to use as long as it‘s not for direct resale. You can use them on Facebook and other social networking sites.”

  • Lifestyle and nature, beautiful colors, nicely staged
  • Photos are taken by a staff of different photographers
  • “bird” search brought 14 results
3. PIXABAY

PIXABAY

“You can copy, modify, distribute and use the images, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission and without paying attribution.” Please make sure to read the FAQ!

  • Extremely wide selection of every kind of images, from artsy to everyday life
  • As you can see in the Terms of Service, the pictures are taken by different photographers.
  • “bird” search brought 12,836 results
4. SPLITSHIRE

SPLITSHIRE

“I created splitshire.com to share some of my photos with you for free. Just use them as you like for web design, sliders, apps, backgrounds or templates for sale. I only ask that you spread the word; I would really appreciate it.” In response to our inquiry: “Yes, the pics are under CC0. You can use them on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, etc.”

  • Highly creative pictures and original material. Wide variety of subjects.
  • All images taken by Daniel Nanescu
  • “bird” search brought 1 result

Tips for uploading an image to your website

Images should be light as a feather

Make sure not to use too many huge files, because you want your website to run smoothly. Your images should be between 100KB and 150KB. For example, if you edit your images with Photoshop, use Photoshop’s Save for web option to get the best quality in the smallest possible file. compressor.io is also a great tool to help optimize your pics.

Photos are to SEO like a duck to water

Embedding images also creates valuable space for SEO. You can use your most important keywords in the file name. For instance, if you run a travel blog and use a bird pic, call the image something like “bird-costa-rica.jpg”. You should use the same keyword in the Alt-Text and in the description of the photo, for example “I saw this bird in Costa Rica at the beach”.

WordPress Plugins to upgrade your images

If you are working with a WordPress site and using a lot of graphics, you should think of how to simplify things.

  • You can use the plugin Imsanity to automatically resize huge image uploads.
  • If you use a lot of pics in a long article, you might find the Crazy Lazy plugin helpful. To improve page load times, images are loaded only when visible to the user.
  • If you are using Pixabay a lot, you can use the Pixabay plugin, which allows you to embed photos into your WordPress post with one click.
  • One of the most popular WordPress plugins is NextGEN. This plugin helps you upload and manage photos in galleries.

Have a safe flight!

Pictures are an important tool to underline a message. They help you market your ideas and create memorable content on the Web. We hope this article helped you learn to use them more efficiently. Have fun flying with these websites!

Notice: The information provided is subject to change and we assume no liabilities whatsoever. Furthermore, things keep changing rapidly on the Web, so better be on the safe side and refer to each portal‘s terms and conditions yourself to find out under which conditions you may use their photos or if you need to obtain written consent before doing so.

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One Comment

  1. Hi,
    thank you for great tips. I have a big request to you. Can you please add my website (http://libreshot.com) to your list? All photos there are taken by me and are licensed under CC0 – Public domain.

    I think that my website could be helpful for your readers.

    Thank you very much,

    Martin Vorel
    Czech republic

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