30 Resources For Free Stock Photos and Illustrations

If you know where to look, you can find amazing stock photos, vector illustrations and icons for free. I keep a vast library, and I mean VAST! When I was first starting out I didn’t know where to find any resources and I didn’t understand how to interpret the licensing. I was hesitant to use the free resources I found because I didn't understand the restrictions. Here are the basics:

  1. Types of images: Royalty-free and rights-managed
    • Royalty-free: You can use these images anywhere, for anything, and for however long you would like. “Free” here does not refer to the image being free, but to the fact that whatever you pay, you only pay once. There are no royalties owed in the future.
    • Rights-Managed: These images are restricted so they will specify when you can use them, for how long, and if you can use them for personal and/or commercial use.
  2. Copyright: Every image is protected by copyright. Every single one. Copyright refers to your right to own the art/image you created. Free or paid, it needs to be stated that the image owner is allowing you to use their image and in what scope they are allowing it. Creative Commons Licenses are a common way to outline what you are allowed to do with an image. I download or take a screenshot of the license so that I can produce it later if I need to.
  3. Personal use vs Commercial use: Personal use is only for you, personally to use. No financial gain involved. It’s easier to check if it’s for commercial use and if it’s not, then you can assume it’s for personal use. Commercial use is for business, advertising, promotional, endorsement and merchandising purposes. It’s good to note that your social media constitutes commercial use if it’s for your business. Remember that when you post.
  4. Free vs Paid: Remember that you do get what you pay for. Benefits to free images are obviously that they are free! Benefits to paid images are that you can pay to use the image however you want, the amount of people using the same image is limited, and you have a large range to choose from in one place. Free image sites can sometimes have poor quality images, limits on how you can use them and you can’t always find what you’re looking for. If you have your own small business, I think that it’s worth it to try to find free images. For larger businesses, I would recommend getting a subscription to a paid site because your audience is far larger so you need to ensure your imagery is unique to you. Hopefully you have a designer working for you in your company. Their time is your money which means it makes less sense to pay them to spend hours looking for the perfect free image than to simply pay for the image.

Here are my top sites that I can recommend to you. Please use your own judgement when downloading anything off the internet. Personally, if they send me to more than one place to download, I will not download it. If you need to subscribe or give them your email, this is not necessarily a bad thing but be aware that you are giving them a certain amount of access and information. Go pillage the internet of it’s vast resources, but be picky!

  1. Picjumbo
  2. Unsplash
  3. Death to the Stock Photo (Not searchable)
  4. Jay Mantri (Not searchable)
  5. Little Visuals (No longer updated)
  6. Magdeleine
  7. Getrefe (Not searchable. Good photos but not a lot of them)
  8. Gratisography 
  9. Foodie’s Feed
  10. Splitshire
  11.  Pixabay
  12. Stokpic 
  13. Public Domain Archive
  14. New Old Stock (Vintage photos. Public domain.)
  15. Pexels
  16. Kaboompics
  17. FancyCrave (Not searchable. Has nice section of quotes on backgrounds)
  18. StockSnap
  19. ISO Republic (Has textures as well)
  20. Designers Pics
  21. Epicantus (Not searchable. Romantic, vintage style)
  22. CreateHER Stock (Email required. Lifestyle images for and of African American women.)
  23. Every Monday Creative Market offers 6 free resources to download. They have quality items and they range from fonts, vectors, photo bundles, templates, mock ups and more. Check them out for sure!

Other Resources (Vectors, icons, mockups, illustrations, backgrounds, text effects, UI kits, photos, fonts, templates, textures):

  1. Iconmonstr (Icons of course)
  2. Flaticon (Subscription required)
  3. Graphicburger (Vectors, icons, mockups, illustrations, backgrounds, text effects, UI kits, photos, fonts, templates, textures)
  4. Dafont (Free and paid fonts)
  5. WhatTheFont (Upload a screenshot of a font you want to identify)
  6. Colourlovers (Create custom colour palettes or browse collections from other users)
  7. Canva (Use their site to create. Icons, infographics, templates and more)

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