Free Images: 18 Alternatives to Stock Photos

Free Images: 18 Alternatives to Stock Photos

Updated By Staff Writer on August 31, 2020

Boring. Cheesy. Dated.

These are words often used to describe stock photos. With your elite sense of design and high-caliber taste in style, you refuse to use images that don’t reflect real life or emit emotion. That’s why you’re on the hunt for something better.

Well, you’re in luck! All around the web, professional free image sites have been established and are happy to share their art. Now you can get high-quality alternatives to stock photos without breaking (or even bending) your budget.

A Quick Explanation of Creative Commons Public Domain

These 18 listed sites offer photos that are either free from copyright restrictions or are licensed under creative commons public domain dedication. What does this mean? It means you can do the following with the pictures without asking permission first:

  • Copy
  • Modify
  • Distribute
  • Use for commercial purposes

However, some photos may require attribution (credit). It’s always wise to determine for sure if you have permission to use the free images in the way you want to use them.

1- StockSnap.io1

This site offers beautiful, high-resolution images by the hundreds in dozens of different categories. They also offer a Weekly Free Photo Bundle, which includes their ten favorite submissions from the previous seven days.


For gorgeous alternatives to stock photos, look no further. This site features photos with titles such as “Holding Fresh Blueberries,” “Old Doorbell,” and “Icy Chain.”

3- ISO3

This site is easy to search and explore, and you can find inspiration by casually browsing its galleries. Oh, and you can get not only free images on this site, but royalty-free CC0 stock videos as well.

Related Content: A Guide to Graphic Design Terms.

4- Pixabay4

You’ll have your choice of over 1.6 million illustrations, vector graphics, and videos shared by this generous community. You can also turn on “SafeSearch” in order to exclude inappropriate or explicit images from your search results.

5- Foodiesfeed5

If you need a photo to look professional and appetizing, then you need a good stock food photo. Foodiesfeed allows you to browse trending free food photos, with a tasty selection that is sure to make your mouth water. Popular tags include top view, healthy, closeup, wood, and vegan.

6- Pexels6

Talented photographers share their best photos. The site maintains a 30-day leaderboard of top photographers who boast a very impressive 1 million up to 19 million views each.

7- Styled Stock7

This free photo site is specifically tailored to “Feminine Stock Photography.” Topics include beauty supplies, fashion, florals, and desktop. Images are attractive, and it’s a great resource if you need something specific to this market.

8- Skitterphoto8

The free images offered here lean toward the crisp, bright, and colorful. Everything is public domain, which means you can use the photos for any purpose—commercial or personal—and you’re free to edit them to your heart’s desire, as well.

9- Reshot9

These unique alternatives to stock photos are handpicked and “non-stocky,” where quality is chosen over quantity. This company’s mission is to “Unify creators and elevate creative projects.” They know that being creative is a lifestyle, a passion, and a way to make the world better.

10- Gratisography10

This company labels themselves as having “the world’s quirkiest collection” of free images that you won’t find anywhere else. They know that with billions of pages all over the indexed web, you need to stand out. That’s why you’ll find some of the best, most creative pictures that you won’t see anywhere else.

11- SplitShire11

SplitShire’s philosophy is to give life to photographs that would have gone into oblivion without any utility. So as they say, “Grab them and be creative.” Photos are arranged in helpful categories, such as wedding, animals, abstract, landscapes etc., so you can easily find what you’re looking for.

12- MMT12

Create and download custom wallpapers with professional images from MMT. After you choose a photo, you can customize the blur, brightness, contrast, and color effects. And their “filter” feature on the site makes it easy to find the right photo for your needs—and get some inspiration while you’re at it.

13- Unsplash13

Not your typical public domain images, this community’s nearly endless collection is taken by passionate photographers and are gifted for free. Photos are organized in “collections” if you’re looking for inspiration or aren’t sure exactly what you want yet. You can also choose to “explore” photos that are arranged in very specific categories.

14- Picjumbo14

Browse the incredible collection of alternatives to stock photos in the provided Dark Mode or Light Mode option in order to get a better feel for how your project will look in the end. A handy feature is that many photos have a “more images like this” link to allow you to find just the right image for your needs.

15- Burst15

Some of the interesting categories you can explore for free images here are Cinemagraphs, Textures, and Urban Life. Powered by Shopify, this site is tailored toward businesses looking for high-quality free stock photography.

16- Kaboompics16

Find the perfect photo for your project. Plus, Kaboompics adds a color palette to each one. This makes it a popular source of free images for lifestyle, interior design, and specialized bloggers all over the world.

17- LifeofPix17

These are not your standard free images ... this is art. LifeofPix is a great, free resource for stunning photos that look anything but “free.” All images are public domain, so they’re good for commercial and personal use.

18- Freestocks.org18

Not your cliché stock images, this is a source for alternatives to stock photos that are fresh, up to date, and versatile in style to that they are fit for everybody, everyday. Images are uploaded regularly, and they often have a holiday theme—so if Christmas is coming up and you’re looking for something festive, or it’s springtime and you’re looking for photos of nature, you’ll find a great photograph for the occasion.

Other Creative Options

As important as it is to include images on your site and in your marketing materials, they aren’t your only option and should not be the only graphic used to convey your message. To truly capture your audience’s attention and engage them fully, a variety of graphic mediums should be included.

Here are other creative options that are at your disposal:

  • User-generated content: Instead of sourcing images from another website, ask your users to submit their own.
  • DIY photography: While professional images are usually better than your own personal photography, don’t throw the idea out altogether. These days, anyone can make an image look good with a decent camera and hot filter.
  • Illustrations: Whether you hire an illustrator or you source a stylized illustration for free, these are fun and can help you stand out from the crowd.
  • Personalization: Add annotations, shapes, and sketches to your images in order to make your point.
  • Videos: People love watching videos, and the longer format allows you to present more information than a stock image ever could.
  • Infographics: Visualize data and stats in an easy-to-read and fun format.
  • Graphs and Charts: If you have a lot of information to share, it can be much easier for your audience to digest it all when you use graphs and charts.
  • Screenshots: Make your tutorial or highly technical piece easier to follow by capturing and sharing a still shot of your screen.
  • Memes: Memes are of the moment. They’re amusing and put a smile on everyone’s face.

Interested in Graphic Arts?

If you are a very visual person, love to express yourself through sight, and are interested in the arts, you should consider a career as a graphic artist. As a professional, you’ll combine your exceptional creativity and natural artistic instinct to tell captivating stories and convey important messages through rich visual experiences.

Employers need your refined skills to address diverse audiences, and there are also many opportunities for self-employment in this field. So if you’re interested in becoming a student of the graphic arts, look no further than Independence University. We provide the instruction, techniques, and tools you need to keep on top of the latest trends in print, web, and information design.

Request more information on our online graphic arts degree programs today!