Writing great content is important, but having high quality pictures to support your writing is one of the best things you can do for your online presence. High quality photos tell your user that you are at a professional level and that you take the time to consider your aesthetic. However, not everyone can hire a professional photographer or find the time to take great shots themselves. And, not everyone wants to spend tonnes of money a year on monthly stock photo subscriptions. Plus, at least in my opinion, stock photo sites don’t always have the best photos – they look staged and inauthentic.
So, you need an alternative. Here are all the sites I’ve found over the past few years of blogging that provide free photos and what I think of them. All of these photos are licensed under Creative Commons Zero (CC0) which means that you can use them for free without having to ask permission or provide attribution (saying where you got it from). This includes copying, modifying, distributing, and using them for commercial purposes – in most cases the only restriction is that you can’t resell them.
Pic Jumbo – this one seems to be a compilation of a bunch of other image sites. I mostly like it because you can search for keywords and view the images by category. You can also sign up for their email newsletter to get new photos in your inbox. However their site does have a lot of ads that try to trick you into thinking they are part of the rest of the site, so beware!
Unsplash – I particurily like this site because it’s got a very clean design and the pictures are gorgeous. They also have a newsletter that you can sign up for where you get 10 new images every 10 days (thats 10, once every 10 days, not one every day). This site has a really broad range of pictures from scenery to close up objects, all compiled from different photographers.
Jay Mantri – this site is one of my favourites, again because of its clean design. What can I say? I’m a huge fan of white space – and cluttered websites make me want to leave as soon as possible. It’s a tumblr site that one guy publishes his photos on for free use. There’s no search feature but the pictures are gorgeous so just scroll away! It’s mostly scenery and background shots with some close ups on food thrown in here and there.
Foodies Feed – this page is my number one resource for food pictures. It has a really great range of different foods and series so you could have a couple different perspectives of the same meal if you needed to. The site itself is a little tough to navigate because it has a lot of adverts, but the pictures are worth the struggle.
Snapwire Snaps – this website is another tumbler account with a really clean design. It has a great variety of pictures – close ups, scenery, people, – all compiled from different artists. They also have a search feature if you click on the menu – which is a huge bonus in my opinion.
Get Refe – this is another tumblr site with photos compiled from different artists. But, it’s a little different because the photos are displayed smaller. As much as I like full width photos, when you’re searching for a specific type of photo, seeing them smaller and being able to scroll through is a lot more helpful. Their photos cover a huge variety of different things and they offer a newsletter so you can stay up to date.
Life of Pix – this site is another that brings together photos from different photographers. They have a big variety of photos, from animals to scenery to buildings and more. You can view them by category to make browsing a little easier and you can even submit your own photos for public free use here if you’re feeling generous.
SplitShire – this site contains a wide variety of photos from one photographer who is based in Italy. You can download bundles of images that are related together or view the images by category. There is no search feature but the website itself is well designed and attractive.
Gratisography – This is another site that showcases the photographs of one guy. However, these photos seem to be staged and a little less realistic then some of the casual shots on the other sites, so I don’t like them as much. But they are still great, interesting shots. There are no categories or search feature so you have to just scroll through.
Pexels – this website is a compilation of free images from a bunch of different sources, and they add 5 new images every day. I like this site because you can search the images by keyword, which is super helpful when you’re looking for something specific. They also have a newsletter you can subscribe to if you want.
Many of these sites compile photos from other sites, so sometimes you will see the same pictures on several of the platforms, but since they’re free, it’s okay (just make sure you don’t download the same pictures multiple times). What I like to do is scroll through these sites once a month or so and save the pictures that speak to me. I name them with a descriptive title of what they are, and that way whenever I need a picture for a post or project I never have to waste time scrolling through images for the perfect one. If you save attractive pictures from these sites when you see them, you will always have a reservoir of great photos that you can access to back up your great content.