The best free stock photos in 2022: high-quality images for your new project

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There are thousands of great free stock photos you can use in your websites and projects, many without attribution.

We’ve put together our selection of the best free stock photo sites to help you find the images you need. All of the images on these sites are free to use for personal, editorial, or commercial use (and go great with our selection of the best free photo editors), but there are still a few restrictions to keep in mind.

The main limitations apply to photos of identifiable people, branded products and private property (not only people’s homes, but also certain landmarks). Getty Images has an excellent guide to intellectual property, which is worth reviewing before you begin.

But keep in mind that many of these sites receive contributions from amateur photographers who might not be fully aware of the rules surrounding model releases for photos of people and may not have asked their subjects to sign a waiver. If you are unsure, it is best to contact the site directly.

Free collection of Adobe Stock

(Image credit: wavebreak3 – stock.adobe.com)

1. Free Adobe Stock Collection

Premium quality photos, illustrations, templates and more

Reasons to buy
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Pictures. videos and illustrations

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Excellent quality everywhere

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Photographers are paid

In October 2020, Adobe made more than 70,000 stock photos, videos, illustrations, and templates free for personal, professional, and creative use. Its goal, according to a blog post, is to “make it accessible to all means of creation”.

The photos are always of high quality and the artists are paid for their contributions. There’s a great selection of filters you can use to find exactly the right stock photo, and you can even upload an existing image to find similar images.

Most photos are covered by Adobe’s standard license terms, which are very permissive and only restrict you from distributing the files themselves, creating products whose value is associated with the photo itself (such as a photo printed on a poster) and transfer the license. to more than one employer or client. It’s always worth checking before uploading a photo, as there may be exceptions.

Unsplash

(Image credit: Carl Flor on Unsplash)

2.Unsplash

Stunning photos from professional and semi-professional photographers

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Consistent high quality

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Handy search tool

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Mobile app available

Unsplash is a well curated collection of beautiful photos donated by skilled photographers, and has been used to create amazing work. There are fewer images than you’ll find on Pixabay (see below), but the quality is more consistent.

Unsplash’s search tool is the quickest way to find an image, but if you have the time, check out Collections – groups of photos sorted by other users in themes like Light and Shadow, Street Life and Into the Wild. You can create your own collections after creating an account. They are great for getting inspired or gathering resources for a project.

Unsplash even has an iOS app, which helps you find stock images to use for creative work on an iPad or iPhone.

As with all stock photography sites here, it’s not necessary to credit the photographer, but Unsplash notes that it’s nice to add a simple credit with a link to their profile as a courtesy. The photo shown here is by Carl Flor.

Pixabay

(Image credit: Poswiecie on Pixabay)

3.Pixabay

The largest collection of free photos and illustrations online

Reasons to buy
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Extensive collection of images

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Offers illustrations and photos

Pixabay is packed with over a million public domain images — not just photos, but also illustrations, vector graphics, and even a handful of videos. Its selection of landscape photography is particularly strong, and the Editor’s Choice is well worth a look if you don’t have something specific in mind.

Once you’ve found a suitable free photo, choose an appropriate resolution (print projects will require a much higher resolution than online ones) and complete a Captcha to download the file. You can remove the Captcha by signing up for a free account.

The vast majority of images on Pixabay are safe to work with, but to prevent anything explicit from appearing in search results, be sure to check the Enable SafeSearch box before browsing.

The quality of the photography isn’t as high as Unsplash, but if you can’t find the free photo you need, Pixabay might be able to help.

Gratisography

(Image credit: Ryan McGuire)

4. Gratisography

Fun and surreal photos that provide a breath of fresh air

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Consistent high quality photos

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Funny and unusual images

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Relatively small selection

If you’re looking for something a little offbeat, Gratisography – a collection of images from talented photographer and graphic designer Ryan McGuire – is perfect. Ryan’s photos often have a surreal edge to them and are brilliant if you’re tired of boring photo cliches; there are no women laughing alone with salad here.

Gratisography doesn’t offer as much content as some other free stock photo sites, but Ryan’s creative eye makes up for that, and he adds new images every week. You can subscribe to its newsletter for update alerts, or keep an eye on his Twitter account.

It’s not essential to credit McGuire when you use his work, but he appreciates it if you do.

Pexels

(Image credit: Pexels)

5. Pixels

Free public domain photos from around the world

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Photos classified by theme

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Offers UI mockups for designers

Reasons to avoid

Some photos are for limited use

Everyone is welcome to upload photos to Pexels, and the site’s curators will select the best shots to populate its searchable collection of public domain images. You can search for something specific or browse by topics including hobbies, emotions, and places.

Pexels is a particularly good choice for web or app designers, with an excellent set of device images ideal for displaying interface mockups. A few images stray from the stock photo (ideas that are difficult to illustrate with scrabble tiles, for example), but the vast majority are creative and original.

Pexels has a category dedicated to space photography, which looks amazing, but keep in mind that some of the material comes from NASA – one of the organizations whose images should only be used in contexts specific.

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PikWizard

(Image credit: Authentic Images on PikWizard)

6. Pikwizard

A great resource if you need photos of natural looking people

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No awkward, corny poses

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Online photo editor available

Reasons to avoid

Photos under different licenses

PikWizard offers thousands of free stock photos on a wide range of topics. The quality is impressive and – unusually for a free stock photography site – there are plenty of photos of people in natural poses. Nothing corny here.

The selection of urban photographs is also impressive. If you need a stunning cityscape, PikWizard is a great place to look.

If you want to get creative without leaving your browser, PikWizard provides links to an online photo editor. Most of the tools and templates here are high-end designs, but none cost more than a few dollars.

Photos on PikWizard are offered under two licenses: Free and CC0. A CC0 license means the photographer has relinquished their copyright, but a free license means they retain copyright, but have allowed their work to be used without payment. The full license explains in more detail. It is not necessary to credit the photographer, but it is appreciated if possible.

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negative space

(Image credit: negative space)

7. Negative Space

Free photos from up-and-coming photographers

Reasons to buy
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Work of new photographers

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Frequently updated

Reasons to avoid

Some copyrighted material

Anyone with a camera is invited to contribute free photos to Negative Space, which aims to give amateur photographers a platform to share their work with the world and support their creative colleagues.

As with Gratisography, you can subscribe to the Negative Space newsletter for updates when new images are added, and because the content refreshes so frequently, it’s worth coming back to look for new images if you have worked on a project for a while.

Negative Space is based in the UK, so much of the photography features UK scenes. At the time of writing, the collection contains several shots of architecture in London, so it’s worth checking out this guide to London’s IP and skyline before using them.

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What Makes Great Stock Photography

For print jobs, resolution is key. Standard photo prints require a resolution of at least 640 x 480 pixels, but your printer and designer might want something higher. Photos should be as sharp as possible, with no visible artifacts or noise when zoomed in. Avoid photos that are even slightly out of focus.

Creativity is also very important. Stock photography has a bad reputation because much of it (even on premium sites) relies on clunky cliches and metaphors to convey tricky concepts, but experienced photographers tend to have an eye for interesting details and scenes. that could convey a message in a more subtle way. or imaginative way.

Ultimately it’s up to you which image is most appropriate for the context, but some sites (like Unsplash) allow users to tag images themselves, which can make it easier to find something that matches. to the message you want to convey.

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