Whether you’re a graphic designer, blogger, or a maker, stock photos help us create content that connects with our audiences. Think about it. Who wants to look at endless blocks of text with no breaks or color? Definitely not most people. Photos help make your content look inviting and more engaging. Perhaps you’re putting together a collage, art project, a book, or a book cover… it doesn’t matter. Stock photos can help bring cohesion to your ideas. Here are the best free stock photography sites available to creators:
What is Stock Photography?
Stock photos are photos of exceptional quality made with broad purpose to help show certain concepts (generally, for commercial purposes). For instance, a wedding photo or a family photo may only have relevance to the portrait’s subjects, but because stock photos represent ideas, they can be used in lots of different scenarios by wide audiences.
For instance, a carefully-staged photo of money, or a person holding a notebook can represent the concept of money or wealth, and the person holding a notebook could be working or brainstorming towards something. Showing these concepts can add real power to your content and help your audience connect. Ultimately, effective content motivates your audience to continue reading with curiosity, and photos help to convey meaning and purpose.
What is Public Domain?
According to current copyright laws, “Works that are in the public domain may be used freely, without obtaining permission from or compensating the copyright owner.” Most commonly, that includes older works that have aged out of being eligible for copyright any longer, but living or recently-deceased creators can define how their work is used. Some artists choose to make their work available under the public domain or a Creative Commons License.
What is a Creative Commons License?
There are six different types of Creative Commons Licenses that allow creators to share their work, but with certain limitations as defined by the license.
- Attribution CC BY
- Attribution ShareAlike CC BY-SA
- Attribution-NoDerivs CC BY-ND
- Attribution-NonCommercial CC BY-NC
- Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike CC BY-NC-SA
- Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND
Some of those may be under a CC Zero license to forbidding certain types of commercial uses or derivative usage. Not all Creative Commons licenses are created equal. Be sure to check the creative commons license agreement before using it in a project.
What is Royalty-free Photography?
Royalties are a fee paid to the artist for each sale of a photograph or sale of their work. Royalty-free images mean stock photo sites pay the royalties to the photographer and users are only responsible for buying a license for a certain type of the work’s usage once for a flat fee.
Best Free Stock Photography Sites:
- Burst (by Shopify)
- Fancy Crave
- Free Food Photos
- Good Stock Photos
- IM Free
- ISO Republic
- Jay Mantri
- Kaboom Pics
- Life of Pix
- Little Visuals
- Moose Stock Photos
- Negative Space
- New Old Stock
- Public Domain Archive
- Scatter Jar
- Snapwire Snaps
- Startup Stock Photos
- Travel Coffee Book
Stock Photography License Usage
Yes, these are indeed some of the best free stock photography sites around, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t usage rules. Especially if you’re using a stock image for a product or for-profit project, make sure you check the distribution license. Some may require attribution or have a limited license that is only royalty-free up to a certain number of copies or impressions. Make sure your usage matches the license or you could find yourself receiving a cease and desist, or worse, a lawsuit. Honor the art of other creators- we’re all in this together.
Go out there and create some beautiful art!