Here is a list of our favorite royalty-free stock media websites that allow you to use their images on your own website for both personal and commercial use. Some of these services offer not only images (which includes photos, icons, and graphics), but videos and music as well.
Most of these services rely on advertising to earn a profit. If you do use a lot of images please consider at least giving attribution on some of the media you use. Most of the services also accept donations and allow you to send donations to the actual authors of the media. Remember without them you would not have any content! ?
With over 2 million high-resolution images Unsplash is probably the most popular free stock photo service. This service has an iOS and Android app and is integrated into popular website builders and graphic design software for ease of access. With the Unsplash license you can download all images for free for personal and commercial purposes. No permission is needed but attribution is appreciated.
Openverse is part of the WordPress project and as of 2023 currently has a library of more than 700 million creative works that includes photos and audio files. In the future, additional media types such as open texts and 3D models will be added with the goal of providing access to an estimated 2.5 billion works. All Openverse content is under a Creative Commons license or is in the public domain. Much of the media does require attribution to be used.
Openverse aggregates its data from across multiple public repositories into a single catalog. For this reason, it has the largest database of media. Unfortunately, the ability to fine tune the filtering of the search results and the quality of the media found leaves much to be desired.
Pixabay has 1.9+ million copyright free high quality stock images (photos and graphics), videos, and music shared by their community. The media is released under the Pixabay license and is free for personal and commercial use with no attribution required (but appreciated).
Pexels offers over 1 million images and videos. It’s not just photos either, but illustrations and vector graphics as well. Under the Pexel license you can download the media for personal and commercial use for free with not attribution. The website is easy to search and allows you to give donations to the authors with ease. The ads displayed on this service are also not obtrusive like some of the other free websites. Pexel also has both an app for iOS and Android.
A platform for photographers to share their photography with the world. There are thousands of Photos which are free to use for personal or commercial purposes with no attribution required (but encouraged). Photos are made available under the Creative Commons CC0 license.
New Old Stock
If you are looking for free old photos, then New Old Stock is the website you want to visit. They have vintage photos from several different public archives. To the best of the sites knowledge, all photos are licensed under Flickr Commons which means they allow both personal and commercial use. Some authors also may require attribution to use their photo. To confirm the exact licensing requirements, you will need to check the original Flickr posting and the institution’s rights statement. New Old Stock has no search feature so if you are looking for a specific type of image you will need to look through the 100 plus pages which contain 10 images each.