Free Stock Images: How To Find Them

Publishers, graphic artists, advertising agencies, bloggers, students and others use stock photography to fulfill their creative needs and they may benefit from free stock images. If you are looking for sources of free stock images you don’t have to look too far. There are many options out there. This article will guide your steps if you are aiming to download stock photographs for free and use them in you design projects.

Finding good free stock photographs or illustrations in the internet jungle may seem a bit intimidating at first. We will try to help you by talking about the online resources available for this purpose and we also provide a list (at the end of this article) with the best free stock photos websites.

Keep in mind that free images, independent of the source you download from, may have a specific license (most likely Royalty Free) which specifies how the images should be used. Always read the terms of the license and respect them.

man so free enjoying the rain

Always credit the author / photographer when you use an image in your projects. If possible also inform the author that their work has been used and published. It is not much to ask, considering that someone offered you the result of his/her work for free.

OK, let’s see what the options are. I would say you have three main choices: free stock images agencies/websites, paid stock agencies or public domain images, some of them copyright free, which you can choose as you like.

Free stock images agencies

There are plenty of free stock photos agencies out there. Generally, they have smaller image databases whit a less varied content and slightly lower image quality compared to regular stock agencies (which will charge you money for images). Please check each website for the guidelines they request you to follow in order to use their images. Some of them require registration to access free images.

Regular stock agencies

These agencies will normally charge you a price for downloading images but many of them also provide free stock images (mostly for promotional purposes). Photographs and illustrations from these sources tend to have higher quality. You will need to create an account (which is free) first in order to download free images.

Public domain images

Public domain images are released by their authors for general use with no or few restrictions. Most of the times you are free to manipulate, copy or redistribute them but make sure you read the license associate with the image to see if there are any usage restrictions.

Please find below a list with resources for downloading free stock images:

Free stock images agencies


Is owned by Getty Images and it offers over 350,000 images (Royalty Free licensed). Requires registration to download.


No registration required to download. It also has an online community and a very permisive license.

Image After

Is an online free photo collection. You can download and use any image or texture from our site and use it in your own work, either personal or commercial. You do not need to create an account to download.


Free image database, Spanish language. It does not require registration to download. Images are Royalty-Free licensed.


You may use the images on this web site free of charge in your projects (but do not re-sell or sub-license the images or post them on a web site as a collection) as long as you give them credit.


A free images resource, it was developed by Fotolia and it offers Royalty Free images for download. Requires registration and you may download a certain number of images per day.

Regular stock agencies


If you are a designer, here you can download high resolution RF stock images for free. If you are a photographer, the heavy traffic of the free Dreamstime section offers you the opportunity to achieve great portfolio exposure by offering free images. Registration required (free).


Fotolia also has a free contents section on their website. You have to register in order to download free photos or illustrations.


This agency has an extensive free images collection. They may be downloaded after you create an account on their website.

Public domain images

It provides exclusively public domain images for download. No registration required.

Wikimedia Commons

Hosts only freely licensed images, sound files, and other media. With over 7 million uploaded files (Jul 2010) it is the largest free images only repository and it contains many public domain images.


Searching over 4.3 million public domain and creative commons photos including wikipedia and NASA. Free user accounts with drag and drop collections, and other features. Always read the license.


A collection of public domain clip art. The collection is free and no registration is required. We hope you find the clip art useful for your documents and projects.