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The Top 15 Sites for Copyright and Royalty-Free Images

Maybe you’re an aspiring photographer looking for inspiration. Or an up-and-coming entrepreneur trying to find stock photography to add to your website.

Whatever your profession, this list of the best stock photography websites will ensure you’ll always have access to copyright and royalty-free images.

Some websites allow you to download pictures for private use (e.g., background wallpapers) yet disallow images to be used commercially. This includes instances such as business cards, websites, or posters. The images on the following websites have protection under Creative Commons CC0:

“The person who associated a work with this deed has dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.”

The following websites either support or fully comprise CC0 images available in the public domain. The owners of these images have allowed users to modify, edit, and use their images without copyright backlash.

woodblock japanese art creative commons logo

Before delving into the free stock image sites, there are two common courtesies to consider when using CC0 images.

  • Although you do not have to give credit to the creator, we recommend that you publicize the artists’ efforts.
  • These websites often have a Donate page or splash screen. If you use free image hosting sites often, consider donating to their cause. If everyone using a copyright-free image site threw in the price of a coffee, it would greatly benefit the photographers and artists offering their wares for free.

Now that that’s cleared up, here are the websites you need to bookmark for quality, copyright-free images.

City Photography Unsplash
Image Credit: Patrick Tomasso/Unsplash

Unsplash is a side project started by Crew, an online marketing agency, but it has grown into one of the largest and most-used copyright and royalty-free stock image sites. It now features over one million images covering all manner of topics, with contributors uploading images from around the world.

As Unsplash’s library of stock images has grown, so has its search functionality, and you can search its database using colors, trends, collections, and much more.

Although Unsplash started as a side project, it is now one of the best copyright-free image sites around, hence why it doesn’t feature on our list of lesser-known free stock image sites.

Mountain Range And Clouds Pexels
Image Credit: eberhard grossgasteiger/Pexels

Pexels is a website that wants to help. Started in 2015, it has grown to be a reputable stock photo library. Its mission statement phrases its aim best:

We help millions of designers, writers, artists, programmers and other creators to get access to beautiful photos that they can use freely which empowers them to create amazing products, designs, stories, websites, apps, art and other work. We call it: “Empowering Creators.”

Pexels is also unique in that it doesn’t only display images located on the Pexels website. It also outsources images from other high-quality websites, such as Little Visuals.

Best of all, Pexels screens its images to ensure the highest quality images available. There’s a lot of exceptional photography to be found on the site, and although with certain niches, you’ll struggle to find an image, this is changing over time. Note that you can also download copyright-free stock videos from the site.

Run Down House Flickr
Image Credit: Bernard Spragg/Flickr

Although Flickr is not dedicated to public domain images, it boasts an extensive library of high-quality public domain images. Flickr remains one of the greatest image libraries on the internet, and with millions of high-quality public domain images, you’re unlikely to run out of stock photography anytime soon.

There are always new features appearing over at Flickr, too. For instance, you can order photo prints directly from Flickr, which is great if you spot a photo you like. Check out our Flickr beginner’s guide if you’re new to the platform, as there are a couple of features like Photostream and Flickr Pro you’ll want to know about.

The one thing to remember with Flickr is that not every image on the site is free for use, royalty-free, or protected under Creative Commons. Make sure you double-check the image details before adding them to your website!

beautiful blossoms with bee collecting nectar
Image Credit: jggrz/Pixabay

Pixabay is another image repository that integrates images from other image hosting sites. It attempts to gather the very best of free stock images for your own personal or commercial use.

Pixabay also allows easy access to “camera search,” which allows users to explore images based on the camera used to take them. This is a great resource for both beginners and professional photographers alike.

Presidential Photography Wikimedia
Image Credit: Cecil Stoughton, White House Press Office (WHPO)/Wikimedia

Wikimedia provides a truly stunning image repository, spanning everything from lush landscapes to historical events.

Touting over 34 million freely usable media pieces, including videos and sounds, Wikimedia is necessary for graphic designers, photographers, and artists looking for free, high-quality images. Wikimedia is also part of a much larger organization dedicated to free images, education, and information.

various ice cream colors top down on slate
Image Credit: Seksak Kerdkanno/Vecteezy

Vecteezy is a great royalty-free image site with a substantial range of options. Vecteezy’s range of images is broad, but what helps set it apart from other royalty-free sites is the vector section, which features an extensive range of purely vector images spanning many different types and styles. You can also check out what’s trending on the site and use that to inform the stock images you download.

Like other copyright-free and royalty-free image sites, Vecteezy has a Pro License subscription model, enabling them to offer free stock images. Vecteezy’s free images are clearly marked, and you can use the Free License search tool to hone in on what you want.

Image Caption: Motherboard on Film/Flickr

If you’re looking for a royalty-free and copyright-free image search tool, then Openverse is the tool for you. Developed and maintained by WordPress, you can use Openverse to search the internet for copyright-free images. Better still, you can use Openverse to search using different Creative Commons licenses, such as CC BY (credit the image creator) and CC BY-ND (credit the creator, no adaptations allowed).

One thing to note with Openverse is that you must click through to the image website to find the exact license to display, not just use the Openverse URL (which doesn’t count!).

photo of two smiling women wearing colorful clothing-1
Image Credit: Adobe

Adobe is one of the biggest names in the creative industries, with its world-leading Adobe Creative Cloud the go-to for countless creative folks and businesses worldwide. However, it’s also notoriously expensive, which is why it may come as a surprise that Adobe maintains a royalty-free image collection available to anyone.

The Adobe license is permissive for most uses, only becoming more difficult to navigate when you use work for editorial reasons. But the Adobe royalty-free image database is easy to search, very high-quality, and features a great range of subjects, topics, and more. The extensive number of royalty-free transparent background images is also really useful, as you can find a great number of people making gestures, in specific poses, and more.

sunflower field blue sky stock image
Image Credit: Mirzaman/Freerange Stock

Once you register for a free membership at Freerange, thousands of high-resolution stock photos will be at your fingertips at no cost. All of the website’s images can be used for personal or commercial projects. For photographers, Freerange also offers Google AdSense revenue sharing when you contribute.

In addition to thousands of unique images, the site also has about 20,000 CC0 photos, most of which have accurate keywords and descriptions.

Skyscraper Architecture Photography Life Of Pix
Image Credit: Tuur Tisseghem/Life of Pix

You can easily lose yourself for hours scouring through the beautiful copyright-free pictures on Life of Pix.

Created by the LEEROY advertising agency in Montreal, Life of Pix is a haven for free, public-domain photography. Better yet, its Life of Vids website contains even more impressive stock video footage, all available for free. Each week, Life of Pix elects a photographer to take center stage and receive some extra promotion, while photographers can manage their Life of Pix profile to make sure it’s showing their best work.

Image Credit: Asaf R/StockSnap

StockSnap provides an excellent and extensive library of free stock imagery. With hundreds of high-quality photos added weekly, StockSnap isn’t your casual photography outlet.

Created by the good people at Snappa, every single image in StockSnap is free for you to use. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better image repository.

Nature Photography Of Fish Burst
Image Credit: Ryan Bruce/Burst

They say something works well when you hardly notice it, and that’s exactly what Burst provides. In the same vein as Unsplash, Burst provides a sleek interface to explore and a wide selection of images and categories to choose from.

Better yet, it provides both low- and high-quality images without copyright, depending on whether you’re adding images to a website or using images for graphic design.

If you need a vast online repository of free high-quality images, bookmark Burst immediately.

Classic Car Photography KaboomPics
Image Credit: Karolina Grabowska/KaboomPics

KaboomPics is a legitimately impressive undertaking. From the UI design to the vast reservoir of stellar images, you will find yourself combing through images you don’t even need.

If it was just about royalty-free images, KaboomPics’ selection would already be top of the class. But it also features both a color picker search engine and color palettes for images as well.

That’s just scratching the surface of what KaboomPics has to offer. From photoshoots to informative blog entries, it’s one of the most impressive free stock image sites around.

flower and petals background image stock
Image Credit: Flower Petal Background/Gratisography

Are you looking for something a little more out there? Do you need a quirky free high-resolution photo? Then Gratisography is the place for you.

The site features a heap of copyright-free images that are “Truly unique. Usually whimsy 😉 Always free.” and will enable you to put a unique spin on your next project.

Hide and Seek child peeks through leaf

Libreshot is another handy source for slightly unusual royalty-free photography. Every shot on the site is the work of owner Martin Vorel.

Vorel uploads his brilliant photography from around the world to Libreshot, allowing you to use them for free. He only asks that if you do use one of his photos, consider adding a link to the site.

green fern rolling out
Image Credit: Green Fern/Negative Space

Negative Space offers you thousands of beautiful royalty-free images, covering a comprehensive range of categories. Like some of the other top copyright-free image sites, you can search Negative Space using the color of the image you want rather than a specific search term or category.

New free images are added all the time, so make sure to bookmark Negative Space for your next project.

woman taking selfie with bridge background
Image Credit: Woman Taking Selfie/Reshot

Your final option for royalty-free stock images is the excellent Reshot. If you want truly unique stock images, Reshot is one of your best options.

The development and creative team vet each copyright-free shot uploaded to the site, ensuring only the best of the best are available to you. That means the standard of photography on show at Reshot is very high—and that will be reflected in your work, too.

What’s great about Reshot is that you can also use it to find unique icons and illustrations for your next project, as well as search for images using different image orientations.

What’s the Best Royalty-Free Image Site?

We get it; there are so many royalty-free and copyright-free image sites that choosing a single option is difficult. Having such a broad selection of potential options is important, though. Finding the perfect royalty-free image is much easier when there is more choice.

Just remember to check out the image licensing status before using it in your project, website, or otherwise. While these sites all offer royalty-free and copyright-free images, some require you to add a specific image attribution.

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