The must-know places to find the best royalty-free images on the web.
The right royalty-free images are a key part of building a visible and memorable brand. You need impactful images for your website, your email marketing, your blog posts—the list goes on. But paying for stock photos can get expensive. As a small business owner, it just might not be in your budget.
That’s where royalty-free images come in. Royalty-free images allow you to get the visual assets you need for your small business—without breaking the bank.
Let’s take a look at 68 places where you can find the best royalty-free images on the web—and get the images you need without spending a single dollar:
What Are Royalty-Free Images?
First things first. Before we jump into where to find the best royalty-free images, let’s first cover what, exactly, royalty-free images are.
“Royalty-free” is a term used to indicate that you can use intellectual property (like an image) without paying royalties or licensing fees. If a royalty-free image is approved for commercial use, you can use it for any business venture. Whether to add visual interest to your new marketing brochure or to spruce up your corporate website.
Sometimes, you’ll have to pay a one-time fee to gain the right to use the image. But, as we’ll soon cover, there are plenty of places where you can find royalty-free images without spending anything.
What’s the Difference Between Royalty-Free and Copyright-Free Images?
Although people often confuse royalty-free images with copyright-free images, they’re not the same thing.
A copyright is an intellectual property law that protects any original work from unauthorized use. So, for example, if you get a copyright on your business logo, it would prevent other companies from stealing your design and using it as their own.
Copyright-free images, as the name implies, are images that don’t have a copyright. Anyone can use them.
Royalty-free images, on the other hand, typically do have a copyright. While you don’t have to pay royalties to use them, as a licensee there are stipulations about how you can use the image. For example, you might have to credit the author whenever you use an image on your website.
Terms You Need to Know
There are a few additional terms you’ll want to wrap your head around before you start incorporating royalty-free images into your business designs, including:
- Creative Commons: This is when an artist waives their rights to their work, so it can be used for the common good by others. Different types of Creative Commons licenses exist, so ensure you read the terms of the specific images, graphics, videos, written material and other forms of content before publishing.
- Public Domain: Any material created in the U.S. before 1923, as well as any non-classified images taken by federal, state and local government, are considered part of the public domain and available for use by the public.
- Attribution: This is when the creator of an image or a photo-sharing website requires you to credit the author if you use their image, either for personal or commercial purposes.
- Commercial Use: The right to use royalty-free images for any business venture.
- Membership: A sign-up is required to access royalty-free images, which sometimes includes a fee.
Where to Find the Best Royalty-Free Images on the Web
So, now that you know your way around all the royalty-free terminology, let’s get to the good stuff—where you can actually find royalty-free images.
Here are 68 places to find the most amazing royalty-free images for your business the internet has to offer:
Stock Photo Sites
Shutterstock: Shutterstock has a reputation for being one of the best, most comprehensive sources for royalty-free images on the web. And for good reason! With millions of high-quality photos, you’ll have no problem finding what you’re looking for. Not to mention with affordable subscription and on-demand options, it won’t break your budget, either.
Unsplash: Unsplash is a popular website that features a huge volume (we’re talking 1 million plus) of free, high-quality, high-resolution photos from photographers around the world. And while attribution is appreciated, it’s not required.
Burst by Shopify: Burst is a stock photo site for entrepreneurs powered by Shopify. All photos are under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, which means you’re welcome to use the photos for any purpose—including commercial use.
Pexels: Pexels offers thousands of free and easily searchable stock photos for commercial use, with a variety of new high-resolution photos added every month.
Pixabay: A diverse collection of free, high-quality stock photos, vectors and art illustrations with no attribution required.
Dreamstime: This large royalty-free photo site has hundreds of thousands of images in their library. Just keep in mind that if you use one of those images, attribution is required.
Barn Images: Launched in 2015 by Latvian photographers Igor Trepeshchenok and Roman Drits, this website adds new images regularly. All of the photos are free for personal and commercial use. Attribution is required.
Free Digital Photos: Provides free images in smaller dimensions. The site requires attribution, but if you don’t want to credit the site, you can purchase the image for a small fee ($3 and up).
Free Images: This website features—you guessed it—a variety of free images, published under Free Images’ own license. While the site has over 300,000 images in its database, some images carry certain restrictions. As a result, make sure you check each image before using it for your business.
Free Range Stock: Thousands of high-resolution stock photos for commercial use.
Freestocks: Creative Commons images that can be copied, modified, distributed and used for commercial projects. Photos may not be sold.
Free Photo Bank: Free Photo Bank has over 11,000 free stock photos in a variety of categories. Just make sure to include an attribution.
Getty Images: Getty has a reputation for offering some of the most high-quality, premium images on the web. Their Embed Viewer feature allows for free download, as long as you properly embed the provided code. Additionally, you can only use the images on a non-commercial website or blog.
ISO Republic: This website offers a blend of both free and premium stock photos. They also have featured photographers who share images on the website. Just make sure to check out the license requirements for each photo before using.
Imfree: Images are from multiple sources, providing commercially viable, royalty-free images. If you decide to use an image from the website, you’ll have to include attribution.
Large Photos: A decent collection of high-quality Creative Commons photos that can be used for a variety of commercial projects.
Libre Shot: Hundreds of Creative Commons images for any use, including commercial. No attribution required.
Morguefile: Free photos by creatives for creatives. Started by Michael Connors in 1996, it is one of the oldest free image websites on the internet, with over 350,000 free stock photos for commercial use.
Negative Space: A collection of high-resolution Creative Commons photos with no copyright restrictions. Attribution isn’t required.
Public Domain Pictures: As you might have guessed, this site offers public domain photos. If you want to use one of the thousands of images featured on this site for commercial purposes, keep in mind that some photos require a model or property release. So make sure to check each individual image for its specific requirements.
Rawpixel: A collaborative approach to image sharing, Rawpixels offers a large variety of creative and authentic royalty-free images.
RGB Stock: Free photos for both personal and commercial use. Registration is required to access high-resolution photos and, because photos come from a variety of sources, attribution requirements vary. So make sure to check each individual image before use.
DesignerPics: This collection of images from web designer and developer Jeshu John are free for personal and commercial use. No attribution required.
Picography: A collection of high-quality Creative Commons images organized into a variety of categories, like food, landscapes, scenery and technology.
Snapwire Snaps: In addition to offering royalty-free images, this site also gives you the option to commission photographers for an additional fee (through Snapwire) for individual photos and custom content projects.
StockSnap.io: A collection of high-resolution stock photos free from copyright restrictions and attribution requirements, with new photos added weekly.
StockPhotos.io: This site compiles images from multiple sources, so attribution requirements may vary. Be sure to check each photo’s attribution requirements before using the image.
stockvault: Not only does stockvault offer a variety of free stock photos and graphics, they’re also constantly adding more high-resolution images (with new photos, textures and illustrations added daily) that don’t require attribution.
StokPic: Free stock photos available for any commercial use (except redistribution).
Foter: Foter features millions of free stock photos, making them one of the largest royalty-free collections on the internet. The site also offers a WordPress plugin that allows you to embed photos directly to your blog or website, which adds an extra layer of convenience. (Just make sure to add an attribution.)
123RF: While 123RF is better known for their millions-strong collection of premium images, they also have a library of free images available for download.
Unrestricted: Unrestricted offers vector and royalty-free stock photos that are approved for commercial use at zero cost.
Splitshire: In addition to selling premium photos, Italian photographer Daniel Nanescu has hundreds of free images available on his website for commercial use, with new photos being added all the time.
BigFoto: With a focus on global travel, BigFoto has a diverse collection of free images available for both personal and commercial use. Just make sure to check the individual photos for attribution requirements.
Gratisography: Looking for quirky images to add to your website? All the images at Gratisography, a collection of “quirky” photos shot by web designer and artist Ryan McGuire, are completely free of copyright restrictions.
Death to the Stock Photo: A unique royalty-free photo collection. You’ll need to sign up for their free newsletter to access and browse free photos, but when you do, they’ll send you 20 new images a month straight to your inbox. Just make sure not to distribute the images or claim them as your own, which violates their terms of service.
FreeMediaGoo.com: Free stock photos with no need for attribution. Many of the images on this site have smaller dimensions, so this might not be the best place to look if you’re in the market for more high-resolution photos.
HubSpot: The inbound marketing company donates photos for creative and marketing professionals to use. While they appreciate an inbound link to their photos, feel free to use these images as you wish—including for commercial purposes.
Jay Mantri: A collection of photos under the CC0 license from photographer Jay Mantri.
Picjumbo: This stock photo website offers a wide variety of free photos, with millions of downloads to date. Just make sure to check each image’s licensing terms, as some images have copyright or other restrictions.
Super Famous Studios: Super Famous Studios has a number of super interesting photos, with a focus on nature snaps. All photos are under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license, which means you’re free to use the photos as long as you credit the photographer—Dutch interaction designer Folkert Gorter.
Life of Pix: This collection of free photos comes from a variety of photographers, with a new photographer (and their images) highlighted every week.
Kaboompics: Fashion and food stock photos from Karolina Grabowska. Free of restrictions, but an attribution (and website link) is appreciated.
Fancy Crave: Fancy Crave creates free curated photo collections for a variety of topics and niches, like people, food and flowers.
FOCA: A library full of high-quality images that are free and available for commercial use under the CC0 license.
Free Photo Search Engines
VisualHunt: Why search for your own images when VisualHunt will do it for you? This photo stock search engine crawls over millions of Creative Commons images from third-party sites. Just make sure to filter by “Commercial Use” and add an attribution.
Every Stock Photo: Every Stock Photo is a photo search engine that will search nearly 30 million free photos. Just keep in mind that photos come from different sources, which means they’ll have different attribution requirements. So make sure to check each individual photo’s license before using it.
FindA.Photo: A mini search engine that combs through thousands of free and royalty-free images from third-party sites to help you find the image you need for your business.
Wylio: Wylio is a search engine that combs through millions of Creative Commons images to help you find what you’re looking for. The site also has a host of helpful features, like simple resizing (although in order to access all the website’s features, you’ll need to sign up for a paid account).
Unique Images for Niche Businesses
GetRefe: This collection of tech-focused images are all high-quality, royalty-free and free for commercial use.
Ancestry Images: Ancestry Images is a collection of images of antique prints, including maps, topographic prints and other genres. The site requires attribution to use their images and not all the images can be used for commercial use. So make sure to check each individual image before you use it in your business designs.
New Old Stock: Dozens of free vintage photos free from “known copyright restrictions.” Since they’re so vintage, most of these photos are past their copyright date.
NASA: The agency’s Flickr account features a collection of space-related images with no known copyright restrictions.
Dryicons: With a focus on icons and vectors, this site offers free image licenses (with some restrictions), as well as regular and extended paid licenses that allow for additional image rights.
PhotosEverywhere.co.uk: With a variety of high-resolution travel images from around the world, Photos Everywhere allows you to browse free Creative Commons images using their custom map graphic. The tool narrows down images by geographic region.
Startup Stock Photos: If you’re launching a new business, this business stock photo site from social media marketing company Sculpt could be a great resource. There are no copyright restrictions, but a link back to their website is appreciated.
Travel Coffee Book: A library of travel photos from around the world, all of which are under the CC0 license—meaning you can use them for whatever you’d like.
Free Nature Stock: Got a nature-based business? Free Nature Stock has a wide collection of royalty-free nature stock photos for any use, including commercial.
Photo Sharing/Contribution Sites
Creative Commons: We’ve mentioned Creative Commons more than a few times in this post—so why not go directly to the source for your images? Creative Commons allows you to search a variety of sources for free images (just make sure you select “Use for commercial purposes” before starting your search).
Flickr: Flickr is one of the world’s largest photo-sharing websites, making it a great place to find free photos to use by your business. While not every photo on Flickr has Creative Commons rights, you can filter your search by images available for commercial use. Just make sure to give an attribution credit to the photographer.
Wikimedia: A media file library that features both public domain and copyright-free images. Just make sure to check each author’s specific image terms and attribution requirements, as they vary by source.
Photo Pin: A large search navigation bar on the home page gives you access to millions of Creative Commons images. While this site is geared towards bloggers and creatives, you can find images for a number of business needs. Just keep in mind attribution is required.
Feeling Crafty? The Best Tools for Creating Your Own Images
Feeling crafty and want to give creating your own images a shot? Here are a few tools to help you get started:
Canva: Canva is an easy-to-use design tool that offers a variety of ready-made templates that you can use to make stunning graphics for your business. These include social media graphics, website images and marketing collateral.
PicMonkey: Similar to Canva, PicMonkey is a “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) visual editor for creating, designing and editing your own images.
Crello: Another free graphic design tool, Crello allows you to easily make and edit your own images for both social and web.
Easel.ly: If you want to take your business data and transform it into an impactful visual, try Easel.ly. The site offers infographic templates in a wide variety of layouts and styles.
Piktochart: Piktochart is another template design site that allows you to easily create a variety of images, including infographics, social media graphics and posters for your business.
Get the Royalty-Free Images You Need to Take Your Business to the Next Level
You need images to build a business. Royalty-free images offer small business owners the opportunity to get the images they need without spending their budget. This means you can put that budget towards other avenues for building and marketing your business.
And now that you know exactly where to find the best royalty-free images on the internet, all that’s left to do is get out there and find the royalty-free images you need to take your business to the next level. No budget required.
This post was updated in February, 2020.