15 Free Stock Photo Sites for Startups and Small Businesses!

Are you a startup trying to attract initial momentum for your website?

You definitely need a content marketing strategy and part of it is having good imagery. Presumed that you don't have any means to provide your own photos, you can count on free stock photo sites to fill your website with beautiful, attractive images.

But you can't just lift an image from a regular Google search to use at your own will.


This is where free stock photo sites come into play, and these have been the saviour to startups and small businesses everywhere.

A free stock photo site lets you download pictures licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0). You can modify, copy, and even distribute the photos for personal and commercial use.

You will run no risk whatsoever of copyright infringement and best of all - they all have stunning, high-quality stock photos contributed by professional photographers from around the world. None of that tacky, toothy models in a dozen awkward poses.

But before we get to the "best of" list, there are some things you need to know about using free stock photos.

How to Use Free Stock Photos Without Getting Into Trouble

While you can use the photos to the fullest extent, you still have to familiarize yourself with certain fair use regulations. No one has the right to sell a CC0 photo as it is. Some contributors also do not want to see their works on websites that promote violence, crime, and racism. 

So it's always good to abide by some courtesy rules:

  • You don't need to ask for permission to use free stock photos but it's always good to inform the owner if you plan on using it, and where the image will appear. While their photos may be 'free', they might have some reservations about it appearing in certain 'sensitive' sites.
  • Always attribute ownership or credit to the original owner. If you can't find the original owner, insert a disclaimer that the image doesn't belong to you and that "if you are the original owner, please let me know so I can credit you accordingly."
  • Do not modify or change the photo. If you MUST modify it, get permission from the original creator in writing and ensure that you are abiding to 'fair use' limitations. 'Fair use' means the copyrighted material can be modified or reproduced within certain limitations. You can go here to find out more about fair usage.
  • Always source stock photos from trusted sites. That goes without saying, use free stock photo sites that fairly compensates creators for their original work. Every site on our list below comes highly recommended not just by us, but also other similar companies with a similar audience.

How to Optimize Images or Photos on Your Website for SEO

Google can read and understand the context behind text, but how does it know the contents of an abstract image?

Yes, it does this by reading the title and alt tag on your image.

In Wordpress, you can find this under 'Media' options.

 Image: In Wordpress, go to 'Media' and open any photo available to see its settings.

Image: In Wordpress, go to 'Media' and open any photo available to see its settings.

For more on Image SEO, we recommend reading our in-depth guide below.

READ: Image SEO: Updated Best Practices and Optimization for 2018

As a startup or small business, you don't want to run the risk getting penalties from Google or worse, get sued for using images that are copyrighted and don't belong to you. So here are some of the best stock photo sites we could find that will suit your business.

15 Best Free Stock Photo Sites for Startups and Small Businesses

1. Pexels


They have a huge library of photos and videos that you can use for your website. You may also use the visual content on social media.


2. Unsplash


You can do whatever you want with the photos without attributing Unsplash or the contributor. They have a wide selection of free high-resolution photos and beautiful HD wallpapers.


3. Magdeleine


When visiting the website, one could easily notice a tab that highlights the "photo of the day."


By clicking on a certain image, you will see more details other than the image size and the name of the contributor. It also indicates the camera used for that image.

They have the easiest to navigate website because you can use certain keys for command. For example, you can just press the "D" key if you want to download the picture.


4. Gratisography


This website is a project by Ryan McGuire, a self-taught artist, designer, and photographer. His team and the contributors from around the gobe keep adding new photos weekly. 


5. Foodiesfeed


Their goal is to make the online space related to food more beautiful. Jakub Kapusnak, an aspiring food photographer, started this website in 2015 without any programming or marketing skills. He only wanted to eliminate all the ugly sterile stock photos so he started giving away his own photos.


6. Splitshire


The name of the website is a combined word for "split" and "shire." To them, the shire refers to copyrights. Basically, it is like telling the people that everyone gets a piece of something.

You may use the photos for all commercial purposes, such as covers of eBooks, mobile apps, and ad materials. 


7. Picography


You will be welcomed with a gallery of high-resolution images. Most of the photos have nature and wildlife as the subjects. 


8. Skitterphoto


They have the "Admin picks" that you can see right away when you are on the homepage.


Once you clicked on an image, you see its number of views, number of downloads, as well as the likes. They also have a sidebar that displays the highest ranked photos of the contributor.


9. Pixabay


They have a wide array of categories, from the usual travel and food to animals, medical, and emotions. They also have free videos.


10. Moveast


This was started by Joao Pacheco, a Portuguese guy who shares his travel photos for free. Just recently, he uploaded pictures from his South Korea trip.

Just follow his Twitter where you will be notified about his new uploads.


11. Snapwire Snaps


Snapwire, a site that connects photographers to business, has a Tumblr blog where they upload the free stock photos. They give seven free photos every week. 


12. Cupcake


Jonas Wimmerstrom, a guy from Malmo, Sweden is the one behind this website. Aside from travel photos, a majority of his images show animals and food.


13. ISO Republic


Most of their photos display fashion, technology, people, and travel. The site is being managed by a small team of contributors.

Right now, they have over 3,000 photos but they keep adding every seven days.


14. Photo Collections


There is no "download" button so you have to click on a certain image, enlarge it, and right-click to save it.

The nice part is they have a Chrome Extension that allows users to see their high-resolution images when they open a new tab. 


15. Re:splashed


The website is supported by Formlets, a popular online form creator. You can easily navigate through the site and search the images based on their tags.

Have we missed out on some of your favorites? Add to the list by leaving a comment below and we'll mention you for the awesome share!

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