Update: We have received many complaints regarding some of the websites featured in this roundup. We recommend reading our more recent coverage of free stock photo sites instead: Where to Find the Best Free Stock Photos and 10 More Websites for Free Stock Photos.
1. Freerange Stock
You can get free stock photos on this site if you’re a registered user. Registration is free. According to their FAQ, you’re allowed to use their images on “commercial projects like websites, advertising, books, videos, and other commercial presentations.”
2. The Open Photo Project
This photo-sharing platform was created by Michael Jastremski in 1998 and is targeted towards artists, developers, students, and teachers. Contributions are offered under the Creative Commons license. It has a plain and simple interface for finding photos.
This site has a large gallery of over 395,000 stock photos contributed by more than 30,000 photographers. Search for specific images or browse through the nicely arranged categories such as “People” or “Sports.” They also have a nice collection of tutorials involving stock photography and image editing.
4. Imagebase: Free Stock Photography
Imagebase is a collection of Photographer David Niblack’s free stock photos. According to the website’s about page the images can be “freely used for personal, commercial, non-profit, artistic, or creative purposes.”
Over 35,000 images are available at Stockvault.net, including some amazing free textures. What’s neat about this site is that you don’t need to register in order to download the free stock photo resources. The site is also well-designed, allowing for quick and easy access to their photos. The site also has a selection of Photoshop tutorials covering basic image manipulation.
This 100% non-profit, ad-free site started in 2001 to make quality public domain photos available online. An interesting search method allows you to find photos by the predominant color it contains. No membership is required to download files.
This site is an archive of free stock photos. It’s been providing completely free high-resolution stock photos for illustration and design needs since 1996. A search log lets you see what’s currently most popular among site visitors. The morguefile classroom provides a set of ten focused lessons to help you take better pictures.
8. Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons has a massive database of over 15 million freely usable media files including images, video, and sounds. You can search by numerous criteria including topic, location, and source. Copy, use, and modify these files as you wish — just follow the licensing terms of each file.
9. Flickr: Creative Commons
Likely the biggest photo-sharing site on the Web, Flickr has a section devoted to content offered under the Creative Commons license. You can browse or search the content under each license type–this makes it easier to locate appropriate content for your blog or website.
10. Free Royalty Free Images (on Fotolia)
A large stock photo website with over 20 million premium royalty-free stock photos, Fotolia also offers some of its photos for free. Check back often as these images are constantly changing. Image sizes vary from about 425x280px up to 3,400×2,300px. Both crowd-sourced and professional images can be found on this site.
These are some of the best sites to find free stock photos on the Web.
I just want to reiterate one thing about using stock photos: Whether you pay for a photo or not, I suggest making sure that you’re using it under its licensing terms. If in doubt, contact the author for clarification.
By the way, Design Instruct also has a few free stock photos you can download.
There are plenty of other websites that provide free stock photos — but these 10 are my picks. What are your favorite websites for finding free stock photos? Discuss them in the comments!
* Thumbnail image: “Baby Smile” Photo credit: David Niblack Imagebase.net.