Shutterstock is one of the leading stock photo agencies on the web, super popular thanks to their high-quality stock images with ultimate commercial value, convenient subscription plans, and state-of-the-art software solutions for busy creatives.
While Shutterstock’s stock photo subscriptions and image packs are really affordable –we are talking of as little as less than twenty cents a photo–, they still require a bit of an upfront investment that not everyone is in the position to cover.
If this is your case, don’t worry too much, because we have taken it upon ourselves to save you the hassle of research, and we bring you the best free Shutterstock alternatives: a list of 18 deals and websites where you can download photos similar to Shutterstock’s, without having to pay a penny!
Licenses such as Creative Commons are a bit more ambiguous and non-backed-up than Royalty Free is, but it is still possible to use them safely, with a dose of due diligence.
For more information, read our guide to understand Creative Commons licensing.
So, without further ado, here are the top 18 free alternatives to Shutterstock.
#1 – Shutterstock Free Trial – Unbeatable!
The ultimate best free Shutterstock alternative comes from… Shutterstock itself! And no, we’re not crazy. It happens that Shutterstock now has a very cool 30-Day Free Trial, that lets you download up to 10 high-quality images or vector graphics of your choice, during one month, completely free of charge.
This trial is in fact forfeiting the cost of the first month from an annual subscription, meaning if you stay subscribed after the first month is up, you will be automatically charged for the next month –and the same will happen every month your account is active until the year is up–. If you don’t wish to pay for a Shutterstock subscription, you can simply cancel your account within the initial 30-day period, and you will not be charged a dime; and yes, you get to keep and use the 10 images you downloaded during the trial. Furthermore, you can cancel your plan whenever you want, paying the cancellation fees.
This is amazing not only because you can pick any of Shutterstock’s over 230 million images, but also because they are Royalty-Free stock images backed up by this renowned agency, so they’re as safe as they can be to use in business-related designs.
#2 – Adobe Stock Free Trial
With this offer, you can access a whole month of Adobe Stock, including 10 free high-resolution images, without having to pay. This is effectively an initial free month for a yearly subscription, which implies if you don’t cancel before the trial expires, you will be upgraded to the paid plan and charged for the following month, and every month you stay subscribed, for the rest of the year. However, it’s very easy to avoid this, by canceling your account within the first 30 days. And, you can also cancel your account at a later date if you wish, though in that case you’ll be charged cancellation fees.
Adobe Stock images are not only of high-quality and very varied but also are Royalty-Free and super safe to use in commercial projects.
For checking out even more free trials we recommend you to have a look at our free trials guide.
#3 – Photocase Free Credits
Photocase has a very simple way to grab a handful of free images from their unique, artsy, and fun-loving library, through our friends at Stock Photo Secrets: their exclusive Photocase Coupon Code gives you 5 free credits for downloading images at Photocase, as well as a 10% discount on your first purchase! What’s great is you can use these free credits to download any image you want from the catalog, and there is just so much to choose from!
Equally important, Photocase is a very serious stock photo agency and their images are under their professional-oriented, Royalty Free license, making them as safe as they can be to use for marketing and similar purposes.
#4 – Canva Pro Free Trial
Canva Pro is an innovative solution for creatives that includes an image editor, marketing tools, and access to a vast library with millions of stock photos and illustrations. Such service has a cost —unlike the regular Canva offer which is free to all, but much more limited–, but you can take advantage of a special, One-Month Free Trial for Canva Pro!
This trial gives you full access to Canva Pro, including the editor, the marketing and publishing features, the stock media library, and more, for 30 days, totally free of charge. The highlight here is that Canva Pro comes with unlimited image downloads, meaning during this month you can get as many files as you wish, all with the Canva-backed, Royalty Free license, perfect to use in marketing materials and personal projects alike.
This trial is an entry into their annual membership. If you stay subscribed after your first month ends, you will be charged for the subsequent month, and so on every month until your year is up. But you can always cancel the subscription while still on the free trial period and avoid charges altogether. Also, you can cancel the membership anytime afterward, pending cancellation fees.
The Canva Pro Free Trial is ideal for non-designers, give it a try!
#5 – Picspree
Picspree is a free stock photo site with the great added value of being backed up by the prestigious stock photography agency, Getty Images –who also owns iStock, previously known as iStockphoto–. The stock photographs are high resolution, and they issue a custom license that authorizes commercial usage.
#6 – PikWizard
PikWizard is a free stock photo library by professional stock media powerhouse WaveBreak Media, offering commercial-ready, professional images for free. Their content is under their own custom license which covers use in commercial-oriented work.
#7 – Unsplash
Unsplash is a very popular free photo site/photography community where you can find a mix of artsy and commercial-style shots, in high quality. Their custom licensing terms include commercial purposes, so they’re fine to use in marketing.
#8 – Pexels
Pexels is a free stock photo aggregator, meaning the site offers images directly uploaded to their platform as well as others they collect from around the web. The variety is considerable, and they are under the custom, Pexels license that covers commercial use.
#9 – SplitShire
SplitShire is a website owned by a photographer, who offers his own images for free download and use. The style is very commercial and the custom license enables marketing purposes which is a perfect combination.
#10 – Burst
Burst is a free stock photo offer by e-commerce platform Shopify. As such, it provides modern, promotional-styled photos intended for e-shops and digital marketing. Images are either under a custom license, or under Creative Commons Zero (CC0), both allowing commercial use.
#11 – Gratisography
Gratisography is a free stock photo site hosting artistic, fun-style photos by a conceptual artist, making them perfect for out-of-the-box designs. The custom license issued with each image permits commercial-oriented use.
#12 – Life of Pix
Life of Pix is a free image site managed by a digital marketing agency, so it’s no surprise the photos on offer are commercial in a fresh, more artistic way. All their images are in the Public Domain, so free to use in any way including commercial projects.
#13 – Foter
Foter is a free photo aggregator that gathers free images from the web and offers them organized in different categories. They add value with inspiration and tips for interior design and product marketing. Images are all under Creative Commons license requiring attribution, so while they are ok to use commercially, you need to verify the copyright info and make sure to credit the author.
#14 – Reshot
Reshot is a website hosting a large collection of free, trending photos. The custom license enables commercial use, and an added perk is the integration with popular social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
#15 – Rawpixel
Rawpixel is a site that focuses on authentic, non-stock stock photos, and they offer thousands of them for free –others are premium and thus, under a pricing system–. The custom license covers use with commercial finality.
#16 – Kaboompics
Kaboompics site hosts thousands of free photos all shot by the same photographer (and site owner), with a marked inclination for nature and a rustic, authentic style that vibes great with Instagram. Images are under a custom license that grants use in commercial-aimed designs.
#17 – PicJumbo
PicJumbo is the free stock photo site of a photographer, who offers 2000+ of his own images, free of charge. While they are under the Creative Commons Zero license, the artist goes out of his way to make them commercially safe, by ensuring people and brands in the photos remain unrecognizable.
#18 – Flickr Creative Commons
Flickr is one of the largest photography communities on the web, and it allows users to upload their own work and make it available for everyone under a Creative Commons license. Then, you can filter those Creative Commons images and download them to use in your work, for free. Just remember CC images require a little extra work in background checking for legal safety.
Rock your Low-Cost Designs with Free Shutterstock Alternatives
Shutterstock with its amazing royalty-free stock photos is one of the best ways to ensure professional, high-quality visuals for your projects at affordable rates. But if you can’t afford a Shutterstock subscription, these free Shutterstock alternatives are the next best thing!
In any of these 18 stock photo websites, you will find high-quality photos that, even if they aren’t quite Shutterstock’s, are very close. And they are free!
Don’t forget, the absolute best alternative is the Shutterstock Free Trial!
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