27 of the Best Free Stock Photo Sites to Use in 2020

27 of the Best Free Stock Photo Sites to Use in 2020

In the age of digital marketing, there is perhaps no resource quite as valuable as free stock photography. Whether you are looking for the subject of your next Instagram post or content for your next marketing proposal, the best free stock photo sites are the ones that can provide the kind of thoughtful, high-definition artistic content that entrepreneurs and influencers alike can benefit from.

In this guide, we are going to present you with a list of the Top Free Stock Image Sites of the year, breaking it all down by content, style, and functionality. We are also going to take the time to describe how each site handles its stock content licensing, which is an essential consideration when making the decision to integrate stock photos or images into your next project.

If you are looking for a different kind of stock content for your next artistic, commercial, or retail project, then you should also check out our list of the Top Stock Photo Catalogues, which also takes into account the different subscription-based content plans that are available.

But for the artists and upstarts who aren’t there yet, FREE stock photo sites are the only viable option, and luckily for them, there are more of these than ever before.

List of the 27 Best Free Stock Photo Sites to Use in 2020

If you’re looking for stock photography for your business, then you are going to need to pay attention to the licensing and copyright restrictions that are attached to the specific image you are looking to use. While some stock providers make it very easy to know whether or not an image can be used commercially, other websites make it entirely too complicated.

Knowing the ins and outs of stock photography license types is essential for anyone who oversees a digital marketing campaign. Because some of the image sites listed here are what is known as aggregators, they might be offering you free stock images with different copyright restrictions placed upon them.

It is the responsibility of the user to know what restrictions, if any, are applied to the specific image in question. While the stock photography websites that we feature here are built to provide images that are free of copyright protection, there are many instances where this does not apply, such as when the image is being merchandised.

The Top Free Stock Photo Sites of 2020

Pixabay – High Definition Stock Photos

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Designed by a team of German technology experts, Pixabay has grown from a small crowd-sourced photography project to one of the most reputable, fully-stocked stock image sites on the web. With over 1 million files to choose from and an open submissions policy, Pixabay makes it easy to find the exact image you are looking for. To learn more about them, check out our Pixabay review.

License Information: Creative Commons Zero (also known as CC0) which means that no attribution is required for commercial purposes.

What We Love:

  • Pixabay’s technical functionality is simply unmatched. Paired with their impressive catalog, this is one of our go-to stock image sites.

What We're Not Crazy About:

  • The user-submission system is a cool idea, but it can lead to legal technicalities in rare cases

9Expert Score
Verdict: Highly Recommended

A large catalogue and high-performance German functionality make this one of the most reliable options for free stock photos.

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Unsplash – Images with Artistic Flair

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In what began as a Tumblr blog that allows professionals to take advantage of other people’s “leftover” photography, Unsplash has become one of the most highly relied upon sources for free stock images and photography. Today their collection is over one half million images and counting, and their contributor profile pages are a unique feature. To learn more about them, check out our Unsplash review.

License Details: Unsplash operates off of their own creative use license, which operates like CC0 but does not allow image compiling.

What We Love:

  • Fresh, artistic photography that has a certain style you can’t find elsewhere

What We're Not Crazy About:

  • Crowd-sourced images can lead to a certain degree of legal liability

9Expert Score
Verdict: Highly Recommended

A unique and stylistic collection of user-submitted stock images.

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PikWizard – Professionally Sources Stock Photography

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Unlike some of the free stock photography databases out there, PikWizard sources all of its images from professional creators, which has allowed their collection to become one of the most unique in their class. While their library is not as large as some of the other providers, their team of professional, well-known contributors makes this site a true gem. To learn more about them, check out our PikWizard review.

License Details: Custom; images can be used for commercial purposes without charge, but a “sensitive use” clause prohibits use in resale products.

What We Love:

  • PikWizard’s Design Wizard editing tool is a great bonus feature that lets users access quick, on-page editing and text addition.

What We're Not Crazy About:

  • The website design is not as sleek as some of PikWizard’s closest competitors, but it does not affect functionality.

9Expert Score
Verdict: Very Recommended

PikWizard’s built-in quick editing tool is one of the easiest ways to add text to a stock image almost instantaneously.

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Pexels – Trend Setting Stock Photography

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As a full-features stock photography aggregator, Pexels has the unique ability to compile, organize, and display hundreds of thousands of images either from individual contributors or from other stock photo websites. Anyone who is also looking for stock video can rely on Pexels, though their video collection is still growing. To learn more about them, check out our Pexels review.

License Details: Creative Commons Zero (CC0)

What We Love:

  • The Pexels Photoshop Plugin is a very handy feature for professional designers, and in general their image collection feels very current and vibrant.

What We're Not Crazy About:

  • As an image aggregator, it can sometimes be difficult to determine the original source of an image, presenting possible licensing complications for some users.

9Expert Score
Verdict: Very Recommended

The overall design, layout, and functionality of the Pexels webpage is astounding … truly something for other stock image sites to shoot for.

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Life of Pix – A Curated, Artistic Collection of Free Photos

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The Canada-based digital marketing agency LEEROY operates Life of Pix as a smaller, more boutique stock photo website that has put their entire catalogue in the public domain, making it easier for creative professionals to avoid the hidden copyright infringements that sometimes come with free stock images.

License Details: All the photos available at Life of Pix are in the public domain, which means that none of them are under copyright restrictions and are therefore generally safer to use.

What We Love:

  • The detailed curation leads to an impressively artistic catalogue of stock images, and they host a stock video-collection as well.

What We're Not Crazy About:

  • Public domain can be a great way to source copyright-free images, but it is not easy to tell where all the photos at Life of Pix were sourced from.

8.5Expert Score
Verdict: Very Recommended

Even with their Public Domain licensing, Life of Pix is operated by a reputable company with the resources to properly secure image rights.

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Picspree – A Rapidly Growing Stock Photo Collection

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Everyone knows that Getty Images has one of the most impressive stock image libraries on the planet, so when you find a small image source like Picspree that is a part of the Getty family, then you can trust that you are getting high quality images in a fast and effective way. Picspree’s catalogue is in the midst of impressive growth, so you can expect thousands of new images to be available every time you visit.

License Details: A worldwide, perpetual custom license means that no attribution is required, but permissions may have to be sought from the author for retail use.

What We Love:

  • Fresh, professional photos are great for both evergreen content and time-sensitive marketing material

What We're Not Crazy About:

  • Images of people are less common in the Picspree catalogue, and the overall licensing terms are somewhat murky compared to others.

9Expert Score
Verdict: Very Recommended

One of the best “new-kid-on-the-block” free image sites with a very reliable web framework and search function.

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Gratisography – Stock Photos with an Experimental Quality

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Created and maintained by a single individual photographer, Gratisography uses personally-authored photographs and images for absolutely no charge. This means that you are getting unique images that you are not going to see anywhere else … images that can lend an intimacy to your campaign or project. To learn more about them, check out our Gratisography review.

License Details: Custom license with sensitivity clause for brands & trademarks

What We Love:

  • The photos here are very unique, very intimate, and don’t appear on the larger image aggregators.

What We're Not Crazy About:

  • The image collection is quite small

9Expert Score
Verdict: Very Recommended

A small but unique collection of images created and hosted by a single author.

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NegativeSpace – Free and Trendy Stock Photography

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NegativeSpace utilizes a complex portfolio review process that allows content creators to have their submissions reviewed by the NegativeSpace curation team. The result is an expansive but one-of-a-kind image library that provides dynamic visual material in a number of different topics and styles.

License Details: Creative Commons Zero (CC0)

What We Love:

  • A detailed image-approval process that increased the overall quality of the images

What We're Not Crazy About:

  • There isn’t a whole lot of information on who runs this page and what process they use for validifying user-submitted image licenses

8.5Expert Score
Verdict: Very Recommended

A stock photo source with great images but somewhat lacking in terms of licensing and copyright confidence.

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SplitShire – Unique, Professional, Personally-Curated Stock Images

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Built by professional photographer Daniel Nanesou, the website SplitShire hosts an impressive collection of personally-curated content that spans a number of different themes and topics, all of which can be downloaded and used in your next project totally free of charge.

License Details: Custom creative license with sensitive use clause

What We Love:

  • Trendy, unique images that a clearly the product of a passionate professional

What We're Not Crazy About:

  • A more modestly sized image library than the “big boys”

9Expert Score
Verdict: Very Recommended

While the library here is a bit small, professional photographer Daniel Nanesou has managed to create a sleek, modern stock image site with real staying power.

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Skitterphoto – Multi-Sourced Images on a Variety of Subjects

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One of the primary strengths of the Skitterphoto collection is that the images are sourced from a number of different locations, including user submissions and from the personal collection of one of the founders themselves. With photos and images on a number of different subjects, this is a great place to find some free stock imagery with built-in artistic value.

License Details: Creative Commons Zero (CC0)

What We Love:

  • A good blend of commercial and personal images

What We're Not Crazy About:

  • User submitted photos under CC0 are not as safe when it comes to copyright

9Expert Score
Verdict: Highly Recommended

A valuable collection if high-value images created and hosted by a passionate group of professional photographers.

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Burst – Free Stock Photos with the Business Owner in Mind

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Burst was created in 2017 by the online shopping giant Shopify in order to provide potential e-shop owners with a dynamic way to peddle their wares. Today, Burst has a massive library of high-resolution images that are particularly effective at driving e-commerce for clients in a number of different industries.

License Details: Creative Commons Zero (CC0) and a custom license with a sensitive use clause

What We Love:

  • Authentic, trendy, and professional-grade photos that were made with commercial endeavors in mind.

What We're Not Crazy About:

  • The fact that they have two licenses that are pretty much identical can be confusing for some users

8Expert Score
Verdict: Awesome

This Shopify-powered stock image source can be trusted to provide free images for commercial use because that is what they were created for.

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New Old Stock – Historic Images with a Vintage Feel

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Another stock image site that began as a passionate Tumblr project, New Old Stock offers historic, vintage, and old-timey images and photographs that can be used to give your project an authentic old-world vibe. Many of the images are sourced from pre-existing free-use libraries, so all of the pictures can be trusted to be free from copyright restrictions.

License Details: All images are public domain so there is no attached copyright, but the individual images are subject to the terms of the aggregator that they came from (Flickr, etc.)

What We Love:

  • The best place to get historic images and vintage photographs that are free-use

What We're Not Crazy About:

  • Any site that pulls from multiple aggregators is going to be more time consuming because the user has to look up different licensing terms depending on the source.

9Expert Score
Verdict: Awesome

A great selection of vintage, historic, and “old-timey” photos that cannot be found elsewhere.

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Rawpixel – Subscription-Based Collection Great for Social Media

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While the aesthetic-forward Rawpixel host's libraries of both “premium” and “free” image sets, it still manages to provide an impressive collection of no-charge pictures that are ideally suited for your next Instagram campaign. There is something particularly hip about this collection; every picture looks fresh, new, and exciting … the perfect combination for an effective visual campaign. Make sure to check out our rawpixel review as well.

License Details: Custom license with sensitive use clause

What We Love:

  • Visually exciting images from a collection that is reliably trendy

What We're Not Crazy About:

  • The search results page shows both free and premium content; anyone looking for free stock photos needs to activate the “free” filter on the sidebar.

9Expert Score
Verdict: Great

Take one look at their library and you will see why people are calling this one of the best free photo sources for Instagram marketing.

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27 of the Best Free Stock Photo Sites to Use in 2020 14Styled Stock – Boutique Feminine Images with Versatility

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As one of the smallest image collections on the internet, Styled Stock has managed to carve out a little niche piece of the stock photography game by providing unique images with a defined theme of femininity. While the number of photos available is particularly limited, this is a great source for someone who knows exactly what they’re looking for.

License Details: Custom license with full copyright held & maintained by the owner

What We Love:

  • A niche stock photo library with feminine-styled images and a handy built-in color filter

What We're Not Crazy About:

  • The collection is quite small

7Expert Score
Verdict: Great

Though small, this is a specialized image library with dynamic, feminize-based images that are safe for commercial use.

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Libreshot – Free Photography with a Fine Art Flair

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Just like many of the other free stock photo sites out there, Libreshot does not offer a whole lot of images of human beings, but rather, the rich and vibrant world that human beings exist in. Powered by the photography of Martin Vorel, Libreshot offers some of the brightest and most visually dynamic stock photography.

License Details: Restriction-free Creative Commons / Public Domain License

What We Love:

  • A unique and artistic collection of photography with an eye for the beautiful and the abstract

What We're Not Crazy About:

  • Lacking in photographs and images of people

7Expert Score
Verdict: Recommended

Anyone looking for artistic, high-resolution images with an “artsy” feel to them would to well to start with Libreshot.

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StockVault – Crowdsourced Stock Photography from Around the Globe

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With over 110,000 images and a number of different licensing options available, StockVault is a reputable and growing mid-size image source that features content from artists all over the globe. No matter what your creative purpose, there is a good chance that you can find what you need at StockVault.

License Details: Multiple different licenses available depending on the contributor

What We Love:

  • A decent amount of images and files for a relatively unknown stock photo source … all of them curated and filtered for quality

What We're Not Crazy About:

  • Not all of the images available on StockVault are available for commercial use

7Expert Score
Verdict: Quite Good

With over 110,000 unique images that have been curated and screened for quality, this is a good source for stock images that is a bit limited on the licensing options.

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PicJumbo – Unique, Commercially Viable Stock Photos

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PicJumbo is another of the smaller, “boutique” stock image sites that have been rising in popularity over the last few years. Because small personal collections like these can sometimes be found in the bigger aggregators, the contributor (in this case photographer Viktor Hanacek) can continue to provide versatile imagery that has a built-in commercial appeal. You find the picjumbo review here.

License Details: Creative Commons Zero (CC0)

What We Love:

  • A small but vibrant collection of images from a professional photographer who knows how to compose a commercial image

What We're Not Crazy About:

  • The images are very commercial in nature, which can be a benefit but can also mean that additional image sources are going to be required to achieve a well-rounded effect

8Expert Score
Verdict: Great

This is a stock photography collection that was quite clearly created by someone with a trained commercial eye.

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Freerange – A Varied Image Library with Contemporary Topics

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With several thousand stock images available for use, Freerange is a good option for anyone who is looking for contemporary imagery that you don’t need to pay for. With a good blend of in-house content and contributor-sourced images, there is a pretty good chance that you will be able to boost your marketing plan with images pulled from Freerange.

License Details: Two different license options depending on the image, either Equalicense or CC0.

What We Love:

  • A good collection-based organization system for a small image company

What We're Not Crazy About:

  • Somewhat lacking in the high-definition department

7Expert Score
Verdict: Recommended

A good amount of stock images that can be used immediately, but the in-house produced images are going to be safer than their contributor sourced content.

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Kaboompics – Stock Photography Design for Social Media

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If there is one trend that is changing the way that influencers and web-business are engaging with their audience, it is the rise of small, personally-sourced stock image libraries like those created by Karolina Grabowska of Kaboompics. Here users will find over 8,000 artistically composed imaged that were composed and captured with modern social media in mind. Kaboompics review can be found here.

License Details: Custom license with sensitive use clause

What We Love:

  • This is a collection of photos and images that look as if they were created specifically for effective social media engagement

What We're Not Crazy About:

  • The image topics are somewhat unbalanced in terms of content levels, but the library is always growing.

8Expert Score
Verdict: Great

A collection of social-media-ready images that are sure to effectively engage an audience.

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FoodiesFeed – Delicious Hi-Res Food Photos

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Food is one of the most commonly addressed topics in social media culture, and why shouldn’t it be? FoodiesFeed is a culinary-centric stock image site that is comprised of the skillful work of Jakub Kapusnak, an artist who clearly knows how to capture the heart of a dish, the spirit of an ingredient, or simply a composition that makes the mouth water.

License Details: Creative Commons Zero (CC0)

What We Love:

  • All of the images on FoodiesFeed are presented in high resolution and can be sorted by topic

What We're Not Crazy About:

  • The website has a good number of ads that can be a bit distracting

9Expert Score
Verdict: Recommended

The best place to go for high-resolution food photos.

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Rgbstock – A Trusted Source for Quality Stock Content

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In internet years, a decade is a long time, and if you can last that long as a business then you must be doing something right. Rgbstock has over 100,000 free stock photos in its collection and every one of them is reviewed for quality standards, so you’re not just fishing in a pond of mediocrity.

License Details: A custom creative license with a creative use clause

What We Love:

  • A built-in direct messaging system lets contributors know when their work is being used; this can be handy when trying to confirm licensing rights

What We're Not Crazy About:

  • Some of the pictures feel a bit dated compared to newer or larger stock photo sites.

8Expert Score
Verdict: Recommended

A functional built-in messaging system and 100,000+ stock image library make Rgbstock a valuable design resource.

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MMT Stock – Free Stock Photos of Nature and the Workplace

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Powered by the nature and workplace photography of artist Jeffrey Betts, MMT Stock is a collection of free images that can be used in whatever creative or commercial project that you are looking to complete. There is an absence of people-centered photos, which no doubt makes licensing and permissions easier for everyone involved.

License Details: Creative Commons Zero (CC0)

What We Love:

  • High-end images of nature and workplaces with a built-in wallpaper creating tool

What We're Not Crazy About:

  • A significant lacking of photos with human beings in them

7Expert Score
Verdict: Recommended

This quality curated collection focuses on workplace photos and nature imagery, but is lacking on people pics.

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Good Stock Photos – Stock Image Source that is True to Its Name

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The artist, web designer, and marketer Steven Ma decided to call his new photo venture Good Stock Photos for a reason: because that is precisely what he provides with his personally-sourced collection of stunning, high-color stock photography. This collection features a balanced mix of travel, social, landscape, and urban-inspired imagery that is perfect for blog writing and social media posts.

License Details: Custom license with specific restrictions on compiling and redistributing

What We Love:

  • A great mix of topics and categories to search by

What We're Not Crazy About:

  • Better for blogs and editorials than commercial projects

8Expert Score
Verdict: Very Recommended

Designed by a marketer and web developer, Good Stock Photos hosts a number of high-definition images that are great for blogs and newspapers.

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Startup Stock Photos – Free Stock Images for Startup Businesses

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Just like the name suggests, Startup Stock Photos is a trusted resource for free stock photography for a fledgling business that are just starting to get off the ground. The pictures here have an authentic, genuine feel to them that is sure to ring true with investors, customers, and employees alike as you grow your business from the ground up.

License Details: Creative Commons Zero (CC0)

What We Love:

  • A thoughtful stock photo collection that will prove to be an invaluable resource for anyone who is starting a business

What We're Not Crazy About:

  • The search functionality is somewhat lacking

7Expert Score
Verdict: Recommended

This stock photography collection based on images related to business startups is a must-have for any entrepreneur.

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StockSnap.io – Creative & Crowdsourced Image Solutions

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Anyone who is familiar with the graphic design tool Snappa will be pleased to know that the very same developers are now the proud owners and operators of StockSnap.io, a free stock image site that provides easy access to tens of thousands of free stock images with a modern, style-conscious aesthetic.

License Details: Creative Commons Zero (CC0)

What We Love:

  • Current photos that don’t feel old or outdated

What We're Not Crazy About:

  • The crowd-sourced image catalogue can be a liability for some commercial licensing applications

8Expert Score
Verdict: Recommended

A great source for high-resolution stock imagery suitable for a wide range of digital marketing purposes.

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ISO Republic – An Artist-Curated Stock Photo Library

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Sometimes, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to make a splash in the digital photo scene, and ISO Republic is a prime example of what we’re talking about. With many thousands of high-quality images ready for download, ISO Republic is a good place to check out if you are still on the hunt for quality marketing content.

License Details: Creative Commons Zero (CC0)

What We Love:

  • A wide selection of stock photography in a number of contemporary topics … a little something for everyone

What We're Not Crazy About:

  • We are simply not huge fans of the combination between user-submitted content and Creative Commons Zero licensing structure

7.5Expert Score
Verdict: Recommended

A fantastic all-around stock photography website ran by a passionate team of artistic individuals.

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Fancy Crave – Inspiring Travel-Focused Stock Photography

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While travel-based photography is certainly not the only thing that you are going to find at Fancy Crave, one of the newest micro-stock companies on the web, it certainly seems to be what they do best. This is a well-curated collection of modern, place-based photography that has a significant commercial appeal from the first time you lay eyes on it.

License Details: Creative Commons Zero (CC0)

What We Love:

  • A wonderfully easy-to-look-at site that is full of curated, high-quality stock photography with a penchant for themes of travel and destination.

What We're Not Crazy About:

  • Yet another slightly unsavory combination of CC0 and user-submitted content, but it should scare anyone away from having a look

7.5Expert Score
Verdict: Recommended

A good full-spectrum stock photography source with a contemporary catalog and an innovative technical design that makes it easy to use.

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BONUS SEGMENT: Getting FREE Stock Photos from PAID Stock Photo Agencies

Any business owner or marketing professional who has been in the game will tell you: there is nothing that can quite compare with the quality, reliability, and legality of a royalty-free stock photo from one of the “big boys”, or in other words, the best stock photo websites around.

This should come as a surprise to no one, seeing as how the old maxim of you get what you pay for seems to be truer and truer as the world continues to spin.

However, if you are looking for the best stock photography and you aren’t too keen on paying full price, then you are in luck. Our team has compiled a list of the best ways to score free pictures from the world’s best stock photo sites:

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What’s Your Favorite Free Stock Photo Site?

The 27 different stock photography companies that we featured here are, perhaps not surprisingly, only a small fraction of what is actually available to marketers and content specialists who are looking for a way to integrate free stock photos into their next campaign or project.

If there is a free stock photo website that we left out, be sure to let us know in the comments section We are always on the lookout for reliable, high-quality sources of free stock photos.

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