Using strong, high-quality imagery can help you create a professional video that delivers a strong message. Finding the right image, however, can be challenging. You can’t just do a Google image search and use whatever comes up, that’s a quick way to get sued!
You need to make sure that all the images you use are royalty free. Royalty free doesn’t necessarily mean there’s no cost to you. For paid images, it usually means you pay a licensing fee as a one-off cost, and can use it as many times as you want without giving attribution to the photographer or stock photo site.
Free images are typically licensed with Creative Commons copyright licenses, but not all of these allow you to use them for commercial purposes, and most require that you give attribution to the creator. You’ll want to ensure that the image you intend to use has the right license and that you follow the conditions of the license. Public domain images, however, are free for commercial use without attribution.
There are lots of places online to find copyright free images, but they can vary widely in price, quality, and ease of finding what you’re looking for. Below, we’ll break down the best places to find premium, cheap, and free stock photos.
Best places to find completely free images for commercial use.
The stock photo databases below offer images licensed with a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, which means they are completely free to use for any legal purpose without attribution to the creator.
With over 1.1 million free stock photos, illustrations, and vector images, Pixabay is the largest database of free images for commercial use. Though the database of images is quite large, the quality can be a bit hit or miss, with some images more snapshot-quality than professional photography.
Pexels offer more than 30,000 royalty free stock photos, with thousands more added every month. The Pexels database is curated from a community of photographers and other stock photo sites, including Pixabay.
Unsplash has a huge library of 200,000 free, high-resolution photos available to use for whatever you want. Unsplash’s collection veers toward artsy portraits and beautiful scenery, where Pexels and Pixabay’s images tend to be more like traditional stock photos. It’s a popular choice for high-quality images for blogs, when a more artistic image is desired.
Burst is a new free stock photo site powered by Shopify. The collection isn’t huge, but it’s nicely categorized into themed collections, and the images are specifically geared toward business and marketing purposes.
If you’re looking for an image that’s a little more whimsical or surreal, Gratisography is the place to go. The high-resolution images are free to use for any purpose, and are definitely more unique than anything you’ll find on other stock photo sites.
Other Free Stock Photo Sites
Here are a few more places to look for free stock photos. Since these collections are smaller, they may not have exactly what you’re looking for, but you may also find an image that hasn’t been overused by other creators.
StockSnap.io — With hundreds of new images added each week, this growing collection of stock photos is curated from user-submitted photos.
Picjumbo — A smaller collection of around 1500 free images with a variety of themes. These are created by a single artist, rather than a community of users, but there’s is still a good deal of variation.
FoodiesFeed — If you need food images, this collection of 800+ free culinary-themed images may have just what you need.
Death to Stock Photos — Sign up for this “anti-stock photo” newsletter to receive unique photo packs that aren’t your typical stock photo. There’s no searchable database though, unless you sign up for premium.
Flickr — Lastly, you can search on Flickr for images posted under Creative Commons CC0 (note that not all images on Flickr have this license.) However, because it’s entirely user-submitted, these copyright free images are not always professional quality so it can be difficult to find exactly what you’re looking for.