Aaron Patience-Davies shares five fantastic free image libraries.

Did you know that Getty (and Shutterstock et al) embed data in all their images that allow them to track unauthorised usage? I didn’t until one company I worked for got a bill for £50,000 because a marketing assistant had bunged a couple of images they found on Google into a website without checking the source. And Getty came after us, with a vengeance. Like death and taxes, they are relentless and unavoidable.

This doesn’t have to be you! There are many places where you can get good free and perfectly legal stock images as long as you spend some time looking. Here are five of our faves. But you still have to credit every image you use (you can use alt-text or captions to keep this subtle).

One big difficulty you’ll find in all of these site is searching for the right image. There aren’t much in the way of filters and the search relies entirely on the picture tagging. It’s frustrating, but if you are willing to put the time in you can get great results.



Along with Pexels and Pixabay, this is one of the OG free photo libraries and has managed to avoid the most cheesy type of stock photography. They started as a humble Tumblr blog but are now one of the biggies. Unsplash is particularly good for landscapes, nature and food.



This is a great companion to Unsplash as they have more people-oriented photography, even if some of it can verge dangerously close the cheese (lots of worryingly white-toothed people in suits). But that can have it’s own sort of appeal and can play well on corporate facing presentations.



The third of the massive free image libraries, there are over 2.3 million images here, so searching for the right one can be a real pain. There are more vector illustrations and textures than you will find on either Unsplash or Pexels which makes it super useful if you want something a little more abstract.



This is run by Shopify and unsurprisingly you find a lot of product-y shots here. But if you want a very stylish teapot, a faceless butcher carving a beef rib or something that would grace a fashion catalogue, this is your site.

Negative space


This is where you go for a curated collection of very stylish shots. As the name suggests, there a bunch of minimal and striking images. Not on the same scale as the rest of these sites in terms of numbers, you can find real gems here if you want to make an impact.



Main image: Photo by Olena Sergienko on Unsplash 

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