Today I thought I’d share a few of my favorite places to find free images for websites (banner images, blog posts, etc.), since I’m looking for some myself right now for ze blog. (So meta!) All the sites below, as of this writing, provide their images freely for personal or commercial use. I recommend you verify this as you’re visiting the sites, and any other stock photo site you’re browsing. (If the license info isn’t immediately visible on their homepage or the page you’re downloading the image from, look for a navigation link called “License.”)
This list is short and sweet, designed to save you from wasting your brain cells on too many pictures of white people frolicking on beaches. You’re welcome.
Warning 1: Rabbitholes ahead. I suggest that you set aside a discrete chunk of time to look through stock image sites because otherwise you can easily find yourself clicking into the wee hours of the night and getting motion sick from all the scrolling (been there). Parkinson’s Law: “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” Set your timer, find some images, then move on with your to-do list.
Warning 2: When you’re downloading free stock images, it’s a good idea to take a screenshot of yourself downloading said image from the site with a clear indication that it was offered for free (which may be on a separate page on the site that you should screenshot). Save these images in the same folder you’re keeping your website stuff in. Why, you ask? Just in case you get sued by some shady jerk. (Thanks to Allison Puryear for giving us this heads-up!)
You can take a screenshot on a Mac by pressing Command+Shift+3 (for the whole screen) or Command+Shift+4 (if you want to drag to select just part of your screen).
You may have heard of this one, because it’s AMAZING. It’s always my first stop. The images are gorgeous and there are zillions of them. They also have “collections” you can check out to browse specific themes, and the search function works decently too. I tend to be drawn to the nature/floral/landscape images, but they’ve got some more industrial/urban images too if that’s your thing. Images with people in them seem to be less common here, so other sites might be better places to start if this is what you need.
Super high-quality images, many of which would work great as background or banner images on websites
Another site for high-quality photos with a mix of landscape/background images and more specific pics that would be suitable for blog posts, etc.
This site offers their four most recent themed “photo packs” for free on their site, with a monthly membership fee to access their whole collection ($15/month at the time of this writing). The photos are high quality and interesting (not your typical stock photo, hence the site name), so it’s worth popping in here for a quick look to see their free content du jour meets your needs.
I’m only giving you 4 options because we’re all about minimizing overwhelm here, yeah? If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for after going through these sites, check out Hubspot’s more comprehensive list of stock photo resources.
Free Stock Photos Featuring People of Color
If you’ve spent any time on stock photo sites, you already know that finding a POC in an image is frustratingly rare. Here are some free resources that address the imbalance:
PicNoi offers a good-sized collection of high-quality stock photos featuring POC. Many of them feature portrait-type close-ups, but there are a mix of images here that could be used for a variety of website-related purposes. Definitely worth checking out. You can also support their project by downloading their entire gallery in one file for $20.
A stock photo resource that focuses on Black women, this membership-style site ($7/month for access to over 1000 images) has a small free collection as well. These images seem to be more blog post-appropriate (close-ups of specific contexts/scenes).
If these sites aren’t getting you what you need, you can check out this list of paid stock photo options focused on POC and other underrepresented groups.