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Bloggers, and more, bloggers that are on Pinterest, know how important it is to have appealing visuals to attract visitors. But finding out where to find free stock photos is very time-consuming, especially if you want your images to be original and in the same or right style.
This is why good, high-quality stock photos, or better, stock images are so important.
Now, before I continue and show you where to get the best free stock photos, I have to explain a bit more about stock images and the right to use them.
About Stock Photo Licenses
I’m sure that you have visited a page once and saw an image, photo or illustration, that was perfect for your post.
Some people can’t resist the temptation to download that image and use it.
I actually know people that did this, often based on the assumption that everything on the internet is free. They aren’t ill-willed, just a little naive. It’s safer to assume that nothing on the internet is free.
Although I am not a lawyer, I can tell from the experience these same people had that naivety will not be seen as a valid excuse when you receive a claim from a legal department representing the photographer.
They ended up paying 4-figure fines.
If you have images on your blog and you are not sure if you are entitled to use them, remove them immediately.
I’m not kidding, do it now!
“But this picture is used by everybody…” – No!
“I used Google’s Usage Rights filter…” – No!
“It’s not the original, just a thumbnail…” – No, no, stop!
Trust me, don’t take the risk. It is not worth it and there is a good alternative available.
There are literally millions of high-quality stock photos that you can use for free. You just need to know where to find them.
Finding Free Stock Sites
The first way to get free stock photos is to download them from free stock photo sites. Often you don’t need to register, but it helps if you do. Some will keep a history, which may be usefull if you want to see when you downloaded an image.
These sites offer high-quality stock photos that you may use for almost any purpose, without paying for them.
Quality is important, and you will find that the best sites are pretty selective in what the publish.
Other terms that may apply consider the use of images with identifiable people or selling unaltered pictures. Take a little time to find out what you are allowed to do with an image. It’s free, you can spare a minute.
The biggest advantage of a free stock photo site is also its biggest problem. There are so many photographers and artists that upload their images and they all have their own style.
Next to your logo, the typography, and colors you use, images contribute heavily to the perception of your brand.
You want to maintain consistent styling in the images you use in your posts and on social media, in order for your readers and followers to immediately recognize it as yours.
Therefore it’s not just the question of where to find free stock photos, but also which stock pictures meet your styling requirements.
Finding images in the same style may be time-consuming, so following a couple of artists or finding resources that already match your style will save you time.
Styled and Feminine
At the moment my main audience is on Pinterest.
Understanding your audience’s preferences is incredibly important. If you want to connect with them, you need to speak the same language, in words, but also in styling.
Pinterest offers you a lot of tools to analyze your audience and it tells me that 75% of my audience is female.
About half my audience is between 18 to 34 years old.
Chances are that, forgive me the generalizations, unfiltered images of garages or cars will not be appealing to my audience.
The ‘Categories and interests’ also tells me that health, food, design, education, entertainment, fashion, and home decor are topics that my audience love.
Unless you have great psychological insights or are a natural trendsetter, the best course of action is to follow the lead of others and see if you can optimize or tweak what you learn from them.
So, researching these categories learns that styled and feminine images seem to fit best and are also used by a lot of other Pinners.
I love Unsplash and I use it a lot for all kinds of things.
When I first started this blog I used Unsplash for a lot of posts.
In the past months, I started using fewer photos for my blog posts and I made a shift towards a certain style of photos for my pins. Sometimes I experiment a little, but I believe that the more feminine visuals are better suited.
Unsplash has some amazing feminine images that are definitely worth checking out: the Unsplash website.
To be honest, I just recently discovered Pexels while doing research for this post.
It’s not that they are that new or small, on the contrary!
Pexels has been around since 2014 and they have an amazing collection of beautiful stock images you can use for all kinds of purposes.
If you happen to be a Canva user, you will recognize a lot of the images as Canva has acquired Pexels.
I particularly like their collection of styled images. Take a look at them at Pexels.
Pixabay definitely deserves a place on this list.
With 2 million+ stunning and free images, this is a great resource for everybody that wants to find professional free stock images.
Together with Pexels, they were acquired by Canva, so you will recognize a lot of these photos in Canva too.
If you like to edit your images, then design elements can’t be missed in your workflow. Check out their collection of design elements: Pixabay
Here is a shortlist of other high-quality free stock photo sites:
4. Reshot – Authentic curated collection of free stock images
5. Styled Stock – A smaller, but stylish collection
6. Kaboompics – Find the right stock photo in the right color!
7. Burst – Powered by Shopify
8. StockSnap – Beautiful free stock photos
9. Picjumbo – Get the new photos mailed to you
Getting Stock Photos from Freebies
There are a lot of artists and agencies that offer free samples of what they have in store for you.
I really like this way of exploring what they have to offer. Often you will find bonus material in your inbox after the first weeks or month and I do like to read the extra tips & tricks in the newsletters.
It is also a great way to get to know their style and the type of images they offer.
If it matches the styling you are looking for then becoming a customer may save you a lot of time!
Here is a small list of fantastic sites that offer you free, styled, feminine samples to use.
1. She Bold Stock
Jasmine is dedicated to your success. She will give you tips on branding and even on lifestyle topics.
And of course, there are images. Lots of images! And they are gorgeous!
Don’t believe me on my word, sign up for their newsletter and get 20 images for free to see for yourself!
Take a look: She Bold Stock.
2. Ivory Mix
20 free images sound great, but how does 550 sound?
Kayla Marie Butler has created an amazing site with gorgeous and consistent-styled images that will make a great asset for your posts.
If you subscribe to Ivory Mix you will get access to over 550 free photos and more! She also has free guides and marketing resources.
Go check it out, you won’t be disappointed, I promise! Here’s the Ivory Mix website.
3. Haute Stock
Just by taking a look at the website, you will know that Haute Stock fits all the right styling preferences.
After signing up you will receive free stock images, but also additional visual branding and marketing tips.
Grab it here: Haute Stock
4. CreateHER Stock
While searching for authentic stock photography that featured women looking more like her self, Neosha Gardner founded CreateHER Stock to fill in this gap.
The result is a beautiful collection of images that have an authentic and personal feeling.
There is a set of ‘older’ freebies containing over 180 images, but I’m going to let you search for it yourself. And while you are on her website: join her email tribe to get updates on fresh freebies!
Check it out: CreateHER Stock
5. Styled Stock Society
I am going to end this freebie list with a link to Styled Stock Society.
Be careful! These images are really gorgeous and you risk losing track of time by browsing through the collection previews.
This awesome website has thousands of styled and feminine, stock photos that are incredible.
Grab a sample of 20 free ones to see for your self: Styled Stock Society
More freebies can be found on these websites:
6. The Stock Boutique – sign up for free images
7. Sage Media – free kick-starter pack of photos
8. Pixistock – free photos, graphics, and a content plan
9. A lot of paid stock sites have weekly, monthly, or new subscribers freebies. For instance: Shutterstock, Dreamstime, and 123RF
Paying to Get Free Stock Photos
I know, I know, worst title ever, but I couldn’t come up with a better description of what this category is.
What I basically mean is that upgrading to a paid plan on design tools you already use may come with some additional benefits.
If you run a blog, you are going to use tools to edit and create visuals for your posts and social media. And most tools already include a lot of stock images in their free plans.
The real gems however are often part of a paid plan and these apps offer access to a bigger volume of images when you go pro.
Now, don’t upgrade just for the images. If that is the only reason, you will probably be better off subscribing to a paid plan or buying credits on a stock site.
However… If you want to use these tools to the fullest, then these plans will give you additional access to insane amounts of high-quality stock images that you can use.
It also reduces the need to know where to find free stock photos as you have everything in one spot.
Top of the list, without a doubt.
Canva already has hundreds of thousands of awesome free stock images (remember I wrote that they acquired Pexels and Pixabay?), but the Pro plan will give you access to an ‘infinite’ (75+ million) supply of images, videos, audio, and graphics free-to-use!
Now, this post is about free stock photos but I must mention that the pro plan comes with 100GB cloud storage to store your visuals.
If you work with graphics or audio a lot, you know how important this is.
Sign up and try Canva’s full potential for free over a period of 30 days.
2. Tailwind Create
Tailwind is amazing. It will help you save time by automating your pinning process and to expand your reach with Tailwind Communities.
They also have a great tool aboard to create pins, called Tailwind Create.
The ‘Free’ and ‘Starter’ plans will give you access to 1 million stock photos, but if you create a lot of pins (around 100 a month) then upgrading to the ‘Advanced’ plan give you access to 5 million high-quality stock photos.
Not familiar with Tailwind already? Sign up here and get 100 schedules (and 15 Pins with Tailwind Create) for free!
The above sites are just a few of the resources where you can find free stock photos to use in your blog or social media posts. There are a lot more out there, making it absolutely unnecessary to take risks using images that you are not entitled to use.
I cannot emphasize it enough: don’t use images without the explicit consent of the artist that made them!
Finding images in a consistent styling can be hard and time-consuming. Try to find platforms or artists that have consistent styling and enough volume.
Using tools that incorporate stock photos might save you extra time. It sure helps to keep all your resources and tooling together, reducing time to switch between tools or platforms and helping you to stay ‘in-your-flow’ while creating visuals and Pins.
I hope that this post gives an answer to where to find free stock photos.
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Tell me, would you like me to find more free stock image resources? Or do you know sites that I really should mention?
Drop it in the comments below and I will update this post if the site fits!
And of course, sharing is caring!
Thanks for reading, you are awesome!