Everyone knows the clickability of an article or blog increases dramatically with the right image. But despite the fact that there are billions of digital pictures, it seems that finding high-quality images is still a challenge.
Plus, while the stock photo sites like Getty and Shutterstock are great, when you're generating a lot of content, the cost adds up.
Enter a number of sites that offer some truly unique and stunning images for free. Here, I've prioritized the ones that make it easy to search. Sometimes it's nice to get lost in beautiful images, but when you're under a time crunch and need the right image now, you don't have time to mess around.
Get what you need right when you need it:
This site is great for funky, fresh, fun images. If you need something creative and eye-catching, go here first -- you won't be disappointed. All the pictures on the site are taken by Ryan McGuire and free of copyright restrictions.
Unsplash stands out for the sheer beauty of its images. Originally a side project from the fine folks at Crew.co, it's now a powerhouse of stunning visuals curated into collections (like "Urban Exploration", "Clean Backgrounds", or "Morning"). It's easily searchable, and you can do whatever you want with with the pictures -- download them, modify them, use them commercially; there are no limits.
The downside of some of the free sites is the size of their collections -- sometimes they can be more limited than you need. FreeImages, on the other hand, has lots of images. Some require attribution, but that's a small price to pay for the sheer volume of what's listed here. Their pictures tend to be more stock-image-like than imaginative, but sometimes that's what's called for.
Searchable, well stocked, and free of copyright restrictions, you can also submit photos to this site yourself if you're so inclined. Hint: if you use a search term like and get no results, try adjusting it until you get the right one (i.e. "couples" doesn't bring anything up, but "couple" does). All images are free of copyright restrictions.
What's nice about this site is that when you click an image, it gives you a bunch more suggestions below it -- so if you're looking for pictures of coffee shops, you'll be able to see several useful thumbnails beneath the one you're looking at.
While it's great to have access to gorgeous, artsy shots, sometimes all you really need is really stock-y picture of a businessperson on a rollercoaster, or an adorable kitten pic. Enter Picjumbo, an easy-to-search cache of stock images that are royalty-free and require no attribution.
A power player in the field, Pixaby has over one million high-res photos and videos. Its images require no attribution and you can use them for commercial applications -- they're all under the Creative Commons Public Domain.
What's nice about this site is that in addition to having high-quality, high-res, artistic shots, its categories are listed right up front, which makes searching easier. Choose from Nature, City & Architecture, People, Animals, Food, Technology, Objects, and Abstract.
This one is niche, but worth it. With everything from classic quiches to pretty pictures of food prep, it's got high-res images of everything edible, and they're clean and bright. They add five new photos a week.