Free Stock Photography, or more like all stock photography in general, has always had a pretty cheesy reputation within the photography industry and beyond. While there definitely are stock photography sites that live up to this notion perfectly, we have also recently seen an evolution in the quality of the stock images, and its availability. In todays climate of mass visual content consumption, I think a case can be made that there is a time and a place for the right kind of stock photography in your brand's creative content strategy.
Social media is a beast that needs feeding, and constantly creating custom branding content is not feasible for most companies. Whether you are the social media manager of a new brand or a seasoned veteran, utilizing stock imagery in your feed has become a necessary part of extending the usage of branded content, as well as a useful tool in helping display your brand's aesthetic.
Here are a list of the 10 best free stock photography sites for social media usage.
If you having trouble getting over your preconceived notions about what stock photography is then look no further than Unsplash.
Their team has curated a massive index of completely free to use images for commercial or personal usage. Aside from the beyond generous licensing their catalog of images is unrivaled in quality and variety. Whether you are looking for aesthetic images for your website or positive quotes for your social media channels, Unsplash has you covered!
If you're looking for quirky, out of the box, sometimes strange, stock photography with lots of style, then you can't miss Gratisography.
Gratisography isn't as robust as many other stock photography sites, however, the quality and creativity in every image is unmatched. In many ways, it is a satire of traditional stock photography. You have to check them out if you're looking for the anti-stock-photography with cheeky humor and a touch of punk rock.
This free stock photography site is vast as they come. There is an image for pretty much any topic you can think of. They aren't always the most stylized or creative, but depending on your companies social media's creative strategy something from PicJumbo will get the job done.
Death To Stock
Death To Stock is the antithesis of everything you know about stock photography. Their collection is expertly curated with unique, high-quality, fashion forward, and minimalist, imagery. If you have a younger trendy brand aesthetic this site should not be missed. However, there is a little catch, this is not exactly 'Free' but hear me out! When you sign up for their mailing list they have a free photo pack available for download. They also send free curated photo packs to your email a few time a year. So if you aren't sure you want commit to there paid subscription you do get a whole lot of value from just signing up for occasional emails. To date I've never been spammed with useless emails from them, I find the trade off well worth it!
After Unsplash, Pexels might be my favorite go-to stock photography site. They have a large community of contributing photographers which makes their stock library one of the best in terms of aesthetics and variety. Their site is updated with new stock images and royalty free videos weekly which keeps their library fresh with images relating to what's happening in the world today, both in content and in style.
Pikwizard holds a stunning library of over 1 million stock images and videos. What makes Pikwizard stand out is that users can take each image and edit it on the graphic design software, Design Wizard. And the images of people are also great! There's no attribution required, meaning you can use the images and videos as you please. There may be some Adobe sponsored images on the site, but these are clearly labeled and the vast majority of images are free!
Burst by Shopify
Burst by Shopify is a great answer for the solopreneur who is juggling a lot by themselves. From everything from cinemagraph gifs, to flat-lays, to baby photos, Burst has thousands to choose from with more being added weekly. Another unique feature from Burst is the "Trending business ideas" page that has starter kits of content bundled together and ready for download with case studies bundled along to explain how to use the content. The individual plan is free to use and then once you upgrade for paid features, it puts Burst into the range of other premium paid stock websites like Getty or iStock.
Foodiesfeed is an excellent source for all things eclectic food photography for anyone who has a brand strategy that requires food styling. With over 4 million photos, thousands of weekly contributors, and a collaborative online magazine to draw inspiration from, there is no doubt that you'll be sure to find everything you need. From from fresh sunny side eggs in the morning, to a crisp and vibrant limeade, there's plenty of Creative Commons Licensed photography ready to make a splash with your audience. We know food styling can bite into your budget, and this is a great alternative to keep your content fresh and creative.
Kaboompics is great for anyone needing consistent, creative, and unique lifestyle imagery. Boasting over 21 million downloads worldwide, which impressed us even more once we realized this was a "one (wo)man band" running the show, Kaboompics is easy to navigate with their "by color" or "by photoshoot" organizing. Because this is a single photographer producing imagery, Kaboompics is extremely visually consistent, and the sheer volume of imagery keeps this collection from becoming redundant. A great tool in your arsenal if you're building a lifestyle brand that needs less product and more vibes.
The Commons - Flickr
Are you looking to pay homage to a nostalgic tale from yesteryear? To tell an origin story about your brand on social media? Look no further than The Commons by Flickr! Flickr is an original giant in the photo-sharing sphere, and they have started a non-profit to help keep historic and open domain images accessible for all by partnering with historical institutions like the Library of Congress, The British Library, the Smithsonian and so much more. I like that they have retained their Flickr organizing features to search by color and photographic features to help navigate quickly. Whether you're looking for an old NASA launch photo, Antique Independence Day posters, or an Austin Low Loader taxi in London from 1946, The Commons has your historical homage covered.