Our Top 5 Sources for Free Stock Images

Our Top 5 Sources for Free Stock Images

August 15, 2017

There are thousands of sources online for imagery; at BentoSMB we often use shutterstock and iStock and in a perfect world, you would set aside a budget for stock photography, or even better, hire a photographer for an afternoon to take your own photographs. But we understand that that perfect world of the endless marketing budget doesn’t exist. And we have a solution for this! There are such things are Free Stock Images !

In fact, you’ve probably searched that exact phrase before, right? But what are the chances you gave up after digging through the not-so-great imagery, and those sites that say “free” but somehow aren’t free at all!?

Well luckily (for you, not so much me), I've spent a large portion of my design career digging through those sites, and I have listed 5 free (actually free!) high-quality stock image sites that I frequently use.

Understanding the Legal Stuff Around Free Stock Images...

From my experience the free stock images on the sites featured here fall under either public domain or creative commons zero. 

Public domain: Free to use, not under copyright protection. Can use for any personal or commercial purpose.

Creative Commons: Free to use, but might come with restrictions such as attribution required, or non-commercial use.

Creative Commons Zero: For all intent and purposes, it’s *basically* public domain, you can use it for any personal or commercial purpose but the owner does retain “moral rights” of the image.

Always double check individual images if you are unsure about whether you should be using them!

Our Top 5 Sources for Free Stock Images

Pixabay image collage.


Pixabay is one of the largest collections of free stock images on this list with over 1 million images. There’s a varied selection of imagery, style, and topics, but with this comes a larger portion of amateur photography. Still, Pixabay would be my first stop, as it’s the most likely to have what I’m looking for.

Pexels image collage


Pexels is *probably* my favourite free stock image site, as it includes the most aesthetically attractive stock photography and great staging and composition, beautiful colour balance, etc. The photography is a little more niche than say Pixabay in that there are a lot of flat-lay, nature and artsy images. One downside is a large amount of variation in resolution and sizes, but it’s always worth a look!

 Unsplash image collage


A great middle ground of variety and quality, 200,000+ free stock images of everything from food, to nature, to business.

 Burst image collage

4. Burst

Another great free stock image site, powered by Shopify. A nice mix of artsy and functional images.

 Kaboom picture collage

5. Kaboom Pics

Kaboom pics is the smaller collection on this list with only 5000ish images, and it has more artsy niche images, but they are gorgeous and definitely worth a look. A lot of flat lay and interior design images, but also some stunning nature shots.  

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