Finding stock images for your projects might have been hard in the past, but thanks to services like Shutterstock, it has become a fairly easy task. Shutterstock is a repository of over 161 million royalty-free images, videos, and music tracks. Needless to say, you can find everything that you require here. However, there is one problem. Services and websites like Shutterstock are very expensive. If you look at the monthly rates, Shutterstock allows you to download only 10 images for $29/month. Now, that’s a pretty steep price to pay, and not all of us can afford it. Thankfully, there are websites which allow us to download royalty-free images for free. Now, their collection might not be as big as that of Shutterstock, but they get the job done, without you having to pay a dime. If you were looking for such websites, you have come to the right place. Here are the 10 best free Shutterstock alternatives that you can use today:
The Best Free Shutterstock Alternatives
Whenever I think of free Shutterstock alternatives or any free stock-photo hosting website in general, Foter is the first service that comes to mind. The website hosts more than 335 million free stock photos with around 220 million available for commercial uses. This makes Foter’s repository almost double the size of Shutterstock. However, the quality of photos is not that good as they are on Shutterstock. Also, the images might be free to use, but there’s a catch. When using a photo from Foter, you will have to give credits to its photographer wherever you are using them. Although this is not a big deal, this does require extra effort. Also, if you are using photos as headers on your website, the attributes might feel out of place. Still, this is the largest repository of royalty-free stock photos and hence should not be ignored.
With over 200,000 stock photos, the collection on Unsplash might be only a fraction of what is offered on Shutterstock, but boy these images look good. Each and every image is high-resolution and beautiful. All the photos have a feel of being professionally photographed. The quality of images on Unsplash rivals those offered on Shutterstock or any paid website for that matter. Unsplash is a community website with over 41000 members who upload hundreds of new photos every day. The website is as good as the photos themselves with quick load time. The photos are organised in different categories allowing you to find the relevant images easily. You can also use the search bar at the top to search for specific photos.
What’s best is that all the images here come with a royalty-free license and can be used commercially. Unsplash only asks you to include a credit badge for the photographers, so that they get their dues. However, that too is not mandatory. If you are looking for a website with high-quality, professional photos, this is the first website you should check out. I personally use this website for all my Macbook’s wallpapers, so I have no qualms in recommending this to you guys.
With only 30,000 stock images, Pexels might feel like a tiny website when compared to Shutterstock, and in reality, it is. However, all the photos are professionally captured, high-quality images. Pexels mostly deals with outdoor images including landscapes, buildings, crowd, beaches, and so on. There’s also a fairly large number of people-centric photos on this website. The photos are shot in different lighting conditions with most of them showing off excellent “bokeh” effect. All the images come with a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) licensing which means that these images can be used for both personal and commercial purposes. You can use the images without asking any permission or setting a link to the source. In other words, neither money nor attribution is not required.
Pixabay in my knowledge is the most popular website which allows you to download royalty-free images. It is also one of the largest with over 1.1 million images as of writing this article. You can find all sort of images here. Just like Pexels, all the images here come with a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) licensing allowing you to use the images both personally and commercially without violating any copyright. Apart from images, you can also find royalty-free vector graphics, illustrations, and videos here. When it comes to quality, the website doesn’t disappoint. Most of the images are of high-quality and can be downloaded in various resolutions depending on your requirement. Hosting one of the largest collection of truly royalty-free stock images, Pixabay is one of the best free Shutterstock alternatives you can find.
Next on the list is a service called Freeimages. This one boasts of a hosting a collection of almost 400,000 royalty-free stocks images with new ones getting added each day. Just like on the other free stock-image websites, the images can be downloaded and used for both personal and commercial uses. However, unlike others, you do need to create an account before you can download the images. However, once you log in, you can download and use as many images as you want. You also do not need to give credit to the artist of the website even if you are using the images for the commercial purposes. The images hosted on this website are high-resolution and look really elegant. Apart from images, you can also find vectors and illustrations here.
6. The Stocks
The Stocks is a website which doesn’t host its own images but pulls images from various websites which host the royalty-free stock images. Actually, content from many of the websites on this list can be found here. So, it can act as a one-stop solution for your needs. However, there’s one problem with which I need to mention. The website is a little slow to load and it is hard to find pictures that you want as they are not categorised properly. If you can get over this nuance, The Stocks will suit you well. Especially considering the fact that along with photos, you can also find royalty-free videos, audios, icons, fonts, and colours.
Ever heard of Shopify? Well, if you haven’t, let me enlighten you a little. Shopify is a website development tool which allows you to create your own e-commerce websites. Shopify made Burst to help its customers to find stock images for the websites they build using its platform. However, what’s best is that Shopify didn’t keep the service locked only for its customers, but made it available for anyone who wants to use it. There are only around 1000 images present on this website. However, while other websites host the photos submitted by their community, the images on Burst have been taken by paid professional photographers. Since the website is developed by Shopify for its customers, all the images here more business oriented. So, if you own a business or act as a professional consultant, this might be the best place to find royalty-free stock photos for you.
StockSnap is yet another website which hosts royalty-free images with Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. Just like others, the photos on the website is provided by its community of photographers. You can surf its library either by categories or by what’s trending, most views, most downloaded, and most favourited. All the images are high-resolution and look good. The website does feel like gadget-centric as I found more images related to technology and gadgets especially MacBooks. If you are looking for such images, you should definitely check this one out.
Gratisography hosts high-resolution and professionally taken photos. The images here look really vibrant with exceptional colour reproduction. The images have been categorised into different categories such as animals, nature, objects, people, urban, and whimsical. These categories should give you a fairly good idea of the kind of images you are going to find here. The images on this website really pop out and look really elegant. There are some really cool images here, and you should definitely check this one out.
10. ISO Republic
With a portfolio of around 3,000 stock photos, ISO Republic is not the as big as some of the other websites on this list, but nevertheless, it’s a pretty good website. All the photos are free to use and do not require any attribution. The images have vibrant colours and great dynamic range. The website might be lacking in quantity, but it does makeup for it with the quality of images that it hosts. You can find images related to architecture, technology, nature, city/urban, and people among others. You should definitely check this one out from time to time, as you can find some really good gems here.
Shutterstock Alternatives: Best Free Stock-Images Hosting Websites
As you can see, there are a lot of options out there. Some of them have quantity while others focus on the quality. If you are looking for a large repository of images, you should definitely check out Foter. Those looking for quality should see Pexels and Gratisography. However, my favourite remains Unsplash. Check them all out and let me know which is your favourite one. Also, help the community by mentioning any other good free stock-photo website which you think should be on the list but isn’t.