Note: This information for this post (How can I get free images for my blog?) was gathered on January 15, 2022. Information in this article may change. For my full disclaimer, please visit my Disclaimer page.
Some questions I see a lot of people ask is how can I get free images for my blog? This is an excellent question, because when you first start your blog you may not have a ton of money to invest in stock photos. Is it possible to get free images at all? How can I get free images for my blog if there aren’t any free options?
Fortunately, the answer is yes – there are free stock photography websites out there. There appear to be quite a few. There are also paid sites that give you some images for free when you sign up for them. However, today I am sticking with the sites that are truly free: You don’t need a paid membership to the site in order to get any free images. Surprisingly, only one of the sites requires you to create an account to access the images.
I went through and looked at five of the stock sites that were known for their free stock images. For each site, I decided to search for the same thing: A picture of a dolphin. I live in a landlocked area, so seeing a dolphin around here is non-existent. If I ever needed to write about a dolphin, I would need to use one of these sites. I also wanted to compare what each site had to offer for this same search query.
The 5 free images sites I am looking at today are:
The results of my investigation and links to each site are below:
Canva is a lot more than a place for stock photos. It is primarily a platform that lets you create all kinds of things for your business or blog. They have templates for Pinterest Pins and Instagram reels. They also have business card and invitation layouts. This is the one site that you need to create an account before you can access the content.
Canva has both free and paid versions. When you search for images to use on your project, the ones that require payment will appear with a little crown in the corner. Those are only available to those who have the Canva Pro account. However, you can still find quite a few free options.
During my research, it appears that Canva purchased Pixabay in recent years. When I did my search on Canva, I did see some of the same images I was finding on Pixabay. So if you see the same image on both sites, no need to worry.
I searched for dolphin under the “Elements” section of my design, and several options came up. This first option that showed up wasn’t actually a stock photo, but a cute drawing. I decided to include it to show the diverse nature of Canva.
|Approximate # of free images
Unsplash was a site that to my surprise, had a lot of free images. They have nearly 2 million in free images. It is comprised of a community of artists that want to share their work. You can search for images and can view information about the photographers.
Be wary on this site (and I found it on others), the first row of search results is actually for iStock. iStock is a paid site, so if you click on them you may be wondering why you are being asked to pay for “free” images. If you scroll down a ways when you search you should reach the free images.
When I searched “dolphin,” there were 431 images. Not bad, and most of the ones I saw appeared to be good quality! It was very easy to search and download an image. After downloading, I had an option to help support the artist. I could donate through PayPal, or give them a shout-out on Twitter or Instagram. It also provided a link for me so that visitors to my site could go to Unsplash and view the artist’s work. I included the link below the image here.
|Approximate # of free images
|1 million +
Pixabay is another site where you can obtain free stock photos. You can use their images on your site without giving credit to the original artist (although it is appreciated). The search feature on Pixabay is very easy to use, and you can download images without creating an account.
When I searched “dolphin” there were about 958 search results. This image was the first one that appeared on the search result. I found that there were about 10 or so images that would be considered the “traditional” dolphin picture, and the rest were of a far more “niche” in nature.
Pixabay Company Details
|Approximate # of free images
|1.5 million +
FoodiesFeed is a site dedicated just to food stock photography. The images on the site are far fewer than other sites, but it still gets the job done. And if you are a food blogger, this may be a great site for you since they specialize in just in your niche. It would probably be good to compare what this site has to offer against some of the bigger sites.
Surprisingly, I did get a result when I searched for dolphin! A cute little food composite image to make a banana look like a dolphin! It was the only search result for dolphin (although I don’t hold that against them since it is a food site), and the download process was a little more difficult for this site.
It is also good to mention that while they do not require you to give credit to the original artist but encourage that you give them credit and link back to the webpage as well.
Foodies Feed Details
|Approximate # of images
|Not required, but artist credit and link back to website appreciated
Pexels was another super-easy to use site. When I searched “dolphin,” there were 234 dolphin photos and 64 videos. It also gave me options related to my search: whale, turtle, shark, underwater, and more. There was also a paragraph at the top that talked about dolphins, which I found surprising and wonderful!
Like Unsplash, after downloading there was an option to support the artist through PayPal or social media. I went ahead and included the link here as well.
|Approximate # of free images
|Not Required, but artist credit appreciated
Didn’t make the list – Gratisography
How can I get free images for my blog? Not through Gratisography. was one of the sites that came up on options for free sites. However, it seems to more encourage you to go to Shutterstock to pay for images rather than use the free ones. I did my classic dolphin search, and there were no results. I then searched for “coffee” (I figure coffee is pretty popular!) and got about 6 free images. The site uses terms like “whimsy” and “quirky” to describe it’s photos, so the few results I did get were off the beaten path.
If whimsy and quirky relate to your blog, this might be the site for you. I did not try to download any images, so I cannot provide any insight into process. I also did not look into the copyright or usage agreement for their images.
Why would someone give away their work for free?
When you ask how can I get free images for my blog, you may think the answer would be you can’t. After all, who would be willing to give away their images for free? Why would anyone want to give their hard-earned photos to the world to use? They could be selling it on a stock site that pays them for their services. Also, they could be selling it on their own galleries. I wanted to share my perspective as a photographer, and a little bit of what I learned on these sites.
Mainly, it boils down to three things:
You don’t actually make that much money on paid stock sites
It is true that you can upload your photography to paid sites and get a percentage of the earnings every time one of your photos is downloaded. However, it is usually a very small percentage. There area also millions and millions of photos on these sites, so having your particular photograph get noticed is not very likely. If you are looking for a big payout, this is not the way to go.
I personally tried selling photos on Shutterstock for awhile. The payout each time your photo was downloaded varied, but mostly you got paid the minimum amount. About two years ago the minimum payout for each photo was 25 cents. Then, they lowered it to 10 cents. It was at that point I stopped uploading to the site, because it just wasn’t worth it.
And with regards to selling photos on their own site, that can be time consuming and costly. For online gallery services, you need to pay an annual fee. This may not be worth it to the budding photographer. Also, they may not be interested in money at all! For some, once you start trying to monetize their passion, it takes a lot of the joy away. It is better just to offer up their images for free.
Free sites can be a great place to get exposure
Each of these sites I visited gave great exposure to the artist who created the photo. So for anybody who is trying to break into the photography world or establish themselves, this would be a great way to do so. If you already have your own business established, it can also be a way to advertise yourself. If enough people enjoy your photos, they may look you up and decide to visit your site.
It can also be a way to determine the quality of photos you are producing. Even though these are free photos, they still go through a screening process to make sure they are high quality and clear images. Once you get through the screening process, then it is a matter of seeing who downloads your photo or if you get any feedback on it. While getting validation from others doesn’t define a good photo (it can be special to you even if no one else appreciates it’s beauty), it can help if you are trying to improve your skills.
Pexels actually has “challenges” every so often that allows photographers to submit photographs of a certain genre. These challenges sometimes have prizes, and your work will be featured on the front page of the site. This is a great chance to see how your work compares to others, and possibly earn a little in the process.
This is a way to give back to the creative community
For some, this can be a way to give back to the creative community. By providing high quality photos for someone to use in their business or project, they can fill a desperately needed hole. For some of these photographers, they may have been helped out in their journey and want to pay it forward. It could have been someone gave them a second-hand camera, or maybe they used open-source software to edit their first photos. Either way, this is a great chance to help out that same community.
Even though I don’t have to give the artist credit on my site, should I?
The short answer is yes. The photographers of these images have taken the time to share them with the creative community, so crediting them is a great way to say thank you. You never know who might read your blog and love the image you used. You are giving them the opportunity to have their work known, and possibly give them more work in the future.
How Can I get Free Images for my blog – Conclusion
I hope this overview of these sites was useful for you helps answer “how can I get free images for my blog.” I personally found Unsplash to be the easiest to use of all the sites. If I need stock photos I don’t have in the future, this is where I will go to. I will also recommend it to anyone who asks me for a good place for free photos. However, any of the five sites I mentioned is a good choice for your blog. 😊