Top Five Free Stock Photo Websites

 
 
Best Free Stock Photo Sites for Bloggers, Small Businesses and Non-Profits
 

Whether you're a new (or seasoned!) blogger or a entrepreneur with a limited marketing budget, having professional photography done for each campaign, webpage or blog isn't reasonable. That's why I've rounded up my favorite stock photo sites that offer great, high-quality images for free. Yep, that's right: great photos for zero dollars, no strings attached.

PEXELS

Pexels is an incredible resource for free stock photos for bloggers across the board. They have everything from desk flat lays with coffee, notebooks and Apple gear and office shots to open plains and livestock. You won't find corny, posed images on Pexels either. Feminine or masculine themes, holiday photos, food images and everything in between sums up their giant library. They even have a massive fitness section, which in my experience, is hard to come by in the free stock photo world! 

Images are free for personal or commercial use and they even have a handy option to download different sizes of their photo, a feature that's especially great if you don't have access to Photoshop or time to spend resizing image after image.

No account is required to download photos, but if you do sign up, you'll receive 40 exclusive images you won't find on the website.

Here's a rundown of their license from their website:

It's hard to understand complex licenses that is why all photos on Pexels are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. This means the pictures are completely free to be used for any legal purpose.

•  The pictures are free for personal and even for commercial use.
•  You can modify, copy and distribute the photos.
•  All without asking for permission or setting a link to the source. So, attribution is not required.
•  The only restriction is that identifiable people may not appear in a bad light or in a way that they may find offensive, unless they give their consent.

 

UNSPLASH

Unsplash has a similar aesthetic to Pexels but with a bit more limited library; however, it is a perfect resource for images with consistent style. Nearly any image you download from Unsplash will have the same look and feel in terms of how the image was shot and edited. You'll also find more images of people on Unsplash.

Unsplash's content has a distinct feel, yet offers vivid imagery and a wide range of subjects: lifestyle, fashion, food, offices, tech and outdoors are just a few of the most popular categories.

Like Pexels, an account isn't required to download photos, but by signing up, you'll receive 10 high-quality photos direct to your inbox each week.

Here's a look at Unsplash's licensing policy:

All photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero which means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.

 

 

CREATIVE MARKET

 

While Creative Market isn't a free photo website, per se, they offer weekly freebies, which often include a pack of 20+ images with a different theme each week. And a major bonus: The weekly free goods from Creative Market include fonts, graphics, pre-made logos, Photoshop files and more!

Licensing policies depend on the week and artist, but most of the time they're 100% free for commercial or personal use. And don't forget to check out Creative Market's full library of images for more flexibility starting at as little at $2.

A fun little bonus from this site is the fact that you can sync the files directly to your Dropbox, which makes it easy to either backup your files, share them with clients or even save space on your laptop or computer!

 

BARN IMAGES

Yes, it's called Barn Images. No, they don't have only images of barns. They have a good selection of free images, which you can search directly for a subject or browse the 16+ categories. Barn Images also has a blog with great resources, which also comes up in search terms.

One thing to keep in mind, you'll find more ads on this site than the others, but they're not too intrusive and often closely related to blogging and photography.

Barn Images also has Premium Photo Packs, which gives you access to a library of a dozen or more themed downloads with up to 110+ photos in each pack for a great price. If you're looking for a ton of styled photography images and have a small budget for photography, the photo packs might be for you!

Check out their licensing policy:

You are allowed to use all of the images published in Barn Images collections (both Free Images and Premium Packs) for commercial and non-commercial purposes. You can remix, tweak, and build upon your work, without asking for permission or attributing the photos. However, we would appreciate if you could place a link to our website, or spread the word in social media.

 

835 CREATIVE

Wait, whaaaat? Yes, that's right. 835 Creative is in the process of creating a free stock photo library just for you! Each month, we're creating a photo pack of stock images perfect to promote your blog, Etsy shop or use on social media. We're talking about 10-20 images each month with a specific theme and photo style. You'll find flat-lay images, moody images, holiday images and more with room to pop into InDesign, Photoshop or Canva and add text, your logo and more... at no cost!

If you're signed up for the Resource Library, you'll get instant access each month, plus access to previous months' photo packs. Want December's free holiday-themed photo pack? Click here! And don't forget to visit the Resource Library to sign up for access to free templates, checklists and photos for your blog and website.


Looking for more recommendations for products and resources for your blog or website? Check out my top picks for online tools here!

 

The Five-Minute Photo Fix: fix your iphone photos instantly

Have you ever wondered how to get that crisp, clear, perfect image on Instagram? How some food photos look good enough to eat, while others look a little... ick?

In this week's quick tip of the week, I'll show you how to turn your food photo from "are you sure that's edible?" to "holy cow, get in my belly now!" in less than five minutes. That's no joke - it's THAT easy. Really, the most difficult thing about this tutorial is not eating the cookies before I finished taking photos. 

 
The Five-Minute Photo Fix. Turn your food photo from "are you sure that's edible?" to "holy cow, get in my belly now!" in less than five minutes.  Really, the most difficult thing about this tutorial is not eating the cookies while shooting!
 

what you'll need

Here's what you'll need to produce a studio-quality image in five minutes flat:

  • A spot near a window
  • Daylight (clouds or sunshine work!)
  • A sheet of white paper
  • Your object(s)

This little trick is all about lighting. By using daylight near a window and not in direct sunlight, you'll create the nice, soft shadows. Is it cloudy out? Even better! The after photo in this post was actually taken on a very overcast day. With sunlight, your shadows will be a bit harsher, but cloudy will give you just enough light, unless of course, it's thunderstorming.

the set up

The set up is so incredibly easy. Grab a spot near a window. Grab a sheet of white paper - even the simple, day-to-day computer paper works. As long as your object is smaller that the paper, you're golden. Here's a look at my crazy simple set up. It's almost funny how simple it is:

 
The Five-Minute Photo Fix. Turn your food photo from "are you sure that's edible?" to "holy cow, get in my belly now!" in less than five minutes.  Really, the most difficult thing about this tutorial is not eating the cookies while shooting!
 

I lightly fold the sheet of paper to more easily prop the piece of paper up against an object behind the subject (in this case, cookies). When you shoot, you'll be eye-level with your subject, which will give the image a nice, seamless background, much like a mini studio photo! There are more advanced ways to set up a lightbox for images like this, but this is the fast and easy, super budget-friendly method.

 
The Five-Minute Photo Fix. Turn your food photo from "are you sure that's edible?" to "holy cow, get in my belly now!" in less than five minutes.  Really, the most difficult thing about this tutorial is not eating the cookies while shooting!
 

See the above photo? The colors are off, the shadows are harsh, the background is dark. All-in-all, not a great photo. Do you know why? It was taken with the curtains drawn and flash on. The iPhone's flash is not your friend in most situations. Turn it off! Always! Okay, almost always. There's a time and place for everything, but when natural light is available, there's no need for it.

You can easily toggle your iPhone camera's flash: When your camera app is open, in the top right corner is a little lighting bolt. Tap it and three options appear: Auto, On and Off. Tap off and you're good to go.

 
The Five-Minute Photo Fix. Turn your food photo from "are you sure that's edible?" to "holy cow, get in my belly now!" in less than five minutes.  Really, the most difficult thing about this tutorial is not eating the cookies while shooting!
 

Here's the finished product with natural light. Open up that curtain, let the light in. Jump down to eye level and once your camera app is open, tap your subject on the screen to get that beautiful focus. With my final photo, I popped it into one of my favorite mobile apps, VSCO, brightened it up, sharpened just a bit and lightened the shadows. Easy as pie, right? Er, cookies.

Post in the comments your before and after photos using the 5-minute photo fix or tag me on Instagram @brendagdalton. I'd love to see how you use this quick method to improve your photos.


Improve your iPhone photography plus free workbook!

Not sure why every single photo you take with your iPhone is blurry? Are you ready to kick dark, grainy images to the curb?

Here you'll find my favorite tricks to using your iPhone to produce professional-quality images for your blog and social media. Plus, snag the free four-page iPhone Photography Workbook for Bloggers and Creatives at the bottom of this post for even more tips!

 
The best tips to improve your iPhone photography for your website, blog or social media!
 

great lighting

A great source of natural light is the single best way to create sharp images with soft shadows. How do you find natural light? Indoors, find a room that’s well lit, but without direct sunlight (bright, but not harsh). Whether you’re shooting from above, from the side or eye-level, be sure not to stand between your light source (the window) and your object.

focus!

This is one of the biggest questions I'm asked: Why are all of my iPhone photos blurry? It's a bit of a hidden feature with your phone: tap to focus. That's it! Tap the subject on your screen and wah-la! You're in focus. If your images are still blurry, try giving your iPhone's lens a little wipe down with a soft cloth. Even with a case on, the lens can get a bit dirty, causing your images to be blurry and grainy.

burst mode

At a sporting event or trying to capture your cat sprinting around the house full-speed? Try the iPhone's burst mode, which takes photos in quick succession. Instead of tapping the shutter button to take a photo, press and hold. From there, numbers will appear (and continue counting!) until you let go of the button. The same works if you use the volume button to take photos, too. This is a great feature to capture high-speed motion at its peak.

try a new angle

Some angles work, some angles don't. Until you've nailed your brand style when it comes to your photos, experiment! Jump on a stool and shoot from far above. Lay down in the grass to find a new perspective. Get up close on your subject and try the same shot with the whole room. As you work on your photography, try each image in a variety of angles (and shoot lots!), which will help you figure out your own style.

use filters sparingly

Filters are popular! In fact, they're so popular that Instagram's filter names are showing up on top baby names lists in 2015. Unfortunately, slapping a filter on your photos won't make your image much better. Some of the top pros on Instagram won't even touch filters (shocking, isn't it?), instead opting for mild adjustments in VSCO and Instagram such as brightness, contrast and sharpen. With the right lighting, you'll never have to rely on Valencia again!

want more tips and tricks?

 
 

Don't forget to pick up your free four-page iPhone Photography Workbook for Bloggers and Creatives with even more detailed tips and tricks! Pop your info below and you'll receive an instant link to download. I can't wait to see what you come up with, so tag me in your new and improved photos on Instagram with @brendagdalton!

Download the Improve Your iPhone Photography Workbook through the Resource Library!