Great Sites for Royalty Free Photos

Design Resources, Photography, Royalty Free Images

My students seem to have trouble finding images that they CAN use. We absolutely cannot simply use Google Images in our artwork, what we really need is CC0 Images. In a nutshell, a CC0 images is actually free from copyright, and actually has been given to the community by waving all the rights the work.  You can copy, edit, change, distribute, and use these images (even for PAID COMMERCIAL PROJECTS) without any pesky lawyers chasing you down to slap you in cuffs or sue your pants right off.

Below, I have reviewed and linked five sites that offer you access to these types of images, and I strongly suggest that every designer bookmark them forever. Enjoy nerds.



Unsplash offers a large collection of free high-resolution photos and has become one of the best sources for stock images. The Unsplash team combs through new submissions and features the very best photos on their homepage. All photos are released for free under the Unsplash license.  Easily one of my favorite sites, and I frequent it often.  To my students, I suggest you make an account there and try to add content with your own pictures.


StockSnap has a large selection of beautiful free stock photos and high resolution images. The site also has a very handy search feature making it easy to browse through the thousands of images available. In addition, the site tracks views and downloads so you can find the most popular photos available.  StockSnap adds hundreds of images on a daily basis and all photos are released under creative commons public domain – no attribution required. This site is great for submissions too, for aspiring photographers or photography students *hint hint*.



While not a frequent stop for me when looking for images, Burst is a resource from Shopify that provides free stock photos for entrepreneurs. All photos are licensed under Creative Commons CC0 and can be used as you see fit.  Burst was launched to help entrepreneurs make better products, websites, and marketing campaigns. Most of the pictures are original photos that were taken in-house and are themed around trending business niches.  That being said, it is quite annoying that you need to sign up for their spam emails in order to get high resolution photos. Make up your own mind if it’s worth it to you.



Pexels provides high quality and completely free stock photos licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. All photos are nicely tagged, searchable and also easy to discover through our discover pages.  When you download, you are gently encouraged to say thanks to the photographer with easy links, which I absolutely love. I am a big fan of giving credit where credit is due, and I strongly suggest that everyone in the industry take the very small amount of time it takes to help promote folks like this.



Gratisography offers free high-resolution pictures you can use on your personal and commercial projects. New awesome pictures are added weekly and are free of copyright restrictions. All pictures are captured by Ryan McGuire of Bells Design. While this site does have some interesting images, I find the actual photography to be pretty specific, and not great for everyday use. However, when you do find the right image from this place, it’s usually amazingly accurate. Judge for yourself.

So, obviously there are way… WAAAAY more sites out there that offer this kind of content, and I encourage all of my students to explore and bookmark their favorites. If you find any good ones, let me know.