Menu Search
Jump to the content X X
Smashing Conf New York

We use ad-blockers as well, you know. We gotta keep those servers running though. Did you know that we publish useful books and run friendly conferences — crafted for pros like yourself? E.g. upcoming SmashingConf New York, dedicated to smart front-end techniques and design patterns.

Free and Commercial Stock Photography Sites


Stock photography is often used in print and web design and has been around since the 1920s, when it was utilized by the newspaper industry. It has turned out to be such a common element to use now when designing, and has become more and more available, so that designers start using it on a daily basis. In the beginning there were only a few minor resources when it came to utilizing a variety of photos, but now as the times change and technology advances, so does the amount of resources in stock photography. Here are a handful of sites to check out when considering the use of stock photography on your next project.

Free Stock Photography Sites Link

Free Range Stock791
Just sign up for a free membership, log in and download high-quality, high-resolution free stock photos and textures. All images are at least 2400 x 1600 pixels and can be used for personal and commercial use.

Free Range Stock2

Every Stock Photo753
Every Stock Photo is a search engine for free photos. These come from many sources and are license-specific. Membership is free and allows users to rate, tag, collect and comment on photos.

Every Stock Photo4

This site contains free high resolution digital stock photographs and reference images for either corporate or public use. The purpose of this site is to provide free image reference material for illustrators, comic book artist, designers, teachers and all creative pursuits. A classic resource that has become standard for free stock photography over the last years.


Mayang’s Free Textures767
Mayang’s Free Textures is a texture library with over 3,800 free to download, high-resolution textures. Featuring everything from brick walls, leaves, water, paint effects and so much more, these images come in handy for any designer.

Mayang's Free Textures8

Photogen is a source for quality, high-resolution free stock images. Photos are available for commercial or personal projects. Users must register for a free account to download images.


Free Stock Photos8111
Download free images to use for professional or commercial use. Categories include Athens, Christian, Egypt, Israel, Rome, Scenery, Sky, Weather and many more.

Free Stock Photos12


ImageBase offers free high resolution photos. In addition to beautiful images, the site also offers free PowerPoint Templates.


Kave Wall8413
Kave Wall presents free stock photos, image and textures. CD’s are available for download in various categories.

Kave Wall14

Turbo Photo8815
Visitors can browse and download 2,000 free stock images from 10 categories on TurboPhoto. Also available are high quality, professional stock images.


Free Stock Photography9017
Free Stock Photography offers a plethora of completely free Royalty-free stock photography. Browse over one hundred categories from animals to toy and games.

Free Stock Photography18

Freepixel offers free stock photography for any use. You can easily search for images as well as make full use of the tag cloud. Over 3,000 images are featured and some are usually found on paid registration sites.


Stock Vault9621
Stock Vault features over 13,000 free stock photos from over 3,600 photographers. The site’s helpful tutorials, videos and articles can also be a powerful tool for any designer.

Stock Vault22

FreeFoto showcases a large collection of free photographs. A link back and attribution are required for some images. The site is made up of over 100 thousand images with over three thousand categories.


BigFoto has a large variety of free images from different cities and continents as well as unique sceneries. Choose Royalty-free photos of San Francisco, Egypt, Germany, Israel or Prague.


Geek Philosopher
Geek Philosopher offers free stock photography. Visitors are encouraged to use the images for free but are required to post a link back to the Geek Philosopher. Browse several categories, such as food, nature, art, animals and texture.

Matton Images

Commercial Stock Photography Services Link

Corbis features unique and helpful options to search images. Users can filter by date photographed, photographer, orientation, number of people in photograph and more. Also featured are premium collections from famous photographers, such as the Andy Warhol Foundation and Ansel Adams. Most images range from $10 to $600.


Photocase is a community of photographers and their high-quality photos. Users can vote on images, leave comments, contact a specific photographer and see related images. Images are purchased with credits and are available for web or print. DownloadCredit Packages are 16 downloadcredits for $25, 40 downloadcredits for $50 or 80 downloadcredits for $90. Subscription plans available include 6 credits daily for $99 per month or 16 credits daily for $199 per month.


Pixmac contains over 6,500,000 digital pictures, features unique and helpful options to search images that are available for $1, $2 and $3 per image. The resource can be useful for low-budget projects. Also various subscription plans are available.


iStockphoto offers photos, vector illustrations, video footage, audio tracks and flash files. Visitors can sign up for their “pay-as-you-go” credit package from $18-$1,900 or save even more by purchasing a subscription for three months, six months or one year. Subscription prices vary depending on desired daily credit limit set but range from $979-$46,150. Corporate subscriptions are also available.


Fotolia features photos, vector images and videos and has over one million members. Users can purchase credits for a single download for $1 per credit. Subscriptions are also available, ranging from one month up to one year from $750-$21,600, depending on length and downloads per day.


Free Digital Photos7337
Thousands of images are available for corporate and personal use. Photos are free but the site requires a link back or there is an option to buy a high resolution version.

Free Digital Photos38

Big Stock Photo7439
At Big Stock Photo visitors can choose from over three million photos in categories such as fashion, summer, business, food, success, sports and more. Image prices range from one credit for a small image to six credits for an extra large image. Prices per credit vary from $1-$2.50 depending on amount purchased. Images are available in four different sizes for use in print and web.

Big Stock Photo40

Photos.com7741 offers over two million Royalty-free images by subscription. Their collection contains more than 390,000 professional, model-released photos in various categories. The basic subscription allows you to pay once and download up to 750 images per month from $99-$449. They also offer a “ Plus” subscription giving you access to millions of files including images, illustrations, fonts, flash and audio files from $249-$1,699.


Getty Images8243
Getty Images is a leader in providing digital media worldwide, creating and distributing a range of assets – from Royalty-free stock photography and editorial images to footage, music and multimedia. One unique part of Getty Images is it features creative images to up-to-the-minute editorial coverage – including news, sports, and celebrity photos. Prices range from $49 to several thousand dollars

Getty Images44

Can Stock Photo8345
Can Stock Photo is a photography agency that offers professional stock photography. The site has over 1,492,000 images to choose from and three purchasing options. Choose from several subscription durations, weekly, monthly or yearly, and volumes, up to 10 images per day or 25 images per day, from $35-$1,199. Credits are available at 50 cents per credit. Images vary from 2 credits for a small image to 10 credits for a large vector. Photos can also be purchased without credits or subscriptions, but are not offered at a discount.

Can Stock Photo46

123RF sells Royalty-free images and vector images. If you do not find the perfect photo amongst their four million images, they offer 24-hour live support. 123RF offers the flexibility to choose between two modes of purchase; monthly subscriptions or credit purchase. The Basic Subscription Plan allows up to 5 images downloaded per day or the Premium Subscription Plan allows for 26 downloads per day. Both subscriptions are available for 30, 90 or 265 days. Prices range from $89-$1,799. Credits are $1 each and available in various quantities.


Vectorious has a wide variety of stock vectors. The site features over 8,000 vector illustrations and three types of subscriptions: $15 for one month, $40 for 3 months or $70 for six months. The daily limit is twenty images per day.


Stock photography, illustrations, typefaces and unique merchandise are all available on Veer. Images can be found in up to six sizes from $1 to $20, depending on the size of the images. Veer features images in hundreds of categories and also gives users the ability to easily create a lightbox.


Jupiterimages Unlimited8953
At Jupiterimages Unlimited you will find millions of images from eight premium collections and four subscription services, alongside millions of value photos and illustrations. Jupiterimages Unlimited has a flexible subscription plan as well as Rights-Managed and Royalty-free images. Monthly subscriptions start at $599 to $1,499. Annual subscriptions range from $599-$3,399 depending amount of access to photos. Most plans are limited to 750 downloads per month.

Jupiterimages Unlimited54

PuchStock has over two million Royalty-Free photos and illustrations from JupiterImages, Getty Images, Corbis and over 50 other brands. PunchStock also offers virtual CD’s, which you can download instantly, and traditional CD’s, which can be quickly shipped. As a bonus, the site usually features monthly specials or promotions.


VivoZoom showcases fabulous commercial images you can trust. It is the “only microstock site that guarantees its images are legally safe to use.” Pay-As-You-Go Plan allows members to choose the number of downloads from 5 to 50 downloads for $39 to $149. Subscriptions plans are also offered; monthly-$279, quarterly-$699 or annually-$2,499, limit 15 downloads per day.


FotoSearch is a provider of Royalty-free and Right-managed stock photography, illustrations, maps, videos and audio. Their subscription package allows up to 25 images downloaded per day for $249 a month. CD’s and DVD’s are also available and grouped by category.


Dreamstime features over six million images from over 70 thousand photographers. Users can purchase credit packages; 5 credits-$7, 12 credits-$15, 25 credits-$25, 52 credits-$50, 108 credits-$100. Subscriptions are also available for 1 month, 3, months, 6 months or 12 months. Prices range from $98-$3,739. The site also features free stock photos, illustrations, vector and raw images as well as a blog for people to interact, make friends and share tips and techniques.


PhotoSpin presents two subscription levels to fit your design needs. Both offer high resolution photos, up to 3600 pixels for $299 per year or 5100 pixels for $499 per year. Photos, illustrations, fonts, audio and video are all available for download.


Inmagine is one of the leading supplier and distributor of Royalty-free digital stock photography. With more than 3.5 million Royalty-free stock images, they hold one of the most competitive lists of publishers in the market today. Sales support is available 24 hours a day, Monday though Friday, to help with any questions or a research consultation. Prices range from $29-$870 on average.


Unprofound is a unusual or unorthodox stock photography site. This is because images are categorized by color. Images are completely free to use.


Matton Images10369
Matton Images is a complete Royalty-free resource. Images and illustrations are listed by category and theme. Subscriptions are available for 3 months, 6 months and 12 months from $360-$1,189.

Matton Images70

Comparison Table Link

Site File Types # of Images Purchasing
iStockphoto7133 JPG, Vector, Video, Audio, Flash 5,197,000 3 plans available: Pay-As-You-Go: Purchase credits as needed from $18-$1,900. Subscription: Available for 3 months, 6 months and 1 year from $979-$46,150. Can set your own daily credit limit. Corporate Account: Can purchase Corporate Pay-As-You-Go account or Corporate Subscription account.
Fotolia7235 JPG, Vector, Video 6,258,000 Single Download: $1=1 credit. Minimum purchase is 10 credits. Subscriptions: Can choose standard subscription to download large JPG images only or premium subscription to download images, vectors and videos.
Free Digital Photos7337 JPG N/A Every image is free with an option to purchase high resolution photos for print or graphic design. Large images for Web are $5, high resolution for print is $10.
Big Stock Photo7439 JPG 3,508,000 Images are purchased with credits. Prices range from 1 credit for small images to 6 credits for an extra large image. Prices per credit vary from $1-$2.50 depending on amount purchased.
Every Stock Photo753 JPG 4,459,000 Images are free.
Mayang’s Free Textures767 JPG 3,800 Images are free.
Photos.com7741 JPG, Vector, Audio, Flash, Typography 2,000,000 Original Subscription: Gives access to over 390,000 photos. 1 month-$99.95, 3 months-$199.95 or 1 year-$449.95. Plus Subscription: Gives access to millions of images, flash files, fonts and audio files. 1 month-$249.95, 3 months-$599.95 or 1 year-$1,199.95. Can also purchase single images without a subscription.
Photogen789 JPG 1,300 Images are free.
Free Range Stock791 JPG 10,000 Images are free.
Stockxpert80 JPG, Vector, Video 3,500,000 Pay Per Download: Credits are approx. $1 and available in in many quantities. Subscription: Choose between plans for 1 month-$219.95, 3 months-$499.95 and 1 year-1,299.95, and download up to 25 images per day. Extended licenses are also available as well as video subscriptions.
Free Stock Photos8111 JPG N/A Images are free.
Getty Images8243 JPG, Video, Music 21,000,000 Prices range from $49 to several thousand dollars.
ImageBase JPG, PPT Templates 1,800 Images are free.
Can Stock Photo8345 JPG, Video 1,492,000 Choose from several subscription durations, weekly, monthly or yearly, and volumes, up to 10 images per day or 25 images per day, from $35-$1,199. Credits are available at 50 cents per credit. Images vary from 2 credits for a small image to 10 credits for a large vector. Photos can also be purchased without credits or subscriptions, but are not offered at a discount.
Kave Wall8413 JPG 1,700 Images are free. Can also purchase a CD of high resolution images by category for $19.95.
123RF8547 JPG, Vector 4,000,000 Credits: 1 credit is $1 and can buy in various quantities. Subscriptions: The Basic Subscription Plan allows up to 5 images downloaded per day or the Premium Subscription Plan allows for 26 downloads per day. Both subscriptions available for 30, 90 or 265 days. Prices range from $89-$1,799.
Vectorious8649 JPG 8,000 Available subscriptions include $15 for one month, $40 for 3 months or $70 for six months. The daily limit is twenty images per day.
Veer8751 JPG, Vector, Typography 1,309,600 Prices are as follows: XS-$1, S-$3, M-$5, L-$10, XL-$15, XXL-$20. Also featured on the site are images from other sites so prices may vary depending on the provider.
Turbo Photo8815 JPG 2,000 Images are free.
Jupiterimages Unlimited8953 JPG, Vector N/A Monthly subscriptions start at $599 to $1,499. Annual subscriptions range from $599-$3,399 depending amount of access to photos. Most plans are limited to 750 downloads per month.
Free Stock Photography9017 JPG N/A Images are free.
VivoZoom9157 JPG N/A Pay-As-You-Go Plan: 5 downloads for $39 or 25 downloads for $149 for all resolutions or 12 downloads for $49 and 50 downloads for $149 for web resolutions only. Subscriptions plans are also offered; monthly-$279, quarterly-$699 or annually-$2,499, limit 15 downloads per day.
FotoSearch9259 JPG, Vector, Video 5,300,000 N/A
Corbis9327 JPG, Vector N/A Most images range from $10-$600.
Freepixels9419 JPG 3,700 Images are free.
Dreamstime9561 JPG, Vector 6,162,000 Credit packages are available; 5 credits-$6.99, 12 credits-$14.99, 25 credits-$24.99, 52 credits-$49.99, 108 credits-$99.99. Subscriptions are also available for 1 month, 3, months, 6 months or 12 months. Prices range from $98.89-$3,739.99.
Stock Vault9621 JPG 13,800 Images are free.
PhotoSpin9763 JPG, Vector, Video, Audio, Typography 150,000 The Plus 1-Year subscription allows for unlimited downloads for all 12 inch files for $299 and the Super Plus 1-Year subscription allows for unlimited downloads for all 17 inch files for $499.
Unprofound9867 JPG 1,300 Images are free.
Inmagine9965 JPG 3,500,000 Prices range from $29-$870 on average.
FreeFoto10023 JPG 127,000 Images are free. A link back to the site is required.
BigFoto10125 JPG N/A Images are free.
Photocase10229 JPG N/A Download Credit Packages: 16 downloadcredits-$25, 40 downloadcredits-$50 or 80 downloadcredits-$90. Subscription plans available include 6 credits daily for $99 per month or 16 credits daily for $199 per month.
Geek Philosopher JPG N/A Images are free.
Matton Images10369 JPG, Video, Audio, Music, Maps, Typography, Clipart 1,500,000 Subscriptions are available for 3 months, 6 months and 12 months from $360-$1,189.
Pixmac10431 JPG 6,595,000 Three picture sources (Pixmac, Celebrity, Fotolia) for one payment. 2 plans available: Pay-As-You-Go: Purchase credits from $9.95-$449.95. Pictures from $1. Cheap subscription: Available monthly from $99.95-$299,95. Pictures from $0.10. Searching differently by similar
pictures. Easy, simple and fast interface.

Photo Licensing Link

Photography is often quickly bought and sold in several different ways with various licensing agreements. It is important to understand the copyright on the image you are using or purchasing as to not violate the law. More often than not, simply finding an image off the internet, whether through a search engine or a website, and using it is in violation of its intended use and can result in a lawsuit and severe penalties. Some of the most common licenses used are Rights Managed or Royalty-free.

The value of a Rights Managed image, or sometimes called “licensed images” or “RM”, is determined by the use of the image. This includes the intended use of the image, duration it will be displayed, country it will be used in, size and exclusivity. Royalty-free stock photography, commonly referred to “RF”, offers a photo buyer the ability to use an image in an unlimited number of ways for a single license fee.

Footnotes Link

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13
  14. 14
  15. 15
  16. 16
  17. 17
  18. 18
  19. 19
  20. 20
  21. 21
  22. 22
  23. 23
  24. 24
  25. 25
  26. 26
  27. 27
  28. 28
  29. 29
  30. 30
  31. 31
  32. 32
  33. 33
  34. 34
  35. 35
  36. 36
  37. 37
  38. 38
  39. 39
  40. 40
  41. 41
  42. 42
  43. 43
  44. 44
  45. 45
  46. 46
  47. 47
  48. 48
  49. 49
  50. 50
  51. 51
  52. 52
  53. 53
  54. 54
  55. 55
  56. 56
  57. 57
  58. 58
  59. 59
  60. 60
  61. 61
  62. 62
  63. 63
  64. 64
  65. 65
  66. 66
  67. 67
  68. 68
  69. 69
  70. 70
  71. 71
  72. 72
  73. 73
  74. 74
  75. 75
  76. 76
  77. 77
  78. 78
  79. 79
  80. 80
  81. 81
  82. 82
  83. 83
  84. 84
  85. 85
  86. 86
  87. 87
  88. 88
  89. 89
  90. 90
  91. 91
  92. 92
  93. 93
  94. 94
  95. 95
  96. 96
  97. 97
  98. 98
  99. 99
  100. 100
  101. 101
  102. 102
  103. 103
  104. 104
SmashingConf New York

Hold on, Tiger! Thank you for reading the article. Did you know that we also publish printed books and run friendly conferences – crafted for pros like you? Like SmashingConf New York, on June 14–15, with smart design patterns and front-end techniques.

↑ Back to top Tweet itShare on Facebook

Jourdan Wilkerson is the Marketing Coordinator at lifeBLUE Media, a top-level Web agency that specializes in custom web design and development as well as search engine marketing.

  1. 1

    Great Overview. Thanks for putting it together.

  2. 2

    Nice post…great article….

  3. 3

    light light post.
    but handy resources post

  4. 4

    sure missed some of those…great list :)

  5. 5

    How handy is this!!

    I am just about to put the info/prelaunch site up for a stock photo/image site that we are working on launching later this year! (Hopefully we will get a feature in your next list!)

    The comparison at the bottom is brilliant, and I will be referring back to that as we finalise our pricing etc.

    Would it be okay to come back and post a link when the prelaunch site goes live?

  6. 6

    The website actually sells vector images not jpg.

  7. 7

    Thanks for putting together that comparison table, it’s incredibly helpful in choosing the best site. Great article!

  8. 8

    There is another site called photographers direct of which I use. You deal with the photographer and not the agency, so the photographers know where their images are and the buyer receives a more personal approach, though naturally the experience will depend on the parties involved.

    By the way, your website is a very useful source of information and I visit it on a daily basis. Keep up the great work smashing.

  9. 9

    Great list, bookmarked it, site you can use for lot of projects.

  10. 10

    Floris Fiedeldij Dop

    August 16, 2009 5:44 am

    Why is there so much white space below this input box? (off topic)

    As always, great collection of information that I will refer to numerous times. This is like the best bookmark web site ever, it just happens to have excellent explanations and details for what it bookmarks.

    Keep up the good work.

  11. 11

    I’ve found another site with free photos:, I understood the pictures there are the collection of some photographers that had no use for them – and they’re like totally free ;)

    Thanks for the list SM, helpful as usual :)

  12. 12


    August 16, 2009 5:50 am

    This is a fantastic collection.

    What a great resource.

    I have found some great images already.

    Thank you for putting this collection together.

  13. 13

    great list ! fact,seeing some for the first time..

  14. 14

    Wow, can’t believe I was just looking for something like this yesterday. Thanks, Smashing Magazine!

  15. 15

    One of your best posts ever. The comparison table puts it over the top!

  16. 16

    Wow awesome these are great! Thank you!

  17. 17

    Great listing. Thanks!

  18. 18

    Thanks for sharing this great collection with us!

  19. 19

    Fantastic overview – thanks for putting it together! :D

  20. 20

    great research done to even have the comparisons table done up.. thumbs up!

    on a negative note, as a photographer, it saddens me to see more free stock photography sites popping up…

  21. 21

    Very creepy. This was the very thing I came her for to update my web site with. There’s very little images on the site.

  22. 22

    Scott Horvath

    August 16, 2009 8:37 am

    Great resources here. However, don’t forget that government imagery is also always public domain, unless otherwise noted. Typically providing a “credit” line is all you need…if that. One that I’m familiar with is the USGS Multimedia Gallery ( The photography may not always fit your needs, depending on what you’re looking, but it high resolution and they are free.

  23. 23

    Hi nice list.

    Must have taken a while to put together. Thanks!

    Would also be nice to expand the article to view it from a stock photo contributer’s point of view, i.e. how can I add my own photo’s to the site and is there any compensation.

    Small note, I would call your ‘comparison table’ a list. A comarison table should make it easy to compare features between sites. I suggest to put the sites as column headers and the features in each row. Then I would actually be able to compare at a glance…

  24. 24

    more than 6 years old is that is german only but high quality picture. Need to signup for downloading images.

  25. 25

    Alexander Bickov

    August 16, 2009 11:12 am

    Thanks for the list

  26. 26

    It is also worth noting what is the cost of “extended license” – right to use downloaded imagery in commercial products (tshirt, game etc…). It is common practice that images sold for $1-$3 cost extra $100 for extended license. Maybe not a big deal for some, but too much for poor indie developer ;)

  27. 27

    Getty Images is also a leader in contacting photographers from free sites, letting them sign and then remove all there photos from the free site, then charging people who are using these formerly free photos (usually they can’t prove the photo was free when they downloaded it).
    Prices Getty charges range from thousand to several thousand dollars, even if the used photo is of almost no benefit to the user (private sites, very small images, …), and the usual licence is 20-30 times cheaper.

  28. 28

    Yay! Mayang’s back from the dead! That site disappeared about a year ago and I thought that was the end of it.

  29. 29

    Great list! Thanks so much!

  30. 30

    I have to comment on this one after weeks of coveting. This is a fantastic collection.

  31. 31

    nice article. this is useful for designers.

  32. 32

    Dr. Y.U. Thropplenoggin

    August 16, 2009 11:38 pm


    I am most befuddled by the egregious absence of Creative Commons from this list, where a veritable trove of daguerrotypes are available to be utilised and/or fabricated into new forms under divers CC licenses.

    Yours, etc.

    Dr. Thropplenoggin

  33. 33

    Wow! Great list. I will bookmark this post.

    There are other websites that I go for free stock photo too. offers free stock photos for both personal and commercial projects.

    I recommend this one too.

  34. 34

    Ahhhh, the death of commercial photography /o

  35. 35

    thank you very much …….
    finding free images is a big job ………….

  36. 36

    Wow… thats useful, in particular because I have just registered, watch this space for more Free stock images from my own collection. Granted they may not be great, but for free who can argue eh.

    Great timing SM.


  37. 37

    Thank you very very much SM!
    I really need that…

  38. 38

    Indeed, all that glitters is not gold. I mean that even the free stock photography sites have a lot of restrictions when you look at their ‘license page’. It is very difficult to get images you really can use for commercial purposes in this kind of sites. That’s why I prefer public domain pictures: they are free and sure for every use, and forever.

  39. 39

    Really amazing article! Thanks a lot!

    P.S.: Why some photobank is not in “Comparison Table”? Pixmac for example…

  40. 40

    As a fellow user of diverse stock image sites I’m surprised to see that the pay as you go credits are not mentioned by number for Istock. Now it looks like Istock is extremely pricey. But you can buy an image for just one dollar. The price of a full scale image is getting higher by the day (up to 30 dollar), but Istock still delivers the best professional quality for an acceptable price.


↑ Back to top