close
Creative Process

Top 22 Unique Stock Photo Websites for Creators

A complete list of the best stock photo websites for designers and creative teams. Discover the best free and premium resources for unique photos and worry-free licensing.

11 min read

October 07, 2022

Browse curated photo finds

In this competitive digital arena, content creators, brands, and marketers need great visuals if they want their projects to stand out. Fortunately, there are millions of high-quality stock photos, illustrations, vector graphics, and even stock video footage to help bring your most eccentric ideas to life.

In this guide, discover a list of the best websites for premium stock photos and free stock photos alike. Plus, get a breakdown of the licensing options for each platform, so you know which photos you can use worry-free.

Best Premium Stock Photo Websites 

As you’ve probably noticed, there are amazing free stock images all over the web. The downside is, they really are ALL over the web, including your competitor’s websites. 

The biggest advantage of choosing a premium stock photo site is the guarantee of working with a unique visual resource.

The biggest advantage of choosing a premium stock photo website is the guarantee of working with a unique visual resource, whether it’s a photo, an illustration, or an element used in graphic design. And there are options for all budgets — premium stock photos are more affordable than you might imagine.

Here are some of the best places for creative professionals to find premium stock photography.

1. Creative Market

Best premium resource for unique photo assets, worry-free licensing, and affordability.  

As the world’s leading marketplace for pre-made design assets, Creative Market has everything you need to bring your creative projects to life — fonts, graphics, templates, illustrations, and a vast Photo Catalog with millions of bold, unique stock photos that are anything but generic. Photos serve a variety of niches including marketing and social media, digital ads, broadcasting and streaming, editorial content, and so much more.

With aesthetically curated photo collections to inspire your most creative ideas, you can spend less time searching for the perfect stock photo and more time designing captivating experiences. 

  • Cost: Photos can be purchased individually starting at $5 per photo. Or save 20% on any asset in the marketplace with Membership plans starting at $9.95 per month. Join now!
  • Licensing: Personal, Commercial, and Extended photo licenses are available for all needs. License unique photos with peace of mind.
unique stock photos

2. Stocksy

Stocksy is a cooperative of creatives offering authentic photos and videos produced by industry professionals. You won't find the images you find on Stocksy anywhere else, since images are purchased directly, rather than the typical browse-and-click approach. 

  • Cost: For photos, pricing starts at $15 and goes up to $125, depending on the resolution. For videos, the price varies according to quality. 
  • Licensing: All photos and videos are sold under the Standard Royalty-Free license, which covers commercial use with certain rules. You can also purchase extended licenses.
Stocksy stock photo website

3. Getty Images

In business for over 25 years, Getty Images offers unique media captured and created by world-renowned photographers, videographers, and illustrators. The platform also offers several customized services for all types of visual content.

You'll find photo essays, editorials, photojournalism, historical photos, 4K and HD videos, music, graphic design resources, and other media produced by hundreds of thousands of creators.

  • Cost: Getty Images provides a variety of pricing plans.
  • Licensing: There are three types of license models: royalty-free (RF), rights-ready (RR), and rights-managed (RM). It's important to note that royalty-free doesn't mean free — it means the license fee is only paid once.
Getty images stock photo

4. Death to Stock Photo

With more generous prices than the big competitors, Death to Stock Photo is a great paid alternative for those who need original, creative, high-resolution photos and videos. More than 6,500 new photos are added every month, all produced by talented artists funded by the platform’s membership plans.

  • Cost: Pricing starts at $12 and goes up to $33, with monthly and yearly purchase options.
  • Licensing: The platform offers three license models: limited, standard, and extended.
Death to the stock photo websites

5. Shutterstock

With over 300 million licensed images, Shutterstock is the market giant when it comes to paid stock photos. In addition to photographs, you can purchase vectors, editorial pieces, sound effects, music, 3D models, backgrounds, and other creative assets. The Shutterstock platform also has an API that companies can integrate with their tools and apps. 

  • Cost: For small or one-off requests, there are packages and subscriptions for $29 or $49 per month. For businesses, the lowest tier is $479 monthly.
  • Licensing: It offers a standard or extended license for personal and commercial use. 
Shutterstock home page

6. Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock has a library of over 100 million high-resolution images, all of which are integrated into Creative Cloud. For designers and illustrators, finding, purchasing, and using Adobe Stock’s imagery is quick and easy. In addition to exclusive photographs, Adobe offers other visual resources, such as illustrations, vectors, videos, templates, 3D assets, and more, all seamlessly integrated with your favorite Adobe apps.

  • Cost: Three types of subscriptions are available, ranging from $29.99 to $199.99 per month.
  • Licensing: The platform grants various license types for commercial and personal use, including standard, enhanced, extended, limited, and editorial.
Adobe stock photos

Explore millions of bold stock photos, minus the stocky feel.

Start exploring

Best Free Stock Photo Websites

A tight budget doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality and originality. We’ve scoured the web to find the 16 best free stock photo sites. There are endless options that cater to every possible niche: vintage, food, travel, lifestyle, landscape — you name it. Discover stock photos sites you didn't know about too!

7. Unsplash

One of the best all-around stock image sites on the web, Unsplash has more than 1 million professional quality photos in high resolution, including a new category with 3D images. The site serves as something of a portfolio for professional photographers, so photo attribution is pretty common when using someone’s work, although it’s not required. 

Unsplash also provides a popular API that developers leverage to add quality photo searching to their apps and tools. For example, design tools, such as Figma and Sketch, have an Unsplash browser built-in. For top-notch free photos, Unsplash is hard to beat.

  • Licensing: Free for personal and commercial use without attribution.
Unsplash stock photos

8. Pexels

Photographers from over 170 countries support Pexels' image collection. To top it off, the site’s sizable database of photos is curated by a team of professionals to ensure quality and originality. 

Pexels is particularly popular for bloggers, marketers, content creators, and anyone looking for some great wallpapers. As another photo-centric site, it regularly promotes interviews with photographers and offers photo challenges with prizes. The site also provides an easy-to-use API for websites and apps.

  • Licensing: Free for personal and commercial use without attribution.
Pexels free stock photo website

9. Pixabay

Another popular site for creators looking for high-quality photos and stock videos is Pixabay. Pixabay has over 2.6 million high-quality images and videos free for personal and commercial purposes. The site is easy to use and has quality filters to help you find what you’re looking for.

There are also over 200,000 royalty-free illustrations for designers and illustrators to use freely, too. Most recently, Pixabay moved into the sound space and now offers hundreds of free sound effects and music.

  • Licensing: Free for personal and commercial projects without attribution.
Pixabay free stock photos

10. Picjumbo

Created in 2013, Picjumbo has a vast collection of images submitted by photographers and travelers, and all are high resolution, great quality, and totally free. Hundreds of new options are uploaded daily, so there’s always fresh material.

While it’s relatively new, Picjumbo is growing in popularity, with millions of downloads and counting. It also has a premium service that offers thousands of exclusive photos.

  • Licensing: Free for personal and commercial use, although some images may have trademarks, logos, objects, or personal properties protected by copyright.
Picjumbo free stock photo website

11. Rawpixel Public Domain

For art design lovers, Rawpixel Public Domain is a perfect choice. It offers over a million professional photos, graphics, templates, mockups, and other design and illustration resources. 

Rawpixel searches for original digital collections all over the world to fuel its free collection, and the results are bursting with creativity and authenticity. It’s one site that’s worth checking if you’re looking for something original to kick off a new design project.

  • Licensing: Free for personal and commercial use without attribution.
Free stock photos public domain

12. Vintage Stock Photos

Vintage Stock Photos is a wonderful photo resource for creators with a soft spot for nostalgia. You can find thousands of photos, most of which are somewhere between 40 and 80 years old, in remastered JPEG format. 

The site’s photos were all acquired from private collections. If you stumble upon a rare image that’s too small or overprocessed, Vintage Stock Photos can help you re-scan and remaster it. 

  • Licensing: Free for personal use, and attribution is not mandatory. It's also free for commercial use, with some restrictions.
Free vintage stock photos

13. The Public Domain Review

Another site that deserves a look is The Public Domain Review. Founded in 2011, the platform offers a wealth of media from public archives, some of it more than a century old.

The Public Domain Review is also an online magazine, with essays and other collections. Highly regarded by specialized critics, the site attracts droves of researchers, writers, scholars, and art history lovers.

  • Licensing: Free for personal and commercial use. However, some photos may include copyright or have restrictions attached to them. To learn more, review the site's guide to rights labeling
free public domain images

14. Flickr Commons

Born of a pilot project with the Library of Congress, Flickr Commons has a noble mission, which is to share as many public photographs with the world as possible. And every one of them is classified as having no known copyright restrictions.

Currently, the Flickr Commons image bank is supplied by dozens of libraries, museums, universities, and government institutions across several countries. You can even lend their cause a hand by creating tags and adding comments.

  • Licensing: Free for personal and commercial use without attribution.
Flickr commons free photos

15. Vecteezy

Vecteezy is one of the most popular platforms for designers, marketers, and freelancers, but even major brands are known to use it on occasion. With millions of hand-selected, high-quality photos, vectors, videos, and illustrations, it’s easy to understand why.

Vecteezy also guarantees authorization for the use of any material. In addition to its free database, the site also offers a paid service for exclusive images.

  • Licensing: Free for personal and commercial use without attribution.
Vecteezy free images

16. Picography

Picography stands out for its advanced search filters, which help you find the perfect image you’ve been searching for. Another positive is that all photos are Creative Commons Zero licensed, which means they’re free for personal and commercial use with no attribution. The photos available on Picography are high quality, making them great for marketing and advertising professionals.

  • Licensing: Free for personal and commercial use without attribution.
royalty-free stock images

17. Startup Stock Photos

Looking for stock photos for business and startup material? Head over to Startup Stock Photos — another niche stock site, where you’ll find thousands of high-quality images of office environments and startup boardrooms. 

The founders of Startup Stock created the site in 2014, starting with just a few photos of their friends and family. Today, the site attracts thousands of visitors, especially bloggers, freelancers, designers, and content marketers.

  • Licensing: Free for personal and commercial use without attribution.
free corporate stock photos

18. Foodiesfeed

The Foodiesfeed website was born out of a shared passion between the founders, Jakub and Hana: traveling around the world and eating (and photographing) amazing food. While this repo only has about 1,700 photos, each one is hand selected, and the results are stunning. 

For food bloggers and content creators in the restaurant space, Foodiesfeed is a must-have. Organized by category, the site's images are high quality and easy to find. 

  • Licensing: Free for personal and commercial use. Since the photos are donated, the site credits the photography, but it’s not mandatory for users.
Free stock photos food and restaurant

19. Gratisography

If you’re looking for stock photography sites that are out of the ordinary, check out Gratisography, certainly one of the most innovative stock photo sites on the web.

Founded by creative photographer Ryan McGuire, the site offers thousands of unique photos, many of them produced by the founder himself. It also offers vector graphics in EPS format, so it’s worth a look for designers, too. 

  • Licensing: Free for personal and commercial use without attribution.
free stock photo website

20. Kaboompics

If you’re on the hunt for photos with impeccable color palettes, composition, and impressive use of negative space, you’ll find more than a few on Kaboompics. This site was founded by talented photographer Karoline Grabowska and has over 17,000 exquisite photos, many of which are in the interior design and lifestyle category.

The secret of Kaboompics' success is working in the sophisticated intricacies of photography. You can download resources used in photo productions, such as color palettes and composition materials.

  • Licensing: Free for personal and commercial use without attribution.
free stock photography

21. The Pic Pac

With the motto “Do wherever you want with the pics,” The Pic Pac was created by designer-photographer Matt Jones, who, in his own words, “loves photography and dislikes expensive stock photos.” Twice a week, he offers free travel-themed photo shoots.

In addition to free photos, he publishes and sells trending photographic essays once a week, although he doesn’t specify a price — you pay what you want.

  • Licensing: Free for personal and commercial use without attribution.
free unique stock photos

22. Skitterphoto

Created in 2014 by two amateur photographers, Skitterphoto is defined as “a place to find, show, and share public domain photos.” It’s widely used by small businesses, content creators, and freelancers.

The site also allows other photographers to share their images with users while adhering to the rules of the public domain. Any user photos are also evaluated before publishing and must meet quality standards.

  • Licensing: Free for personal and commercial use without attribution.
skitter stock photo website

Choosing the right stock photo license

Great photos are key to the success of just about any brand. But choosing the wrong ones can get you or your business into trouble, so it’s worth a quick look at the different licenses and what they mean.

  • Photos licensed as free for personal and commercial use mean you can do what you like with them without worry. The Creative Commons license is mostly free, although the individual who created the piece can add restrictions on their work, so pay attention to the details. 
  • Images with an editorial use license are for use in articles and other reporting media. While there’s no license fee, you can’t profit from the images exclusively. This license is similar to public domain images.
  • Lastly, from most to least affordable, there are rights-managed, royalty-free, and extended use licenses, which are the licensing models usually found on premium sites. Each one varies considerably, but the principle is that the more you pay, the fewer restrictions you have.

Whether you use a free stock site or pay for higher-quality photos, be sure to read any copyright restrictions carefully, so you understand what you can and can’t do with the media you choose. If it seems too good to be true, you may end up paying a higher price later.

Kickstart your creative projects with millions of pre-designed assets.

Browse Marketplace
  • Streamline your workflow

  • Design faster and smarter

  • Support independent creators

You might also like

photo editing tips graphic design

5 creative photo editing tips every graphic designer should know

November 23, 2021 5 min read
where to find graphic design jobs

Top 12 Websites to Find Graphic Design Jobs (Full‑Time & Freelance)

December 06, 2021 5 min read

12 Best Portfolio Website Builders for Designers

August 05, 2022 14 min read
digital products to sell

Top 10 Digital Products to Sell as a Graphic Designer

November 22, 2021 8 min read