Everyone who works online and runs his own website knows the problem with the image search. If you don’t want to shoot all the photos for your website yourself and expensive photostocks are beyond your budget, only a free and royalty-free image database can help. So if you are looking for an alternative to Fotolia, Shutterstock and Co. you are right here. I’ve listed 20 of the best, free image archives here, where you can help yourself freely. Important for me in the selection of image databases was:
- The possibility to download high-resolution images for free and not only very small photos that you can hardly use.
- That not only the private, but also the commercial use is possible without restrictions. So the images should also be free for commercial use.
- That you don’t have to register first, but have access to the images without registration.
- That the images are backlink free. You do not have to set a link to the source of the image.
Royalty-free images for free without registration and without login
Are you like me? I’m actually always in a hurry and just don’t have the time to keep picking out login details from all sorts of providers. While 1Password does help me with my login management, I still try to avoid logins whenever possible. That’s why in this article I’ll only introduce you to sources where you can download royalty-free images for free without registration.
What do you have to pay attention to legally when using free images?
You wouldn’t believe how expensive a free image can be. Namely, if you violate rights with the publication, which you have not thought of before. I do not want to let you run into the open knife and explain to you briefly what you must pay attention to.
Pay attention to model releases
A model release is a signed release of a model. With this release, the person on a photo confirms that he agrees with the publication and distribution.
With very few exceptions, the free images in the image databases do not have such a signed release. That’s why I always advise you not to use pictures where the persons are completely recognizable. If you see only a hand or a leg, it’s ok. If a happy couple is smiling directly into the camera, I would be rather cautious.
Watch out for brand logos and products
Found a cool picture where you see a basketball player’s legs tucked into brand new Nike Air? The picture may be cool, but Nike probably objects to you using it. To avoid problems with trademark owners, you should take a close look at the free images. Do products appear that may be trademarked? Can you even see the logo of a brand directly on the image? Then it’s better to leave them alone.
What licenses apply to the free images?
Paradoxically, but royalty-free does not automatically mean that there are no rules at all. Even for most high-resolution images that you can download for free, there are rules. All free image databases listed here offer their images under the CC0 Creative Commons license.
The Creative Commons CC0 license indicates that you can use the images from the free image databases listed below freely, without attribution and without restrictions. You are only not allowed to resell them or misuse them for racist, sexually offensive or inhuman purposes. And now enough about the boring legal part. Let’s dive into the wonderful world of free images and photos. Here are the 20 best free image databases on the net:
1. The largest free image database: Pexels
Pexels is probably one of the biggest free image databases on the net and that’s why it lands at number 1 in this list. Pexels not only lists its own images, but also serves as a kind of meta-search engine for photos. This means that images from other image archives are also listed on the site. The image archive currently has thousands of free images to download in the database, which can be used royalty-free. They can be used for private as well as for commercial projects. So you can also use the images on your company website or your Facebook page. If you use images from Pexels, you can even do without naming the photographer. Personally, I think it’s a fair move to name the author anyway. By the way, an insider tip is the Photoshop plugin from Pexels. With it, you can search for images directly from Photoshop and drag them into your templates. It really doesn’t get any easier than that 😉 If you want to download high resolution images for free, Pexels is an absolute tip for you. All images are royalty-free, free and can be downloaded without registration.
2. Download royalty free images for free without registration at Unsplash
The free image database Unsplash takes the second place in my personal hit list. The website started in 2013 as a small Tumblr blog for photos and has since become one of the largest websites for free images and photos. On Unsplash, the quality of the images is absolutely paramount and that’s exactly why you’ll find images there that are extremely worth seeing and of high quality. Also in this free image database, the licensing model is very simple. You can use the images for all private and commercial projects. A naming of the respective photographer would be great and desired, but does not have to be. On Unsplash, the royalty-free images are not just free, but can also be downloaded directly without registration.
3. Free images without link obligation at Pixabay
I am always happy when projects from Germany international steep. Pixabay is just such a project and one of the pioneers among the free image archives and Photostocks. Hans Braxmeier and Simon Steinberger had the idea for this website at some point and have since built it up with their team to become one of the largest free image databases. On Pixabay you will find not only high quality photos, but also quite a few images that are more like snapshots. It often happens that you do not necessarily want to use professional images in a project or on a website, but are looking for authentic images. For this, Pixabay is a clear recommendation. Again, you are free to use the images in private and commercial projects without having to name the author. However, if you want to thank someone for the free images, you should do so by naming them. Also on Pixabay a registration is not necessary. You can download the mostly high-resolution images without registration and royalty-free.
4. Download royalty-free graphics for free without registration at Freepik
I love Freepik! This website is not a pure photostock, but lists images and illustrations. While the images are great and you can often find them here, the free illustrations are really premium quality. In addition, Freepik also offers a worthwhile premium variant, which I gladly booked as a monthly subscription. Here you get even more images and illustrations and the source reference is omitted completely. You can download a variety of graphics, illustrations and images at Freepik without registration. But the platform is only really good when you subscribe to the premium version. Then you have a paradisiacal selection and don’t have to worry about licenses anymore.
When a free image database grows as fast as StockSnap, it’s absolutely brilliant for all visitors. Every week hundreds of new free images are added for download. StockSnap actually manages to guarantee an excellent quality that you would otherwise only find in paid photostocks. This makes StockSnap a real alternative to Fotolia, Shutterstock and Co. StockSnap offers you royalty-free images for free without registration.
If you regularly need fresh images for your website, blog or social media channels, Picjumbo is definitely worth a click. Picjumbo is updated daily with new images in absolutely good quality. I really like the “similar images” feature, which is extremely helpful. For example, if you have found an image for an article that you like, you can use this function to display other similar free images. This way you can create a consistent style in an article or on your entire website. Also on Picjumbo you can find free images without registration.
Kaboompics is a free image archive from Poland. The site offers beautiful images in excellent quality. It also includes unique photos that you won’t find in other image databases and photostocks. Especially for lifestyle, interior and design bloggers Kaboompics is a real goldmine and currently offers about 12,500 images.
8. The free image database from Splitshire
If you are looking for breathtaking images in excellent quality, Splitshire is the right place for you. The images that you can download here for free, you really do not find at every corner. Also in the free image database of Splitshire you can download royalty-free images directly without registration. A big special is that you can download not only images, but also video clips for free. The videos offered are ideal as background clips on your website, for example.
Burst is a service of the store system provider Shopify. It is primarily intended for Shopify customers, but you can also download images for free on Burst without a subscription. A registration is also not necessary with Burst. Just go to the site, choose a nice image and download it.
Reshot collects in the free image database rather rare images that you cannot find everywhere. Here it is not only about excellent quality, but also about the uniqueness of the image material. The big advantage in Reshot’s free images is that they don’t look like Photostock images. This kind of images always looks too extremely posed and promotional in my opinion. The imagery at Reshot looks natural and not at all, like from the advertising box. For me, the first choice!
11. Free food images at FoodiesFeed
Gratisography is dedicated to creative photos. That’s why you’ll also find photos that are extremely unusual in this free image database. Nevertheless, the image quality is excellent and all images can be downloaded free of charge and royalty-free. By the way, it is also very pleasant that the download at Gratisography is possible completely without registration.
Freestocks is also a free image database, which has made it its business to list unusual images. The goal is clearly to stand out from the other providers of free images and to provide fresh, unused photos. Nevertheless, the images on Freestocks make a very professional impression and offer a suitable selection for almost every subject area.
Picography is not necessarily the biggest free Photostock, but it has one or the other high-resolution photo treasure ready for you. Picography scores especially in the categories landscape photography and technology. The site has been around for about 3 years now and you can see immediately that the focus here is on the quality of the images. Simple snapshots are rare here – really good, professional pictures are the rule.
15. MMT Stock
MMT Stock was started in 2014 as a private project of photographer Jeffrey Betts. This free image database is quite special in my eyes. Here, visitors cannot upload their own images and no photos from other Stocks are aggregated. All the images you find on MMT Stock have been personally shot by Jeffrey Betts. And the man knows his craft 🙂 You can download and use the royalty free images for free and without registration.
16. Life of Pix
Life of Pix is a free image database that I visit even when I don’t really need an image. The images are so great that sometimes I just check to see what new photos have been uploaded. The Canadian agency LEEROY is behind the website. Originally, the project was intended as a separate photo pool, which was then released to the public. However, based on the quality of the free images, you can still tell that professionals are behind the site and selecting the images.
17. New Old Stock
Isorepublic was called Shotstash until recently. Here you can also find high-quality free images and even videos for free download. While the free videos at Isorepublic are still a bit in the minority, it’s worth taking a look at the huge selection of high-quality free images.
19. Styled Stock
Styled Stock is a free photostock that specializes entirely in feminine photos. Thus, the free images are ideally suited for bloggers who tend to address women thematically. And that’s exactly why Styled Stock is a real pearl among free photo stock. One thing is a little annoying when you visit this stock. The free images are completely mixed with the premium images. So you have to search a bit to find the really free images. But in return, you will be rewarded with unique images that cater exactly to the different feminine niches.
20. Fancy Crave
Fancy Crave is also a free specialized image database. Here, everything revolves around travel images from all possible corners of the earth. Especially for bloggers from the travel/travel sector, Fancy Crave is a real goldmine! The free images are absolutely high quality and in places emotionally charged. Just the right image material for a travel blog.
Wunderstock used to be called re:splash, so it just changed its name. Wunderstock is a kind of meta-search engine that searches all possible image databases for free and royalty-free images and ejects the offer on a single page. In my search, Wunderstock primarily threw up images from Flickr. Quite a good alternative to the sometimes very posed images you can find elsewhere in Stocks. Still, for me Wunderstock is not necessarily the first choice. During my visits, the search for free photos worked rather clumsily and often spat out the same images. In addition, you have to check for each individual image under which license they may be used. Wunderstock works without registration, but still does not get a full recommendation from me.
Add the optimal image to your website
Now you have free image sources up to your eyeballs and are probably busy for the time being. But once you have made your choice, you should compress the new image material optimally. This will improve your loading times, please your visitors and help you to a better Google ranking