The Best Websites for Free Stock Photos and Videos

by Elizabeth Smith

Over the years, I’ve watched the stock photo industry grow from posed, cheesy photos with little artistic influence to what it is today — a beautiful arena of free content being used for digital, print, video and more.

If you’re still subscribing to traditional stock photo websites, you may want to rethink how you’re sourcing your content. There are so many fantastic photographers uploading their photos to free stock photo sites, let me repeat: FREE stock photos, for commercial use that are absolutely fantastic.

As social media marketers, we are always on the hunt for eye-catching images to fit within our client’s marketing plans. Whether I need a cityscape, a bouquet of flowers, or a group of students studying, I can download any number of images in the blink of an eye.

Here are the top sites for stock photos we use every day.


Pexels is the OG for free stock photos. I remember the exact email 5 years ago where a client mentioned this site to me, and I’ve been hooked ever since. When I noticed a lack of Chicago skyline photography, I uploaded  this photo of Chicago and it’s quickly become my most popular photo, downloaded 741 times and counting. I’ve actually seen it on a few Chicago websites and blogs.


I may be a little late to the game to have just discovered Unsplash, but hey — I’m glad I did and I can share it with you! Browsing through their photos for the first time was like Christmas morning for me, there are so many remarkable photos from well-respected photographers.


Pixabay is another resource for stock photos. Truth be told, it’s my second choice if I can’t find an image I like on Pexels (granted, this was before I knew of Upsplash so now it could be third 🤣). However, they have free HD stock videos, which is simply incredible! With video content taking over social media, we are incorporating this into almost all of our client’s 2019 strategies — and Pixabay is where we’ll be sourcing this content.


Pikwizard has a lot of pictures of people, which tend to be a little more rare in free stock photo sites. If you check out their site and search for "office" or "meeting" you'll see the quality of the pics on the site - these are great for our clients in need of corporate stock images.

Keep in mind, it’s important to follow a theme when sourcing your images. During this time of year, I feel like every Chicagoan needs a tropical vacay, so I searched through photos with the theme of ‘spring break’ in mind. I downloaded 20+ images, rearranged a bit and curated the below collection using these 9 photos from Pexels and Unsplash.

February 1, 2019