The 30 Best Free Stock Photo & Video Sites for Photographers to Share Their Content
As renowned photographer Sam Abell once said, “Essentially what photography is is life lit up.” For folks who wish to pursue photography not simply as a passion, but as a career, you’re likely aware of just how bright the world can be through the eye of your camera lens.
But, making it as a photographer isn't easy, especially now that quality photography equipment is so accessible today. With such a saturated market, it can be difficult to know how to get a foothold on a freelance photography career.
One of the most important things that you can do to start building your business is to develop a following, and a simple way to do that is by adding your photographs to free stock photo and video websites. On websites like Pixabay, Unsplash, Burst, and more, you’ll have the opportunity to share your talents with millions of stock photo seekers while gaining the admiration and ideally, business, of fans who enjoy your photos.
Although you won’t necessarily make money directly on these sites, you can build your client base from folks who are interested in your work and want to hire you based on what they see from your free photographs.
What’s more, many of these platforms allow you to share your website, social media, and other important information that can help potential clients keep up with your work. Plus, most of them have a much lower barrier to entry than sites where you can get paid for your content which is great if you’re just starting out.
That’s why we’ve put together this guide with 30 of the best stock photography and videography websites where you can upload your photographs for free and start building your following.
Photo licensing terms to know
But, before we do that, let’s talk about a few licensing terms you’re going to want to know! There are a number of different ways that your photographs can be accessible online, some of which allow you to retain certain rights. Here are a few of the most common options you’ll encounter on stock image sites:
- Creative Commons CC0. This is probably the most popular type of license you’ll find on stock photography sites. Under CC0, anyone can use, remix, or distribute your work without having to attribute credit to you as the creator. You’ll still retain certain basic rights as the creator, particularly that no one can try to pass their work off as their own. However, you won’t have any control over how and where your work is distributed.
- Royalty-free. Royalty-free images can be used repeatedly without paying an additional charge for each use. That means that folks can either pay a one-time fee or, in the case of many of the websites we’ve discussed here, pay no fee to have unlimited use of your photographs.
- Public domain. Works in the public domain are essentially the property of the public, meaning they’re not subject to intellectual and property laws in the same way as your own work. Being public domain means that anyone can use the content, and that no one owns it.
- Exclusive vs. non-exclusive. Some platforms may require that your content is exclusively available on their site, meaning you won’t be able to offer it elsewhere. However, for most of the free sites, your footage or pictures will be non-exclusive, so you can share them on other sites as well.
30 free stock photo & video sites
With more than 1.5 million photos in their catalog, Pixabay is one of the top free and royalty-free photo sites out there. Once you start posting photos, users can like and favorite them and subscribe to follow your work.
Your profile features buttons that easily link out to your social media profiles. Perhaps the best feature for photographers is the “coffee” button, which allows fans to send you a tip through PayPal as a thank you for your work.
Unsplash hosts over 90,000 photographers who’ve made their beautiful photographs free for public use. When you submit photos, you’ll be able to create a photographer profile that others can follow, with a feed that looks pretty similar to Instagram and other social media sites.
Make sure to include your website in your profile so others can find your work!
In order to get your photos on this site, you’ll need to apply and get approval from the Burst team. Once you’re selected, you can create a profile with a link back to your website or social media to direct followers to your work.
Hosting a curated selection of images, Pexels is a great place to put up your photos. Because Pexels only selects your best images, you and your followers can trust that they’ll get quality photographs on this site.
Users can tip you for your images through PayPal, plus Pexels hosts monthly contests where you can earn cash prizes.
If you’ve got a quirky, creative eye, Gratisography might just be the site for you. They feature fun and unique photos that break up the monotony of traditional stock photos. That includes stuff like cat pics, people making goofy faces, and teeny tiny plants.
Users can learn more about you from your profile, which includes a bio and space to put in hyperlinks to your website and social media.
StockSnap curates gorgeous images from talented professional and amateur photographers. New users can submit five photos to start and as long as they meet the quality standards and impress the folks who run the site, you’ll be able to submit more over time.
Folks can like and favorite your pictures and all photos will link to your profile page where you can create a short bio and include links to your site.
Freepik focuses on graphic design and illustration content, so it’s best for photographers who are talented at creating simple scenes, backgrounds, posters, banners, and abstract images that can easily be incorporated into graphic design projects.
This site isn’t quite like the other — although Freepik’s standard content is free, contributors create work for Premium subscribers who pay a small fee to get exclusive content and licensing rights.
You don’t need to pay to contribute, although you will need to pass a review. Once you’re signed up as a contributor, you’ll earn a small commission based on how many downloads you receive from Premium users.
Magdeleine hosts hand-picked free stock photos from some incredibly gifted artists. Many of their photographs focus on nature, architecture, and people. Each day they select a photograph to feature on their homepage which can help you gain even more exposure if your picture is chosen.
Plus, your artist profile can feature links to your website and your social media profiles. You can get started with Magdeleine by choosing your best photos and filling out their submission form here.
Barnimages is a site that shares photographs with their followers through a weekly newsletter.
It was started by two Latvian photographers who were interested in disrupting the stock photography space by presenting high-quality, royalty-free images you won’t find anywhere else. And, perhaps ironically, they don’t actually have any images of barns on their site — most of their photos focus on everyday items, people, and nature.
They’re currently looking for quality contributors and you can submit your portfolio by filling out this form.
Named for the photography term that describes the space around and between subjects in a picture, NegativeSpace hosts a vibrant community of thousands of content creators. Every photographer whose work is accepted for the site gets their own profile which can include links to your website, portfolio, and social media sites.
You can submit your high-resolution photographs of objects, technology, animals, space, people, and more by check out their page for photographers here.
Founded by two amateur photographers from the Netherlands in 2014, SkitterPhoto hosts pictures from artists around the world. Photographers can keep track of how their photos are doing by keeping up with them on SkitterPhoto’s search engine and by tracking metrics from users who can like, favorite, and download your pictures.
SkitterPhoto does allow users to tip artists whose work they appreciate through PayPal. The platform allows you to share your website and social media links with users, plus they select top photographers to share across Barnimages' social media sites which can help you gain additional exposure.
Featuring hand-picked photos and illustrations from tons of talented content creators, Stockvault hosts over 97,000 members. Stockvault accepts most images that meet their quality guidelines.
For photographers who are already signed up with Google AdSense, you can also participate in their revenue-sharing program where you’ll receive 100% of the revenue from ad clicks and impressions from your photos.
This media sharing site is a branch of the nonprofit Wikimedia. It hosts over 48 million photographs from artists around the globe, and anyone can contribute.
The main downside to Wikimedia Commons is that because there are so many photographs available, it can be challenging to make your presence known. However, they do host monthly thematic challenges where you can get inspired to create work, and the top photographers get shared on their featured contributors page.
Public Domain Pictures
With over 230,000 images and websites in 15 different languages, Public Domain Pictures is definitely a great bet for sharing your photos. You can upload images at any time as long as they meet the website guidelines and aren’t inappropriate.
On this site, you’ll actually earn $0.06 per each image that’s considered a premium download which is paid out via PayPal once you reach $10. Public Domain Pictures also hosts a monthly photo competition where the winner can earn up to $100.
Free Stock Photos
Free Stock Photos contains over 15,000 public domain images on subjects like travel, food, landscapes, and more. While they do have staff photographers who produce a lot of their content, they’re always looking for user contributions for their library as well.
You can inquire about submitting your work by filling out the contact form here.
Hosting over 1,000 food images, Foodiesfeed is a great resource for the food photographers out there. Their galleries are hand-curated and edited by the site’s founder and original photographer Jakub Kapusnak.
Photographers on Foodiesfeed are each given their own profile page where they can share their social media pages and where clients can make hiring inquiries.
Foodiesfeed also shares popular photos across their own social media, offering more exposure for the site’s top content creators. Create an account to start uploading your photos.
Visualhunt allows users to upload photos under the CC0 licensing agreement. Hosting over 350 million photographs, Visualhunt reviews all uploads made to ensure that their site only features high-quality content.
Once you’re signed up, you can create an artist profile which includes a short bio, a photo of you, and links to your website. In addition to offering photos uploaded directly to their site, they also feature a selection of Creative Commons images from Flickr.
Coverr distributes royalty-free background videos that people can use on their homepage for personal, business, or other websites. Their contributor pool is fairly small, so it’s unclear how often they accept new videographers in their ranks.
However, their videos are of a very high quality and they upload seven new products every Monday. You can check out their artistic guidelines and submit your videos here.
Picography has been around for three years, distributing high-quality, royalty-free images. All of their photos are CC0-licensed and available for use with no attribution required. Most of their photos are in the travel, object, and everyday categories and feature dreamy filters.
You can upload your photographs by submitting a form here. Make sure you check out their guidelines before you hit send!
Reshot is a relatively new free photo site featuring unique creative content. Their mission is to bring creatives together to create distinctly “non-stocky” photos that have more of a human feel.
Although they’re currently in open beta, they’ll be officially opening up for business in the upcoming months. If you want to contribute photos, you can reach out to them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Morguefile bills itself as a stock photo platform for and by creatives. In addition to uploading photos generally, users compete for money in regular challenges by uploading photos based on a particular theme. Those photos are then available for free to others under the CC0 license.
When you refer 10 other users to Morguefile, you’re eligible to get a free Pro upgrade which gets you access to features like photo editing, tracking your download history, and more.
Refe Photos specializes in natural-looking stock photos created by mobile devices. Admittedly, only some of their photographs are free, but the ones that are not cost $5 and can be used without limits and are royalty-free after the initial purchase.
Life of Pix
Life of Pix was created by the LEEROY Creative Group from Montreal and has a regularly-updated gallery of high-resolution stock images. They frequently feature photographers who’ve made excellent submissions to the site on their social media feed which could help get you added exposure if your work is selected.
Users can also like and download your photos, plus contributors each get a profile where you can post your website and social media pages.
Featuring a line of beautiful images mainly centered around technology, nature, and food, ShotStash is a small independently-managed stock photography site. They offer a generous license policy with few limits on how, where, and how many times their followers can use photographs from the site.
ShotStash is always looking for talented new contributors with an eye for interesting images, so contact them on their site to apply.
This site is exclusively for stock video and audio and hosts over 120,000 clips. Most of the work you’ll find on Videvo is short 15 to 20 second videos of everyday life, objects, and nature that folks can use on their social media profiles and websites.
Putting your own clips on Videvo simply involves registering for a free profile and using their upload feature. Clips are all moderated and should be available for use within seven days of uploading.
You’ll also get your own profile where you can post your website and social media and see how many people have downloaded your clips.
Splitshire hosts free stock photos and videos and was created as a space to showcase images that might otherwise be resigned to live in oblivion on a hard drive somewhere. A lot of the content deals with fashion, people, nature, and everyday objects.
You can fill out their simple submission form here to have your photos considered by their reviewer, and once you’re set up, you’ll have an author page where folks can check out all of the photos you’ve uploaded.
Snapwire isn’t exactly a free website, but it’s a great place for you to get your foot in the door. Photographers can start by submitting work to their regular challenges where buyers can like your work and nominate you to become a “Shooter” for the site.
With each purchase of your work or nomination, you’ll earn points that can set you on track to become one of their Pro photographers which lets you upload more photos and earn more money for your work. Plus, they’ve got an app that makes uploading from your mobile device super easy.
Freerange Stock offers tons of high-resolution photos over a range of different categories and subjects. It should be noted that the website is a mix of photographs and clip art illustrations, so it may not be the most reliable source that people look to for stock photos.
However, you can earn a small amount of money on the site if you’ve got a Google AdSense account. Freerange reports that 50% of the revenue from ad impressions on their website goes to their contributors. You can learn more and submit your work here.
Raw Pixel offers tons of free photos with an eye for inspiring design and sleek visuals. Users can sign up for a Premium plan to gain access to additional photos.
You won’t be able to create a profile or upload photos on this site automatically, so in order to get involved with Raw Pixel, you’ll need to shoot them an email at email@example.com.
This site targets creative professionals with stunning photos in categories including business, food, fashion, architecture, and more. ISO Republic will share your photos widely via their social media presence as well as their weekly newsletter.
However, users beware: although the site claims to have linkbacks to social media for each image, most of the images on the website do not have artist credits or linkbacks.
As with any freelance career, building up your client base is going to take time. And, while it may not be ideal to give away your work for free right now, it’s important to keep in mind that your effort in the early stages will all be worthwhile when you’re able to sustain yourself on your photography work. With the right attitude and a little perseverance, you’ve got a great career ahead of you!
While you’re at it, be sure to keep up with the Knoji blog where we regularly post articles with advice on how to move forward in your career and save money. Plus, head over to the Knoji homepage where we’ve answered thousands of questions about getting discounts and savings at your favorite retailers.