16 September 2014
Building Website
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Free High Resolution Stock Images for your Website

Internet users are notoriously impatient. If your site loads “too slowly” or is “too wordy”, they tend to click away without reading much of what you are writing. However, by inserting attractive images, you are able to encourage readers to continue reading your content. Your site inevitably becomes more fun to visit.

These days, finding images from the internet is much easier, even free high quality images too. You just need to know where to find them.

Where to Find Images for Websites

There are times when you visit a new site (or newspapers, magazines, billboards, books etc.) and couldn’t help but admire the professionally-taken awe-inspiring photos. In most cases, it comes from either one of 2 sources: either

  • they hire a professional photographer for the picture; or
  • they bought a pre-existing image. The latter is called stock images.

In simple terms, stock images are images that can be used by the general public for personal, creative or promotional purposes. These photos are shot by photographers and stored online at stock images agencies or companies where potential users like you and I, can search for them. The advantages of using stock images include being a faster and cheaper option compared to a new photo shoot by a professional photographer.

As you may have guessed or known, most of these stock images comes with a price. However, there are sites which offer free stock images. More on this later.

Misconceptions about Online Images

First, let’s clear off some misconceptions many have over images found online, whether from online stock image sites or from Googling them. Below are some questions that you may have but were too embarrassed to ask and their answers.

  • Q: Can I use the images I find on the internet?

    A: No. Just because the images are publicly found online, it doesn’t mean that they are free for you to download. Using them, whether knowingly or unknowingly, can be a copyright infringement.

  • Q: Then where can I obtain images from?

    A: You can find downloadable images from online searchable databases. These images usually have licenses attached to them.

  • Q: What kind of licenses?

    A: There are 2 common licenses i.e. royalty free (RF) and rights managed (RM). Royalty free does not mean that the images are totally free to use. What it means is that once a license fee is paid (usually quite cheap), you are allowed multiple use of that image with no time limit, provided you comply with the terms and conditions of the license agreement.

    Rights managed images are those that have restricted usage with limitations like duration of usage, geographical locations where it can be used, etc.

  • Q: Are there any free images that I can download legally?

    A: Yes, there are. These free-to-use images are still copyrighted but the owner has specifically expressed that the images are free to be downloaded. Below are some sites where you can find free stock images.

Download Free High Resolution Stock Images

Here is a collection of sites where you can download high resolution stock images for free, legally. Even designers hop over to some of these sources for images. Do check them out and I hope you find them useful.

  1. MorgueFile


    This is one of the earliest free stock photo sites and has been around for almost 2 decades since it was founded in 1996. With over 300,000 of images, MorgueFile has a great selection of images that you can search through and are free to use. The images are beautifully taken and most importantly, are in high resolution formats too.

    The search option is another great feature. It is easy to use and very detail. You can also search images under certain pre-determined categories like most popular, recently uploaded, last downloaded and most downloads.

    Despite the high number of images, the site and the images load very quickly. A very useful website indeed. It even has a classroom section for aspiring photographers to learn and improve photography skills.

  2. FreeImages

    Free Images

    This is a community of over 30,000 photographers who share their pictures online. There are over 400,000 images online now and this number growing.

    You are required to create an account (it’s free) before you can download the photos. Members are generally free to use these photos for personal, commercial or educational purposes. However, you should refer to the image owner’s information box. Some members do include restriction over where the images can be used in.

    Images are searchable and can be filtered by tags, member’s name, file name, type of camera used, and even the country or city the photo was taken.

  3. Picjumbo


    This is a new stock images site, having only been founded in November 2013. However, despite the short span of time, this site has gained much respect from users. The collection may be small but judging from the pictures that Victor Hanacek (the owner) has uploaded, he has placed quality ahead of quantity. Furthermore, his collection is quite unique and you probably won’t find them elsewhere.

    Victor allows users to download the images and to use them for both personal and commercial purposes. In return, he asked for attribution, though not required. Oh, and he did list down a detailed list of what you can and can’t use the photos for.

  4. FreePixels


    Personally, I like them because of their high resolution photos. And they have over 24 million of royalty-free stock images in their database ! With that many images, chances are that you will be able to find something here that you can’t find in other stock images sites. You need to sign up for an account before you can download but it’s free.

    Images are divided into categories like abstract, animals, arts, architecture and business. Users have the option to search the vast database for images that matches their requirements.

  5. Sunipix


    Sunipix is a venture of Abraham Thomas Foundation. It has more than 15,000 images in their database and includes not only stock images but also fonts, templates, posters as well as vector graphics. They have quite a wide and interesting collection of works, ranging from plants and places to paleontology.

    Download is free with registration. You are not able to choose your download size but most of the images are of high resolution (100 DPI). You can consider linking to their website and giving them credit, they will appreciate it.

  6. Photogen


    Another great site for free stock images is Photogen. This site is constantly updated with new images. The images are in high resolution JPEG format and are great if you want them for blogs or even for graphic and web designs. Many designers and creative people find this site a useful source of quality images.

  7. Stockvault


    This is a neat site offering both free and premium high resolution stock images. They used to be self-run and self-updated. But since they started accepting images from other photographers, their collection has grown leaps and bound.

    They currently have more than 47,000 free images, ranging from 3D renders to people and vector graphics. If you are looking for inspirations, you can browse through their “most” categories e.g. most viewed, most downloaded and etc.

  8. Everystockphoto

    Every Stock Photo

    This site works slightly different from all the above. Everystockphoto is a search engine for free photos. That’s right. It pulls images from dozens of stock photo sites all over the internet (that include Flickr, stock.xchng, MorgueFile, ImageAfter) based on your search keywords.

    The results will be displayed in thumbnails format. When you click on the thumbnail, you will see the high resolution version of the photo together with other details like the image’s resolution, license details and photographer’s name. You can even rate the photo and leave comments.

  9. Pixabay


    This is one of the largest sources of free public domain images with over 220,000 images to search from. Images found here are not restricted to just photos but also vectors, clip arts and drawings. Once you identified your photo and clicked on “download”, you have the option to choose the resolution that fits your requirement.

    You are allowed to use the photos freely, with no attribution terms attached, for your personal and commercial purposes. Registration is optional.

  10. PDPics.com

    Public domain pics

    This site is a repository of free public domain pictures. “Public domain” pictures are pictures that are not protected by copyright and that it can be used freely by anyone. However, you should not take these pictures and copyright it to yourself. That would be wrong of course.

    Anyway, there are tons of pictures here and chances are that you will find something that fits your requirements. The pictures’ quality varies, sometimes you may find a picture with a lower resolution than the others. Nevertheless, there are lots of impressive pictures in a wide range of categories such as animals, jewellery and technology.

  11. Death to the Stock Photo

    Death to the stock photo

    The owners of Death to the Stock Photo wanted to do something different as compared to the “boring and inauthentic” stock pictures. Thus, most of their pictures are unplanned and feature the more natural subjects and candid moments.

    If you sign up with them, you will receive 7 free photos immediately. Subsequently, you will receive a link to download high resolution un-watermarked images via your email. You are free to download these photos for your own use in anyway you want. There are just a few minor restrictions but nothing major.

  12. Wikimedia Commons

    Wikimedia Commons

    Wikimedia Commons is an online repository of free images as well as sound files, videos, illustrations and other media files. It is the sister company of Wikipedia. Started back in 2004, the site now boasts of over 22 million free media files that anyone can download and use.

    Images and media files found on this site is uploaded by volunteers, from amateur to professional, from artists to the photographer living next door. Therefore, quality can differ from one image or file to another. However, you will also find interesting pictures that you probably won’t find elsewhere.


Images are no doubt one of the most crucial pieces of the content on your website. Blog posts with little or poor quality images do not provide good first impression and thus, do not attract visitors to continue reading. On the other hand, blog posts with quality images are more appealing and tend to entice visitors to stay longer and to return.

Fortunately, finding good quality images on the internet can be easy and inexpensive today. The above stock images sources are not just free but have high resolution images. They have lots of photos that you can browse through and I’m sure you will be able to find one (or more) which will fit your topic.

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