Free CC0 stock photos have become a huge commodity on the web. They’re easier to find than ever before and it’s quite possible there are millions of these photos to choose from.
These free photos certainly make design work easier, but finding high-quality photos for hero images can be a real pain. That’s why I’ve curated the absolute best sites to help you find HQ photos for all your web design projects.
First in this collection is NegativeSpace, featuring a gorgeous high-resolution gallery of stock photos. But these photos don’t have that cheesy vibe you typically expect from stock photo sites.
They all look incredibly natural and they span a wide array of topics. You can find photos to use on a business website, a restaurant homepage, or even pictures to use as featured photos on your personal blog.
Categories are easy to browse through and the layout is incredibly simple. If you need genuine-looking stock photos then start with NegativeSpace.
One thing I like about Pexels is the variety. They update their site frequently and it’s been around for years now, so their photo archive is extensive.
For a huge variety and some wild search options Pexels is yet another fantastic site to bookmark.
All the photos on LibreStock come from dozens of other sources. This site works like a search engine for CC0 stock photography where you can enter a search term and browse 40+ different sites all at once.
Since many stock photo sites are small, they also don’t have many photos. But the photos they do have are usually unique and not found elsewhere. So LibreStock saves you time searching all these sites at once and curating the results in one place.
This is my go-to resource to search all the smaller sites before visiting the larger ones.
Unsplash is perhaps the original HD stock photo website. It started in 2013 and grew rapidly due to the high-quality photos and the universal CC0 license.
Since none of these photos have copyright restrictions they’re prime pickings for designers from all fields. Most other CC0 stock photo sites came afterwards and few can compete with the massive library that Unsplash commands.
The only downside is that Unsplash doesn’t have a great search feature and many of the best photos aren’t tagged. So you might spend a while digging through just to find a gem, but it’s worth the effort.
With StockSnap you can actually make your own account and curate all your favorite photos together.
All StockSnap photos are CC0 and they’re certainly large enough for hero images. And since you can bookmark your favorites you have easy access to find the original photographer, the tags, and even related photos based on size/color and content.
I just recently found Everypixel and it’s one heck of a search engine. This site does not host stock photos locally, but instead searches through dozens of sources on the web.
By default it mixes free and premium photos but you can filter by license to get just the CC0 images. The best part about Everypixel is the level of control you have while searching. You can simultaneously filter for a keyword, a color, and an orientation (horizontal/vertical) depending on what you need.
This interface can be intimidating at first but it’s one of the best on the web. If you learn how to search with Everypixel you’ll find a whole lot of amazing photos out there.
Tech blogs and startups thrive on great photography. That’s why Startup Stock Photos has to be in this list.
It’s a fairly new website but the quality is exquisite. I haven’t seen these photos anywhere else so they must be uniquely featured here with the goal of helping writers & startup founders add quality images to their site.
You can read a bit more about the site in this post written by one of the creators.
One nice feature here is the authorship box in the sidebar. You can browse photos based on the photographer which makes it easy to find related pics. If you find one photo that you really like then check the photographer’s profile—they might have a bunch more you can download!
Food photography is a huge subject for bloggers. In fact most food bloggers agree that the photography makes or breaks great content.
With FoodieFactor you have access to thousands of quality food photos across various subjects. Breakfasts, desserts, shakes and steaks all have a home on this site. And they’re all under CC0 license so you can download, edit, and reuse them on any projects. Awesome!
The selection is a bit limited on Picjumbo but I’ve found some really cool and unique photos on this site. It’s all free and the site originally launched in 2013 back when Unsplash was just hitting the web.
Their selection is mixed between their free public photos and their optional premium photos. But you can find so many awesome free photos in their collection that there’s really little reason to pay for the premium.
Definitely a nice site to keep saved as just one more resource to check out.
These are my favorite hero image resources but there are many others, like Gratisography, Picography and ISO Republic, that you might like to try. CC0 images are so commonplace that it’s tough to even keep up with all the photos!
But if you keep some of these sites bookmarked you’ll have access to the vast majority of new images right at your fingertips.