The end of horrible stock photography


Regardless of whether you are a journalist, blogger, developer, or designer, most of us run into the same problem at some point: We have no budget to buy a digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR) or to hire a professional photographer to add illustrations to our work. But to draw attention to a newly set up web presence, high quality photography is essential.

However, this is where many give up and continue without any photos because of the persistent notion that free downloadable pictures from the World Wide Web are low quality and rarely aesthetically pleasing. If you know where to search for them you can easily find great quality pictures with inspiring themes.


Death to the Stock Photo:

If you want to get monthly inspiration combined with free photos, you might want to check out Death to the Stock Photo. The word death sounds harsh at first but the term is well chosen, as their pictures are a cut above the generic stock photos we’re used to.

Users can sign up for a mailing list to receive free high quality photos each month. The packs that are being send out include ten pictures, which are connected to a specific theme. Sometimes Death to the Stock Photo also delivers written stories with the pictures to provide inspiration for blog posts or articles.

If ten pictures a month aren’t enough for you and you would like to have full access to their archive of more than 400 photos you can sign up for a premium account for $10  per month. Death to the Stock Photo is using some of this money to fund creative projects of photographers worldwide to create packs of photos that are send out via the mailing list. This way they claim to create “a sustainable business model for pushing art forward.“


ISO Republic:

If you want immediate access to free stock photography, you might want to check out ISO Republic. The website was mainly set up for developers and designers but also for bloggers and journalists, who should be able to find something to spice up their blog posts and articles here.

You can select pictures from different categories such as architecture, nature, people, or texture. Within each category you find a selection of high quality photos ready to be downloaded.

Tom Eversley, a designer and photographer from England, created the website in 2014. This selection of photos is especially useful for people who have a restricted budget for specific projects and who still don’t want to make cuts when it comes to high quality photography.


Unsplash has some of the best high quality pictures you can find in the World Wide Web. All are of course free to use for private or commercial purposes. Unsplash was initially a side project of the founders of the website that tries to connect people in need of high quality work with professionals.

While setting up their website they discovered that the free photo supply online “was either too crappy, too expensive, or both.” Thus, they hired a photographer and published the pictures they didn’t use on Unsplash to help other people with the same problem.

Apart from browsing through their website you can also subscribe to a mailing list and receive ten new photos every ten days.



Next to the Death to the Stock Photo premium offer, this is the only website with a payment option featured in this article. But I wanted to include the website anyway because it can be quite useful for people with a small budget and for photographers who want to draw attention to their work.

Snapwire’s motto seems to be “Stock photos are horrible.” Hence, they want to connect talented photographers with people in need of qualitative photos.

You can sign up as a photo buyer, a photographer, or both. If you are a photo buyer you can send out a request of a specific photo and Snapwire claims that some of their 120,000 photographers will answer the call. You can look through the submissions but users have no obligation to actually buy these pictures.

Interested people can also browse through the work of specific photographers and follow their development. If you like what you see you can start establishing work relationships with them.

The Pattern Library:

Last but not least, The Pattern Library is a fun little website that allows you to scroll through several high quality patterns free to use for your projects. The website was set up by Tim Holman and Claudio Guglieri, who also accept pattern suggestions via email.


Check out this selection of links for more free stock photo websites.

Make sure to read the terms and conditions of each website before using the photos.

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