We all know the famous phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words”, it’s simply because our brain can interpret images much faster than text. Images can represent a product, service or brand instantly. Additionally, images add depth and context to a description or story and provide a much more immersive experience than writing alone.
A few years ago, an American company Jumpshot carried out a survey on the origin of traffic on websites in the USA. Google leads, followed by Google Image (26.79%). This means that Internet users also search via Google for images and that you should therefore not ignore the visuals of your website.
In this guide, I will mainly share with you resources that I personally use for my web projects. Of course we will talk about Freepik and Pixabay but you will also have my personal list to find 100% free, royalty-free (CC0 license) and really super stylish visuals.
- The best free image banks
- 1. Unsplash: one of the most artistic
- 2. Negative Space: new images every week
- 3. Gratisography: the champions of eccentricity
- 4. Kaboompics: professional shots by a Polish designer
- 5. Start-up Stock Photos
- 6. Pikwizard: simple but effective
- 7. Stockvault: artistic images
- 8. Pexels: the simplest license
- 9. Picjumbo: business oriented
- 10.PikWizard: a large inventory
- 11. Rawpixel: the most vintage
- 12. Reshot: images, illustration icons (simple and efficient)
- 13. Bonus advice for your WordPress sites built with Divi
- The 3 best sites to find free icons
- 1. Flaticon: the benchmark
- 2. Iconfinder: the Google of icons
- 3. UXwing: straight to the point and no attribution required
- An alternative to image banks: Canva Premium
The best free image banks
1. Unsplash : one of the most artistic
Unsplash is an image bank of HD photos that are royalty-free and 100% free. There are around 125,000 photographers contributing to the database and you can easily sort photos by theme if you don’t have the inspiration with simple keywords.
If you have an account with them, then you can create your own collections and folders, which can be useful for easily finding your favorite visuals by putting them aside.
Another advantage of Unsplash that I find very useful: its free API! You can connect to the Unsplash library directly from your WordPress dashboard. Time saving guaranteed! If you are not very comfortable with APIs then simply download the free Unsplash plugin which will automatically add content to the WordPress library:
2. Negative Space : new images every week
Negative Space offers new free photos every week. All of her photos are shared without copyright restriction , which means you are free to use them however you see fit, including for professional use.
You can search by categories but not by color or size however. All photos are available in HD and are copyrighted “ Creative Commons CC0 license ” which means they are 100% royalty free.
The photos themselves are not the best in my opinion if you have a travel blog for example, however photos are acceptable for backgrounds or more abstract photos.
3. Gratisography : the champions of eccentricity
Their promise is to provide quirky and unique photos for your web projects. With the neon pink, it seems that the promise is rather kept Let’s see this, but I believe that the bet is successful:
You can use Gratisography images as you see fit for both personal and commercial projects. You can adapt and modify the images (perfect if you are a designer and want to rework the visual a bit). The positive points are that you can include them in your advertising campaigns, your logo, your banners and all of your “print” communication: business card, magazines, posters etc.
The only thing you can’t do is resell the image or redistribute it on other photo sites.
4. Kaboompics : professional shots by a Polish designer
Karolina Grabowska is an artist and web professional who provides more than 80,000 photos. Photos are taken by the photographer using a Canon 6d Full Frame with the following lenses: Sigma 35mm f / 1.4, Sigma 85mm f / 1.4, Canon 50mm f / 1.8, Helios 44-2 58mm f / 2.0. Photos are edited in Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop.
Kaboompics is one of the world’s most popular free image sources for lifestyle and home design bloggers. The photos are very stylish and its promise is to provide you with free, royalty-free photos
I really like two features: “color palette” and “photoshoots”.
Color palettes: at Kaboompics, you will find a function that displays the color palette present in each photo.
Photoshoots: Instead of having a single keyword-based photo, you’ll have access to a whole gallery of photos taken from many different angles. Here is an example of a photoshoot with the keyword “flower in the vase”:
The license is simple and efficient: all photos on Kaboompics can be used free of charge for commercial and non-commercial purposes. You don’t even have to credit Kaboompics for using the photos. You can also edit the photos, improve them and reuse them in your visual communication media such as social networks, creating HTML / PSD templates, decorating your articles, PowerPoint presentations or even printing them on t-shirts!
Startup Stock Photos are inspiring free photos of offices, co-working space, brainstorming, conf-call, in short all the very start-up jargon you know. On the other hand, there is no search field so it is not very practical to get straight to the point or filter the results.
The copyright is free again and you do not need to credit the author for using the visuals.
6. Pikwizard : simple but effective
For me, it’s pure efficiency. Pik Wizard has quite a large collection of photos and videos, and the visuals presented are bright and vibrant… In short, nothing to do with the kind of images that come to mind when we hear the term “photos”. of stock”.
7. Stockvault : artistic images
Since 2004, Stockvault.net has offered its visitors free stock photos, “ready-to-use” web layouts and logos with the aim of helping those who cannot afford to pay for high-quality, copyright-free visuals. This allows photographers, designers and students to share their photographs, graphics and vector files for free.
There is a premium version with even more choices of photos but also videos. The paid content comes from the giant shutterstock.
8. Pexels : the simplest license
Pexels is defined as an image bank containing free photos, to be used anywhere and for commercial use (no attribution is necessary). The photos are really beautiful, and worthy of a great photographer! I highly recommend this image bank for areas such as tourism because all the buildings and points of interest are represented there.
You can edit Pexels photos and videos as you like. Moreover, if you want to use a visual to resell it as a poster for example, be sure to modify it because the license does not allow you to resell it without modifying them first.
9. Picjumbo : business oriented
You will find around 200 free, royalty-free images for personal and commercial use. The main themes are: business, entrepreneurship, freelancing, SMEs, teleworking, crypto-currencies etc.
The premium version starts at $ 45 per month and gives you access to HD and exclusive photos (which will not be published on the free version of the site.) A large inventory
The images are royalty free and free and the most popular section is “business / finance”. Their images are truly remarkable!
What is interesting is also their ultra-simplified design software integrated into the image bank which is available for free and in a premium version:
You can edit your designs and videos in no time. The functionalities are quite basic but sufficient if you do not have large means to use the Adobe suite for example.
11. Rawpixel : the most vintage
For me, it is by far the most original! They have a good selection of unique content including more paintings, sketches, and very vintage and artistic designs. I would imagine this kind of images for a little design sites and for original brands.
There is a very useful section called the “ creative board ” which allows you to filter by category images that are related to the same theme. Really great for web designers who want to stay in the same colors or in the same area to create a site.
12. Reshot : images, illustration icons (simple and efficient)
Heaven for photos, illustrations and icons. If you are looking for these kinds of illustrations which are trending right now then you are going to love Reshot! Materials licensed under Reshot Free can be used in your commercial and non-commercial projects, free of charge.
13. Bonus advice for your WordPress sites built with Divi
Elegant Themes has released free Divi layout packs since September 2017, and as an added bonus for the Divi community they have also offered a free download of all the images present in their package !
These images are royalty free and available to be used as desired on personal and commercial projects. Unlike many other images you’ll find online, these are unrestricted and categorized by topic, based on your industry.
Let’s see now, my top 3 of the best sites to find free and royalty-free icons this time around.
The 3 best sites to find free icons
1. Flaticon : the benchmark
The most popular site to find icons and stickers in almost all categories: social networks, mobile, customer reviews, finance, art etc.
It is the largest database of free icons, available in PNG, SVG, EPS, PSD, and BASE64 formats.
The very important thing to know about the license for a free user is that you should always mention the graphic designer. So the rights are free to use, provided the author is mentioned.
Actually, there are three user levels and each level allows you to upload a certain number of files.
- The simple visitor, who does not have an account, is limited to 10 icons per day.
- The member, who has a free account, can download 3 icon collections and up to 100 icons per day.
- The premium user who will pay for a subscription will be able to download an unlimited number of collections. The number of icons is limited to 2000 per day, which is still reasonable.
2. Iconfinder : the Google of icons
Enter a search term and enjoy thousands of high quality graphics. There are easy to use filters like: free or paid, icon style and license type.
When you’ve found the right one, you can download it in formats that work with most design tools (PSD, SVG etc.)
There are premium icons (marked with ????). The general rule is that you can use these icons in a business context and you are not required to assign them. There is also a “no link back” filter so that you can display icons that do not require an author’s mention.
All icons without the crown symbol are free. They are covered by different licenses, so you should check the specific terms when you download one.
3. UXwing : straight to the point and no attribution required
Why make it complicated when you can make it so simple? There is less choice than the other two, but the results get straight to the point. It’s a real time saver that I use for all types of projects. The categories are really great: arrows, animals, music, architecture, e-commerce, clothing, business, social networks… in short, everything is there.
All icons on UXWing can be downloaded for free and used for personal or commercial projects. Designer attribution and credit are NOT required. There is no limit to the number of times you can download the files. Finally, you can modify the resources according to your needs.
Icons are available in PNG and SVG formats by professional designers. The PNG format is well compressed with no loss of quality, and the SVG is well optimized with removing unnecessary data to save bandwidth.
Finally, a final plus point is the SVG icon editor, to create the icons of your choice or customize your existing icons by simply importing your files.
An alternative to image banks: Canva Premium
Conceptualizing and designing can be a very expensive process. If you’re looking for something new to try out, I recommend that you take the time to explore Canva, which works well with all types of design, whether it’s personal projects or professional projects.
Canva is freemium software that can (almost) turn you into a designer! Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit and of course NOTHING can replace the expertise and talent of a designer. But let’s say you’ve just started your little Yoga studio. You are going to need a visual identity, a business card, a logo, a price list, templates for your social networks and especially quality images or icons.
If you choose the Pro version, you will have 75 million photos, videos and audio tracks available. The media are truly incredible, worthy of the biggest image and icon banks, for less than 10 € per month! Drag-and-drop is super intuitive for design beginners.
You can publish or print directly through Canva, whether it’s uploading a video directly to YouTube or having a photo album delivered to your home.There are thousands of templates for any project, including presentations, social media videos, posters, flyers, invitations etc.
I recommend the pro version because the models are really very well done! In addition, you will have access to the library of free stock images, videos, animations, music and fonts included in Canva (with the pro version, you can add your own font.)
I gave you a summary of the pricing, below:
Hope this personal list can inspire you and help you find the visuals you need. We must therefore distinguish between free images, royalty-free images and paid images. In most cases, for premium banks you will have to pay a one-time fee to get the rights to use the image (but then you can use it as many times as you want).
As a bonus, I have given you a few sites that offer free resources, free of rights and without obligation to mention the photographer or the designer. Convenient to get started in your project and save a few euros.
Do not hesitate to share your resources in comments to enrich this article.