If you spend as much time creating social media posts and marketing emails as I do, you may struggle sometimes to find just the right image to use or the perfect font. And while places like Shutter Stock and iStockPhoto and 123RF can be good resources for certain projects, buying images regularly isn’t cheap, and it’s simply not feasible for most small businesses.
On the other hand, Googling for images isn’t a great idea, either, because most of the time you have no guarantee that it’s free to use—and the last thing you want is to receive a notice of copyright infringement.
So what to do? Well, it turns out there are some great places online where you can download completely free and reusable images, free fonts, and even graphics and templates. Here’s a list of my top 12!
Free Use Stock Photos
Let’s start with stock photos. All of these sites offer free images for both personal and commercial use under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license—meaning you can use them with no attribution (though it is, of course, always appreciated). It’s also perfectly okay to modify them, so if you like to do quote posts, like I do on the Canopy Instagram, you can add text to your heart’s content. These are my favorite places to look for images:
Unsplash: I only just discovered Unsplash recently, and it was so incredible and so easy to find an image that worked for my purposes that I was annoyed I hadn’t heard about it sooner!
They host a collection of over 200,000 high-resolution images, with more being added every day, and they’re organized into categories for easier searching. When you perform a keyword search, it will display images which match, as well as “collections” curated by their users.
Pexels holds around 30,000 photos and adds an estimated 3,000 more per month. If you search for something in particular that they don’t have, they’ll show you sponsored results from Shutter Stock. You can always choose to browse by several different categories, like most popular and by color.
One nifty thing I haven’t seen much of elsewhere: they also offer free video clips, which are available to use under the same terms as their photos. Image more places will be offering this in the future as video engagement continues to rise.
Pixabay: With over 1 million photos, vectors, illustrations, and videos, Pixabay is one of the largest collections I’ve found. You can search within those categories by keyword and even refine your results depending on color, orientation, and dimensions, as you can see in the screenshot below. My searches tend towards the tropical: rainforests and waterfalls and such.
Gratisography: All the photos here were taken by a single photographer, Ryan McGuire, who’s chosen to make his images available for public use. They’re a little quirkier in nature (there’s a dedicated category for “whimsical”), but sometimes that’s just what you’re looking for!
Stockvault.net is a community of over 90,000 designers and photographers sharing their work every day. In addition to a wide variety of photos, they also offer free textures—particularly useful for creating more interesting backgrounds.
KaboomPics: The collective work of another individual photographer, KaboomPics is an impressive library of quality images. It currently numbers over 5,000—which is quite a lot for one person to have personally photographed and made available! The search feature here, similar to Pixabay, is refinable by orientation and color, and you can also choose to see individual photos or all the photos from that shoot.
NegativeSpace is a relatively small collection by comparison, but their images are high quality and range in category from architecture to typography. They also have specific tech categories for those specifically looking for, say, a photo of an iPhone or Macbook.
FreePik bills themselves as “Graphic Resources for Everyone,” and they’re not kidding. Not only do they offer photos but also vector graphics and illustrations, Photoshop files, and icons. It’s a great place to look for all manner of graphics for flyers, banners, and presentations.
Free Fonts and Creative Assets
I learned about one of these places from a fellow designer friend and found I could get a lot of useful things at a greatly discounted price. I personally subscribe to each of these, so that I get emails each week of what their current freebies and specials are. Each is a good resource for discounted or bundled graphics and fonts, as well as offering a good number of free items. So whether you’re willing to spend a bit or not, they’re worth taking a look!
Creative Market offers a new set of six freebies per week. No commitment, aside from setting up a free account. They also have a great collection of photos which seem reasonably priced, even for an extended license; plus tons of graphics, templates, and fonts. But remember: You can follow that link every Monday to see six new free assets. They won’t always be something you need—but chances are you’ll find something useful eventually!
MyDesignDeals: This is the first “designer deals” website I heard about, and I kept an eye on it for a while before I finally dove in and bought something. I’ve definitely not regretted it. When you sign up for your free account, you get access to what they call the Designer Toolbox—a collection of freebies ranging from textures to templates to fonts. It currently numbers 78, so the odds are in your favor for finding something in it you can use.
In addition, they offer new bundles every week or so with several going on at once. At the moment, they’re advertising 21 Beautiful Fonts and the Summer Specials Design Kit, among others.
MyFonts has a great collection of free fonts, easily found by using the “free” tag, and they also do bundles and specials. Another great feature is their WhatTheFont tool—upload an image of a snippet of text, and it can tell you what font it is or at least what fonts are the most similar.
Font Bundles: Last, but certainly not least, here you can find a collection of free fonts and well-priced font bundles. In addition, their sister site Design Bundles offers the same in creative assets: templates, graphics, photos, and as always, the free collection.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to get new fonts and graphics for your creative endeavors without breaking the bank. I hope you’ll find these useful, and if there are any sites I didn’t list which you particularly like, be sure to let me know! The comments are always open.
And don’t forget to check out our Pinterest account!
Catherine has a degree in English literature and a passion for all things marketing. As Digital Specialist, her focus is on web design, search engine optimization, social media, online presence management, and project coordination.