We've all heard the mantra, "Don't settle for anything less than you deserve."
Yet for some strange reason, many people continue to push out cheap (and usually cheesy) stock photography to serve as a representation of their brand.
But the truth is, high-quality stock photos don't have to come hand-in-hand with a hassle or high price tag. To prove it, we've compiled a list of 17 awesome resources for free, non-cheesy stock images.
17 of the Best Websites to Download Royalty-Free Stock Images
Negative Space offers up 20 new free stock photos every week. All of its photos are shared without copyright restrictions, meaning that you are free to use them however you please.
From architecture to technology, Negative Space's continuously growing collection of images is one you'll find yourself tapping into again and again.
When founders and photographers, Allie and David, noticed a how challenging it was for businesses, bloggers, and creatives to find free high-quality images that fit their "vibe and tribe," they stepped in.
As a result, Death to the Stock Photo was born.
Simply submit your email and enjoy a new batch of photos delivered to your inbox every month.
Need high quality images for your next web design or blog post?
Look no further than picjumbo.
With new photos added daily, there is a wide selection of high-quality images to fit a variety of different topics.
The photographer, Vicktor, even offers a cheap stock photos membership ($7.50/month), that includes a premium pack of photos sent straight to your inbox every month. The packs include unpublished and upcoming images, as well as complete collections.
Karolina, a web designer from Poland, is the creative eye behind this awesome resource for high-quality photos. From fashion to food to landscapes, her images cover a variety of different scenarios. And users have the freedom to use them for anything they'd like -- commercial or not.
While there are no formal attribution requirements, Karolina does ask that you include photo credit with a link back to the site when possible. This request will help her grow the website, and in turn, provide even more awesome photos for everyone to use.
Not only are the photos on Fancy Crave free of copyright restrictions, but they're also pretty remarkable. (Can't you practically taste those green grapes?)
All the photographer asks is that you never advertise the photographs as your own, and provide attribution when and if you can.
With two new photo uploaded daily to keep things feeling fresh, this a bookmark-worthy resources for great photos if we've ever seen one.
Unsplash serves up 10 new "do whatever you want" photos every 10 days.
What we love most about this resource is the uniqueness of the photos. With pages upon pages to choose from, you won't run into any cheesy "Smiling Boss Shaking Hands With Male Employee" shots.
Not to mention, every photo published on Unsplash is licensed under Creative Commons Zero, which provides users with the freedom to copy, modify, distribute, and use all of the photos without permissions or attribution.
StockSnap.io proudly claims that it's "not your typical crappy stock photo site."
We concur. In fact, it has won our hearts by dishing out hundreds of high-resolution images each week. (I repeat, hundreds.)
Believe me when I say that its selection is so interesting and versatile that it's almost too easy to "fall down the rabbit hole" and come to fifty-something scrolls later.
What's even better is that all photos are free from copyright restrictions, and no attribution is required. To check out the full license description, click here.
"Take 'em, these things are free. Go. Make something."
With a tagline like this, it's tough not to scoop up what Startup Stock Photos has to offer.
While the name is specific to startups, there are plenty of professional options to use no matter what industry you're operating within. You'll surely have your hands full with these free images.
SplitShire offers a ton of awesome free photos for you to use without restrictions. Powered by Italian photographer Daniel Nanescu, all of the images available on the website are "made with love" -- and it shows.
From stunning portraits to sleek work stations, we've got a feeling you won't have any trouble finding the perfect photo for your next project or blog post.
Brought to you by Leeroy Advertising Agency in Montreal (and its network of talented photographers), Life of Pix is home to some awesome high-resolution photos.
All of the images are donated to the public domain, and are available for personal and commercial use.
As if that wasn't enough, Life of Pix also has a counterpart, Life of Vids. According to its website, Life of Vids serves up free footage videos, clips, and loops, weekly. Like the images, the video content contains no copyright restrictions, and can be easily downloaded on its Vimeo account.
Pexels is committed to adding at least 35 new photos each week. These photos are carefully handpicked from a variety of free image sources to ensure that you're getting only the best of the best.
All of the photos that make the cut are under the Creative Commons Zero license, meaning that they are free for personal and commercial use with no attribution required.
And thanks to its search functionality, turning up the right photo for your next project is made super easy.
With new photos added weekly, Gratisography is another awesome website serving up high-resolution photos covered under the Creative Commons Zero license.
All of the photos are taken by Ryan McGuire, a "whimsically creative visual artist, based in Ithaca, NY."
While these photos are a bit more quirky (we're talking everything from monster feet slippers to Vespas to bananas), they are entirely usable for the right project.
Jay Mantri adds seven new "do anything" photos every Thursday.
As a result, he's built up an impressive gallery of professional, quality images just for you and me ... and everyone else.
If I had to describe Mantri's photos in one word, it'd be "scenic." But don't just take my word for it. Go see for yourself.
ISO's Republic's mission is to "provide high-quality images to be used by designers, developers, bloggers, marketers, and social media teams."
And all it takes it one quick scan of the website to know that it is succeeding in doing just that. (So much so that it's hard to believe the images are free)
For those looking for access to more exclusive free photos, ISO Republic invites you to sign up for its email list and receive photos right to your inbox.
Who can resist a good black and white photo?
This collection of vintage photos comes from the public archive via Flickr Commons. According to the website, the photos are free of any known copyright restrictions.
That said, while it's likely that they are safe to use for things like blog posts and hero images, you'll want to read up on the rights and usage before you use them for any type of commercial project.
You didn't think we'd leave you hanging, did you?
When we noticed there was a shortage of high quality free stock photos available to marketers and creatives, we decided to whip up some of our own.
Check out the following collections to get your fix:
Did we miss any of your favorite resources? Let us know in the comments section below.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in February 2015 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.