Last updated: July 2, 2019
Shutterstock is a famous name in the photography industry. More specifically, it is one of the most well-known stock photo websites. Many digital agencies rely on Shutterstock to fulfill their imagery needs. The common reason is because photos that are sold on Shutterstock are not too expensive.
Shutterstock itself is a subscription-based stock photo website (despite there is also “On Demand” option). The cheapest subscription plan allows you to download 10 photos per month for $49. Or, if calculated individually, each photo is priced about $4.9. Much cheaper than, for instance, Getty Images.
All photos (and other type of images) on Shutterstock are contributed by photographers and graphic designers. They will get some percent of the sale price for each content downloaded in return. In other words, Shutterstock is a community-driven platform.
Shutterstock is certainly not the only stock photo website in the market. But, is there a free alternative to it?. Of course. There are some free stock photo websites you can rely on in case you want to save your budget. Here is the list.
Pixabay is a free stock photo website I recommend the most. Here, you can download as many photos as you want without having to spend any cent, at all. There is an option to donate to photographers (and designers) via PayPal, but it is not required. At the time of writing, there have been about 1.1 million images available on Pixabay. What about the usage?
All contents available on Pixabay are released under the CC0 license whereby you are allowed to use them for any purpose, including commercial. So, you are not infringing copyright if you want to use photos you downloaded from Pixabay for your business imagery needs. Photos on Pixabay are divided into several categories and there is a handy search box to makes it easy for you to find the images you need. Just for your information, I also regularly contributing photos to Pixabay 🙂
Unsplash is a growing photography website. Each week, there are thousands of new photographs uploaded by creative photographers from around the the world (including me, sometimes). All photos submitted to Unsplash previously are also licensed under the CC0 license, but recently Unsplash announced its own license. The point remains the same. You are allowed to use all photos available on Unsplash for free for any purpose, including commercial. Despite you can use all photos from Unsplash without having to credit the photographers, but Unsplash highly recommend you to appreciate the photographers by crediting them. There is also a search box you can take advantage of to find the photos you need.
Pexels has similarities to Pixabay in some ways. First, it has abundant photo collections you can use for free. Second, you can also appreciate a certain photographer by donating via PayPal if you find that his/her photos are useful and good enough. All photos available on Pexels are also licensed under the CC0 license, which mean you are allowed to use them for free for any purpose. You can even make some modifications if needed. Pexels also features a handy search box to ease your task in exploring photos.
4. Life of Pix
Life of Pix is a nice place if you need free photos in a high resolution. Photos that are uploaded to Life of Pix are not compressed. Instead, they are provided just like the original file. That’s why most photos on this website have larger file sizes than three websites above. Life of Pix also allows you to use all of its photos for any purpose, including commercial. All photos uploaded to this website are donated to the public domain. Life of Pix has made it easy if you want to search for photos based on photographer. Each week, this site elects a photographer to become this week’s photographer.
Skitterphoto is a stock photo website created by two Netherlands photographers Rudy and Peter. They created this project in 2014. Since then, there have been many photographers joined the project. The result is, as you can see on its site, thousands of free quality photos are now available on Skitterphoto. The photos on Skitterphoto are well organized in several categories for easier navigation. Same as all websites above, Skitterphoto also features a handy search box.
As a community-driven platform, Skitterphoto also can also be a great free alternative to Shutterstock. All photos on Skitterphoto are public domain, released under the CC0 license. You can use them as you want.
Magdeleine is also a great stock photo website you can rely to fulfill your imagery needs. It is also a nice free alternative to Shutterstock and other paid stock photo websites. Photos on Magdeleine are also licensed under the Creative Commons license, but not all of them are released under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0). Some photos require you to credit the photographers by mentioning them (CC BY-SA). You can visit here for more details about Creative Commons license.
Last but not least. Any time you need a free alternative to Shutterstock, you can also consider NegativeSpace. This is also a community-driven free stock photo website, meaning that photos available on this site are not come from a single photographer so the photo collections are more vary. All photos are also released under the CC0 license, enabling you to use them for free for any purpose without worrying about copyright abuse. Photos on NegativeSpace are also well arranged in with a good navigation.