Pixabay vs Unsplash. Where Should You Share Your Photos?

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Pixabay vs Unsplash. Where Should You Share Your Photos?

There are always free alternatives to paid services. When it comes to image, Pixabay and Unsplash are great free alternatives to microstock photo websites like Shutterstock and iStock. They both are community-driven sites and allow you to download the photos for free for any purpose — including commercial — without needing to give any credit to the authors.

Pixabay and Unsplash are the evidence that photography is not about selling photos, but also sharing photos. Not all good photos have to be commercialized.

For those who are pioneering a photography career, both Pixabay and Unsplash can be a good place to show the world your best shots and tell them that you are a talented photographer. To get more exposure, you can upload the same photos to both Pixabay and Unsplash. But, it’s not a problem as well if you want to upload your photos only to your favorite platform between the two.

The question, which platform you have to choose? Pixabay or Unsplash?

I have contributed some of my photos to both Pixabay and Unsplash. Based on my experiences, contributing photos to Pixabay is more challenging since it applies a tight enough reviewing process. But, there are other aspects you may want to consider, other than that.

Following is the comparison between Pixabay and Unsplash on same aspects, including reviewing process.

Reviewing process

Both Pixabay and Unsplash are applying a reviewing process to ensure the quality of the photos. Only photos with the decent qualities will be accepted.

As I mentioned, Pixabay has a tight enough reviewing process. Nearly equal to paid microstock photo sites like Shutterstock and iStock. One time, I once uploaded about 16 photos and only 2 are accepted. Meanwhile, although also applies a reviewing process, but Unsplash is not as tight as Pixabay. Photos that are rejected by Pixabay not necessarily rejected by Unsplash. In Pixabay, your photos will only be published after passing through the reviewing process. In Unsplash, your photos will immediately be published and will only be returned to you once the Unsplash team found they are not decent enough.

The number of uploads allowed

Becoming a Pixabay contributor requires complex enough steps. Once you created an account, you can upload 5 photos right away and they will be reviewed first. Once accepted, you can continue uploading your photos. A new Pixabay contributor is allowed to upload 5 photos a day. This number will be increasing if you consistently uploading quality photos.

Unsplash, on the other hand, doesn’t apply a tight registration process. You will be an Unsplash contributor right away once created an account and allowed to upload 10 photos a day. This number will also be increasing if you consistently uploading quality photos.

Accepted contents

Pixabay is not exclusively provides free photos. The best way to describe it is “a free alternative to Shutterstock” since it provides nearly all types of contents provided by Shutterstock. From photos, illustrations, vectors and footages. Meanwhile, Unsplash only provides photos.


Be it Pixabay or Unsplash allow users to use their contents for free for any purpose, including commercial. Understanding the applied license is crucial enough before you are uploading your works to them. Thus, you don’t need to make a protest if in the future you see your works used by other parties without asking your permission. Even worse, doesn’t credit you.

If you upload your works to Pixabay, they will be shared as as public domain under the Creative Commons Zero license (CC0). This license allows users to use certain works for free for any purpose without needing to credit the authors.

Previously, Unsplash also adopted the same license (CC0), but it now has its own license. But the rules remain the same. You are allowed to use the photos from Unsplash for free for any purpose without asking a permission from the photographers or provide credit to them.

How your works will be used

Since photos available on Pixabay and Unsplash are free, anyone can use them. If you want to know how your photos are used, try to browse the web and visit some websites or popular blogs. Chance are you will see your photos over there. To be honest, we (bettertechtips.com) also frequently use photos from Pixabay and Unsplash to fulfill our imagery needs. Many designers and social media managers also use the photos from Pixabay and Unsplash.

Both Pixabay and Unsplash also provide an API to allow app developers using the image library of them. Online graphic design tools like Canva also use the Unsplash API to provide free images to its users. There are many chances on how your photos will be used by users.


I will not suggest you to choose a specific platform. But, if you want to gauge the appropriateness of the quality of your photos, Pixabay may be is a better option since your photos will be undergoing a tight reviewing process. Pixabay also provides a donation option to give a chance to users to credit you.

Conversely, Unsplash is the platform you can choose if you just want to give away your photos. The chance your photos will be accepted is bigger compared to Pixabay. Or, you can upload your photos to both of them, just like me 🙂

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