25 Free Stock Image Sites for Your Shopify Store
You’ve heard the phrase that “a picture paints a thousand words”?
That really is the case with most Shopify stores, where eye-catching images can help to showcase and sell your products, services and ideas.
Product images usually require a professional photographer and customized shots but most stores also need a range of other images to illustrate blog posts and information pages to help break up text and make pages generally more digestible.
These can be tricky to find with copyright to consider and restrictions often placed on what you can and can’t use.
For these situations, it helps to have a collection of stock images to sort through and select what works for your site. Unfortunately, some of these can be unoriginal, over-used or even downright cringe-worthy – but high-quality sites with unique and high-resolution images are increasingly available.
Having a few of the best stock image sites to choose from can help you find the right image. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a shortlist of the top 25 image sites for you to check…
Why use stock images?
There is no substitute for descriptive and persuasive text in your Shopify store but if you can say it in a picture, it will probably be more user-friendly.
Text is needed where you need to inform readers about a particular topic, give a description, or persuade users to buy. It is also needed for SEO and search rankings.
But most people are lazy. If a customer can scan a picture rather than a block of text, they will do it. Well-chosen images help you do that can also aid SEO if optimized correctly.
The problem for content creators is where to find appropriate, eye-catching images to download and use without it breaking the bank—or the law.
Startup ecommerce stores and stores looking to get established may already have spent money on product photography and are understandably reluctant to spend more on images for blog posts and other content.
Many images you see online are copyright protected and you can’t simply copy and paste from another site into yours without fear of breaking copyright law and having to pay reparations to the image owner.
The best policy is to assume that an image is copyrighted unless you know for certain otherwise.
What can happen if you use images illegally?
Copyright infringement law says that images belong to those who captured them. So, copying and using an image from a personal Instagram page without proper authorization from the owner is considered theft of intellectual property.
This can lead to potential lawsuits and thousands of dollars in fines. So, obviously, you want to avoid using copyrighted images in your store that can get you into trouble.
Shopify says this about it:
“Store owners need to protect their intellectual property, and make sure that they don’t infringe on someone else’s intellectual property.”
That’s where stock photography comes in. Images are taken by professional or amateur photographers and uploaded to stock image libraries. You have probably heard of the likes of Flickr, Shutterstock, iStock and so on.
Many of these sites traditionally charge for downloading images and the photographer makes revenue from each download.
More commonly now, however, stock image sites offer free sections where users can download and use images for free with the photographer’s permission.
Free use of images
Images can be made available for free use and without incurring copyright infringement under the following policies:
- Creative Commons (CCO): CCO image licenses allow images to be used freely by the public.
- Royalty-free: images can be used freely without further payment after an initial purchase.
- Fair-use policy: copyrighted images can be used in certain circumstances (for instance. in reviews, news reports, etc.)
- Public domain: images are made available for public use (e.g., photos taken by NASA).
You will find these policies in place on many stock image sites, where you can download and use stock images for free or without it costing much.
On many of these sites, you can freely download and use original, high-quality, high-resolution images simply by providing the owner of the image with credit. Videos and vector art are also available on many sites.
Some image sites are specific to a particular type of image subject (food, nature, etc.) but the following 25 are suitable for just about any store owner hunting for free stock photos.
Over 2.5 million high-quality stock images, videos and music are available – many of them for free.
All photos and videos are free to use. Attribution is not required but crediting the photographer or the site is appreciated.
This is a good one for downloading high-quality, professional, and free vector art, stock photos and stock videos.
This search engine provided by WordPress allows you to search only for images and videos that are protected under Creative Commons licensing.
This one is a really useful tool from Google – an advanced image search engine that allows you to search only for images that can be used legally for free.
Images are arranged in albums, with conditions of use for each image displayed clearly—many can be downloaded and used freely.
This one is an image search engine with over a million high-quality stock photos available across multiple free and paid stock photo sites.
You can browse through the Creative Commons area of Flickr, which is one of the most popular sites and features images under eight different types of free-to-use licenses.
Provides free high-resolution photos divided into various categories for personal and commercial use—with no attribution required.
An interesting site with a very gaudy appearance but offering a broad range of royalty-free HD stock photos and images.
A smaller collection of high-quality images mainly based around nature photography.
This one includes thousands of free high-resolution stock Creative Commons images and videos for download.
A collection of free, unique and high-resolution thematic photos from a single photographer. They are free for commercial use but you will need to suffer ads.
This one includes thousands of pics for download without payment and available for commercial use.
A site that specializes in wallpapers but which may be worth a look if you’re looking for unique artwork for your site.
One of the largest sites on the net to offer freely-usable images uploaded by photographers from around the world.
This is another image search engine that indexes free photos from the top stock sites available on a Creative Commons license.
Very high-resolution images are available for free—not the world’s largest collection but you might find something different here.
A collection of high-resolution pictures that are either Creative Common license or free to use with attribution to the photographer.
Free high-resolution CC0 licensed images that are available for personal or commercial use.
This offers a large collection of free stock photos, backgrounds and high-resolution images for personal and commercial use.
Picography is another one that offers a collection of high-resolution, royalty-free, stock images to use however you like.
This one “does what it says on the tin” – an archive of pics that are free to use for the general public.
Raumrot is a search engine covering 49 of the best websites for free stock photos – saving you from having to do the search work for that image you need.
An easily searchable and extensive collection of free stock photos.
Royalty Free Images for Shopify
It used to be so difficult to find free images to use (legally) in your content. Not anymore.
You should never again need to worry about using a copyrighted image or finding an appropriate free image for a blog post.
The stock image sites outlined above offer almost endless image opportunities with copyright-free usage so that you can rest easy that you are not breaking any rules when you publish your next page or post.