Stock Image Sites

Feb 28, 2011

All ~ In your opinion, what are the best sites for stock images? I prefer free, but would also like a list of paying sites, too. I work in the K-12 environment (online) so anything that is cheap would be great because I do not have a budget for buying graphics and images. Thanks for your feedback!

49 Replies
Erin Librarian

This might be a completely redundant reply, but I must say, I am *loving* stockxchng.  Several contributors have created backgrounds that vary based upon a particular theme - they seem to be made for e-learning and are incredibly flexible.  I've also discovered designmoo (free PSDs, vectors, illustrations, textures, etc.) and PSDtuts+.  For someone with no artistic abilities, these sites have been golden.

Matt Lobel

/glaring bias on

My organization just launched a new training media site called  It combines the volume of images/vectors as you would find on iStock or BigStock (we have over 10 million) with special sets of media that are geared specifically towards elearning developers.  I can truly say there are no other sites out there like this.  Hope it becomes a trusted resource for many of you!  

/glaring bias off

If anyone takes a look and can think of some improvements we can make, please let me know directly.  We are not a huge shop like iStock that will take days to respond to feedback.  We implement great ideas quickly!

Andrew Scivally

Just wanted to introduce ourselves to this discussion thread...

We've been running for about 2 years now. Our goal is to provide eLearning Templates that help you create awesome courses. Our focus is on the "do-it-yourself" design teams.

We have 100+ people image sets with pre-cutout backgrounds, scenario images, PowerPoint templates, flash games, Articulate player skins, and more. Hope you like it.

Rebecca Fleisch Cordeiro

Thanks to all for the suggestions. I'm still feeling perplexed at some of these sites about HOW to make an attribution if I can't find the author. For example, at the Wikipedia Commons site, I find this a lot:

"Creative Commons attribution     This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.    
    You are free:
        to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work
        to remix – to adapt the work

    Under the following conditions:
        attribution – You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).

But 9 times out of 10 I don't see any way to contact the licensor and they've not indicated how they want it attributed. How do y'all handle this?

Lesley Cashman-Peck

I'd like to add to this list. The images are completely free - just be sure to follow the terms of use and license agreement. Check out their FAQs for more info (

I've been thoroughly amazed by the image quality and size so I can make adjustments without compromising the images.  Enjoy!

John Nixdorf 

Already mentioned, but for what you pay for the annual subscription, it offers a lot. Management and art director types have a knee-jerk reaction against clipart, but if I need (e.g.) and hourglass, or notebook, or truck, and I can download it in a minute, I'm not going to take an hour drawing it from scratch.

Randy Borum

Hi Kendra

Looks like a problem with the blog site.  Sorry about that.

But I am listing below a couple of updated links to "Lists of Sites".  Some of the annotations are from Tara Calashain's "Research Buzz.":

Search Engine Journal: 41 Places to Find Free Images Online That You Will Actually Want to Use. "Are you tired of the same stock photos? Fortunately, free photo websites have been popping up, giving you many options to find that perfect image. Even better news: you don’t have to spend hours searching the web yourself to find these websites. I have compiled a large list of free online image sources that have photos you will actually want to use." Decent annotation for such a long list.

G2 Crowd: 24 Stellar Sites for Free Stock Photos in 2019. "Stock photos are more than just well-dressed, clean-cut professionals 'candidly' laughing by the water cooler. Many stock photos are attention-grabbing, well-composed, and, ultimately, may be just what you need to spice up your social media presence or marketing collateral. That’s why we’ve developed the ultimate list of websites that offer free stock photos. When you need to spice up your marketing materials on a budget, explore the following websites and watch your visuals reap the benefits."

Lifehacker: Diversify Your Stock Photos With Broadly's Gender Spectrum Collection. "Stock photos tend to lag behind the culture. They fill business photos with just men, or under-represent minorities, or only show people filling outdated cultural roles. It’s an issue we run into a lot at Lifehacker, where we have to illustrate upwards of 15 posts every day on a limited photo budget, and want to represent the full range of our audience. So we’re excited about the many free photo libraries popping up that include diverse options or emphasize under-represented groups."


Where to Find More Diverse Stock Photos

I do believe this is the first thing I've found via MeWe (thanks, Sam R.!) PetaPixel: This Web App Lets You Build Your Own Stock Photos. "Here’s an unusual way to obtain the simple stock photo you need: Photo Creator is a web app that lets you build your own realistic stock photos. The site features thousands of models, objects, and backgrounds that you can combine into your own creations."

Free for Commercial Use: Another Load of Free Stock Photos

David Price

Not sure if anyone has posted these yet but these are go to sites for me quite often: (some of the images on here are linked from

For icons I tend to go to (they do say you need mention the publisher but their subscription is reasonably cheap to get ones you don't have to attribute to someone) is also good for icons.  They have a good selection of free ones but you can actually get the Pro ones for free off Github.  They are only v5 whereas I think they are currently on v5.7 which you have to pay for but it still contains loads of icons.

Richard Anning

The list @David provided would be enough to last a lifetime but here are my favs. - free high-quality photos. Not sure how it makes money might be a charitable/ PR thing - good for icons. They operate on a freemium model but you can get good basic icons here rather than trawl through Google Images. 


Tania Thomas

Hi does anyone know where I can get articulate cutout characters or animations (or similar) of coal miners? Unfortunately general construction or industrial based characters do not resonate with my learners. Any help would be appreciated immensely. Otherwise if not available has anyone gone about getting cutouts or animations of characters for articulate created? What’s the process? Does anyone offer such services? I’m located in Wollongong Australia and I am pretty desperate as I am working on several projects where the standard articulate characters and goanimate characters do not appeal to the learners :( thank you !

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