3 places to find non-cheesy stock photos

best free stock photo websites

There’s a fiery passion burning inside my heart, and it stems from my limitless hatred for garishly fake stock photography. Mostly, I despise stock photos of people, because they look terrible, and it’s distractingly obvious they’re staged. I cringe whenever I see a man in a business suit circling the word “Streamline,” or two characterless professionals emulating an anodyne smile while impassively shaking hands.

How can these robots and/or people possibly appear so artificial? Are they politicians or something? Who would ever be able to relate to or establish an emotional connection with these empty, soulless vessels? Not to mention, stock photos are usually cheesy and boring, and you should probably use better photos on your website.

Nah, dogg. I’m cool with cheesy stock photos.

But are you really? Because even if you’re not necessarily worried about your website looking cheesy — and there are instances where cheesiness isn’t a big issue — stock photos can still make your marketing firm/medical practice/black market Pokemon trade look inauthentic and “scammy.” Have you ever stumbled upon a website for a business and thought “oh, is this this a real company?” I know I have — especially while searching for jobs. When a company’s “about us” page doesn’t feature real pictures of real employees, it raises a large, obnoxious red flag. Many times, it isn’t a real company, and the cheesy stock photos give it away.

But you don’t have to shell out the big bucks to find aesthetically pleasing stock photos. In fact, you don’t even have to shell out the small bucks. Here are three of my personal favorite free stock photo services that can help your website attain that “non-cheesy” look you desperately desire:

Death to the stock photo

But really, that’s the actual name of the website. DeathToTheStockPhoto aims to curb a “less than awesome” industry trend of bloggers, brands, and creatives using painfully boring stock photos that don’t complement their look and feel. Photographers Allie Lehman and David Sherry realized that much of their work was sitting in a dropbox collecting digital dust. Eventually they decided to share their imagery with the world for free. Their photos are artistic and visually stunning, but they’re created with the end user in mind, meaning each photoset has a practical use for businesses and freelancers.

DTTSP sends free photos to your inbox at the beginning of every month. The pictures also come with context to tell you the story behind each of the photos they capture. There’s also a paid premium membership, which grants the member more photos, unlimited downloads, and “major love and gratitude” from the DTTSP team. Plus, a portion of their profits goes to funding creative projects around the world, which is neat.

Life of Pix

Life of Pix offers free high resolution images with no copyright restrictions. Use these for business or pleasure. Or anything, really. Go nuts. New pictures are added every week, and are donated to the public domain. The site is operated by Leeroy Advertising Agency of Montreal, Quebec.

This one’s got some pretty awesome landscapes as well as adorable animals, which are really the only two things I need, personally. A lack of search functionality within the site might be a dealbreaker for some. Nonetheless, I appreciate the simplicity of Life of Pix. Browse until you see a picture you like, then click. That’s it. You’re done. Unless you want to click more, of course. The images are categorized into galleries, so Life of Pix is a great place to look when you need inspiration.


Unsplash is a lot like Life of Pix, but with a simple search bar and way more cat pictures. I realize that I’m making Unsplash sound objectively better than any other free stock photo service, but… I dunno maybe it is.

Photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero. Therefore, you can post, alter, and copy the images for just about any purpose for free. No permission requests or credit attributions necessary.

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