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The 12 Absolute Best Sites with Free and Cheap Stock Photos

Great photography makes a world of difference in how your brand is perceived and how well your marketing efforts will do. Simply nothing adds up to the power of images when it comes to telling a story, delivering a message, and showing people your (or your brand’s) best face. 

Stock photography is a hugely valuable asset for creative professionals and business owners, for it delivers high-quality imagery for all their projects in a whim. Stock photos solve all kinds of creative needs, you can use them on a website, in advertising, on social media, blog posts, and so on. 

Now cost is a factor that stresses many creatives, but, fear not! There is a surplus of sites offering cheap stock photos, and even free stock photos, that are every bit as beautiful, sharp, and professional as their high-end counterparts. 

Ready to discover them? 

12 Best Free & Cheap Stock Photo Sites

Here’s our selection of the ultimate stock photo agencies and free stock photo sites where you can download high quality images cleared for commercial us, for little to no money. 

You’ll find options to get royalty-free images –be it with a standard license or an extended license– both paid and free, as well as some alternatives with free use photos under custom licenses, which are way safer than Creative Commons or Public Domain images.

So web designer, graphic designers, bloggers, social media marketers, business owners: dive in and find the ideal stock site and the perfect image for your next creative project!

#1. Stock Photo Secrets – Super Cheap

Stock Photo Secrets Home
  • Royalty-Free license
  • Subscriptions and on-demand image packs
  • Price range:$0.16 to $7.80

The Stock Photo Secrets Shop was designed with small and medium-sized businesses in mind. It offers over 6 million images with very convenient subscription plans. The most popular is the 99Club, with 200 downloads (up to XXL size) for $99. That’s just $0.49 per image, and you get a whole year to use up your allowance. Cheap stock photography at its best!

It is a perfect match and the best-kept stock photo secret if you have a little budget for photos and want to make the best of it for the longest time possible!.

#2. Shutterstock – Free Trial & Cheap + Bonus Discounts

Shutterstock Image Home
  • Royalty-Free License
  • Subscriptions and on-demand image pack
  • Price range: $0.22 to $9.80

Shutterstock is a household name in affordable stock photography, as they established the industry standard of stock photo subscriptions. They amassed a ginormous library of over 330 million photos. 

They have an awesome Shutterstock free trial that lets you download ten images from their catalog entirely free for one month! And you can grab additional images for free through their weekly freebies. 

After that, you can opt for one of their famous subscriptions, like the monthly plan with 750 downloads for $249, resulting in just $0.33 per photograph. A real bargain only improved by our exclusive Shutterstock Coupon Code with up to 15% off. You’d be a fool not to take this deal!

#3. iStock – Very Cheap + Bonus Discounts

iStock Image Categories
  • Royalty-Free license
  • Subscriptions, single purchase, and on-demand credit pack
  • Price range: $0.22 to $33

iStock (previously iStockphoto) is a renowned stock photo website; it’s the very first stock agency that sold royalty free photos at low prices online. They have millions of photos, both budget-friendly and high-end.

Their site features one free photo and one free illustration every week, a cool way to get professional pictures from a trusted site without paying. 

And for specific needs, they have low-priced plans such as the monthly subscription for 750 images that costs $199, equivalent to $0.26 each cheap photo. Moreover, you can get an even lower price with our exclusive iStock Promo Code that gives you up to 15% off in your purchase!

#4. Adobe Stock – Free Trial & Cheap 

Adobe Stock Home
  • Royalty Free license
  • Subscriptions and credit packs
  • Price range: $0.26 to $9.99

Adobe Stock is a stock image service offered by Adobe –powered by the now gone Fotolia– and fully integrated into its Creative Cloud platform, but their very large, very rich photography library is open to all. 

There is a great Adobe Stock Free Trial that gives you 10 free image downloads to use in one month, ideal to grab a bunch of high-quality stock photos at no charge. 

Then you get to buy images at very low cost, with subscriptions like the one with 750 royalty free images per month for $249,99 (or $0.33 per photo). A very good deal considering the quality and added functionality of the service!

#5. Storyblocks – Cheap & Unlimited

Storyblocks Home
  • Royalty-Free license
  • Subscriptions
  • Price range: The more you download, the lower the cost

Storyblocks is a distinctive stock photo agency, selling stock photos and vector illustrations as part of a subscription model that also includes stock video and stock audio files. 

What is great about the Storyblocks’ All Access subscription plan is that it comes with unlimited downloads. Yes, you read that right: as many high-resolution images (and videos, and audio tracks) as you want/can download, for a flat fee of $65 a month or $349 a year. One of the lowest-priced and most flexible deals in cheap stock images you’ll ever find, ideal for a small business!

#6. Canva Pro – Free Trial & Cheap

Canva Image Samples 840x573 1
  • Royalty-Free license
  • Subscription
  • Price range: The more you download, the less it costs

Canva Pro is a design platform and tool famous for its user-friendly approach. As part of the service, they offer a large collection of stock photography to either use with their editor or on your own. 

A fraction of their catalog is of free stock photos, that you can download and use without paying a penny. Then, there’s the larger, premium segment of paid images. However, they come as part of the Canva Pro membership that has unlimited downloads plus a lot of bonus features. 

There is a cool Canva Pro Free Trial that gives you full access to the premium version for a whole month, including unlimited downloads of whatever photo or vector image you want. After that, the membership costs just $12.95 per month or $119.40 a year. A ridiculously great deal to get your perfect royalty free stock photo!

#7. Dreamstime – Free Files & Cheap

Dreamstime Home
  • Royalty Free license
  • Subscriptions and credits
  • Price range: $0.19 to $4.60

Dreamstime is a well-established company that sells photos for commercial use online. They have millions of them. 

The agency’s website includes a free photos section packed with, you guessed, free stock images. These are very valuable as they come from a professional supplier but cost literally nothing. 

If you can’t find what you need in the free section, you can always get paid royalty-free images from their collections. The best prices are with subscriptions, such as the one for 750 images monthly that cost $197. That breaks down to $0.26 per picture. 

An ideal cheap stock photo site for many!

#8. 123RF – Cheap Stock Photos

123RF Home
  • Royalty Free license
  • Subscriptions and credit packs
  • Price range: $0.19 to $4

123RF is a reputable microstock agency that specializes in royalty-free stock photos like its name gives away. They have millions of them for sale on their site. 

Subscriptions are the best-priced offer in this agency. For example, the 750 downloads a month plan comes at just $199, meaning each photo costs just $0.26. 

When it comes to finding a cheap stock photo, this is where you’ll find it!

#9. PikWizard – Free

PikWizard Home
  • Custom free license
  • Download as you go
  • Price range: Free

PikWizard offers free stock photos for commercial purposes, and what makes it great is that the site is run by WaveBreak Media, a professional stock media production house. As a result, the photos are professionally-shot and superb quality, have a great commercial value, and they are very legally safe thanks to the custom, free use license they are issued, that requires no attribution.

#10. Unsplash – Free

Unsplash Home
  • Custom free license
  • Download as you go
  • Price range: Free

Unsplash is a platform that integrates free photos and a photography community. As a result, they have a lot of Instagram-worthy images –submitted by their community– you can use in your work without paying a penny, and their custom license for free usage is a valuable, legal-safety factor. Forget about that risky google image, go for Unsplash photos.

#11. Gratisography – Free

Gratisography Home
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  • Custom free license
  • Download as you go
  • Price range: Free

Gratisography is a free stock photo site run by an experimental artist and photographer, author of all the photos on offer. It is a strong artistic, unique-styled collection of images that might not fit all commercial purposes but is certainly great to add an edge to your visual content, and the custom license added to the fact the person licensing them is the one who owns them is a bonus safety net, legal-wise.

#12. Pexels – Free

Pexels Home
  • Custom free license
  • Download as you go
  • Price range: Free

Pexels is a free image site that offers both user-submitted content as well as aggregates from other free photo sources on the web. This allows them to host a very large and very rich pool of images. As they issue their own custom license for free use, they are a lot safer legally than Creative Commons images that are offered all over the web.

Get Down to Creative Business with Cheap Stock Photography

Put your creativity to work right now, and launch your first image search at your favorite of the above-listed sites, you’ll be blown away by the quality and affordability of images.

As you now know where to look for to find beautiful, engaging, and professional stock images that are also cheap (and even free!) there is no stopping you from taking the world by storm with your visuals!

Header image copyright: marshi / Photocase.com, all rights reserved.

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