Top 5 FREE & LOW COST Stock Photo Sites for Social Media Marketing


While they say don’t judge a book by it’s cover, they don’t mean social media because your cover is what counts.

Instagram in particular is a visual platform that speaks about your brand’s unique voice through strategically chosen photos.¬†Unless you’re a professional photographer, stock photos are the perfect way to keep your social media looking clean, crisp and perfectly tailored to your brand’s colors, products and services.

Do I really have to purchase stock photos?

Well yes and no.

Thankfully, there has been fantastic stock photo resources popping up that provide free or low cost photography to choose from. This makes costly photo subscriptions a thing of the past.

Here’s a list of our favorite free and low cost stock photo sites that fuel our mission for a impeccably curated social media account.


Unsplash is one of our favorite stock photo sites for a sophisticated collection of high resolution photos. Unsplash is free and doesn’t require an account and these photos are quick to download. In terms of selection, Unsplash doesn’t let you search for very specific items like “red chair” so it does require a fair amount of shopping through the various collections. When you type a vague keyword like “chair” you may get several pages to skim through. This is a great site for photos of food and people, however I’ve noticed many of these photos are overly filtered or blurred and aren’t applicable for every brand, but are undoubtedly beautiful nonetheless.


For free stock photos that are easy to search, Pexels is a great choice. Here you can expect to find the classic stock photos that are generic, bright and easy to incorporate into your feed. Pexels is a great option if you’re building graphics or putting together a flyer for your services. On this site, there are considerably less options to choose from but you can be extremely specific and get a decent selection of results. More often than not, if Unsplash doesn’t have it, Pexels usually will.


Pixabay is our new favorite! It’s a nice combination of Pexels and Unsplash, where you can easily browse through specific searches to find the perfect photo you’re looking for. Pixabay recommends making a free account where you can download as many photos as you’d like, otherwise you’re required to enter a “captcha” code with every download. Of course you can take a screenshot and avoid the captcha code, but you pay for it in quality and resolution. This is a very user friendly site and we’re loving the wide selection available and the download quality. They don’t have everything of course but they do come close.


Canva is the OG of low cost and free stock photo sites and is a great platform for customizing photos. Canva isn’t completely free but their features offer them a competitive edge over the other guys. Canva has a ton of free choices and the ones that aren’t free only cost $1 to download. Canva’s options are fairly classic in content. When it comes to graphics, Canva can’t simply can’t be beat. Our biggest criticism for this site is the unavailability of certain colors and it is not as culturally diverse as it should be. Canva is a great resource for any business owner and they make editing super easy for all skill levels.


While it might not seem “cheap,” Istock photo has an incredible selection of stock photos. You can submit a specific keyword search and have great search results. They are a favorite for culturally appropriate and diverse content and with their flexible subscription plans, it is a great resource for the supplemental stock photography that can’t be found on many free and low cost sites. You can even select photo sizes for the best resolution for the task at hand. While you may be investing more with Istock, it’s a great photo site to fill in the gaps for your brand’s content at a fairly reasonable cost to match almost any budget.

Armed with these, you’ll have access to some of the most beautiful photos that are sure to give your social media a competitive edge.¬†

Many great stock photos are free, but you get what you pay for. Since you aren’t paying anything on some of these sites, you’re kind of at their mercy when it comes to quality. It can be difficult to diversify your feed culturally or even stick to a certain color in your palette.