My favourite place to download copyright free images

Review of Pixabay

As an online marketer, I always need good photos to include in my content.

Yesterday I wrote a blog for a client recommending some of the best attractions to visit in Cornwall, and I needed a photo of each to enhance the post.

That’s a photo of St Michael’s Mount, the Eden Project, the Lost Gardens of Heligan, Tintagel Castle….

pixabay st michaels mount search

I live in Cornwall and have been lucky enough to visit most of these places so I was able to dig through the folders on my computer and find some relevant photos of my own to include.

But many of them featured the smiling faces of my husband and son, or they weren’t good enough quality to include on a client’s blog.

Time to search for a stock photo instead.

woman Google search on laptop

Stock photo options

Stock photo libraries are big business – any content creator, whether they’re a journalist, blogger or copywriter needs good quality images, but they can cost thousands of pounds.

Prices vary, but as an example, one of the biggest stock photo sites, Shutterstock, charges £32 for five images up to £299 a month for up to 750 image downloads. Not something your average blogger has kicking around in spare change.

Enter the free stock photo sites – a library of images where you can search, find and download a wide range of pictures to use on your website.

My favourite is Pixabay – it offers over 700,000 free stock photos, vectors and illustrations, all freely available to use under the Creative Commons Licence.

Review of Pixabay

This means they can be modified and used for any application – anyone can upload images to Pixabay, but they must agree that their images have ‘model release’ which means permission has been granted by anyone featured. See Pixabay’s terms of service for full details.

I love it because it’s easy to use, free and always available.

Let’s take a closer look with a more detailed review of Pixabay:


No need to register

It’s easy to download the images from Pixabay without having to register or create an account. The only slight inconvenience is you’ll need to enter a captcha code every time you download an image:

pixabay captcha code

(Alternatively you could simply sign-up for a free account using your Facebook or Google+ login for ease, and you can skip the step which asks you to enter the captcha).

Unlimited downloads

I use Pixabay a lot. And I’ve never received a message telling me I’ve reached my download limit.

I’ve done a bit of research and it looks like the servers can allow up to 5,000 requests per hour, but I don’t think you’ll ever get anywhere near this!

is there a download limit to Pixabay

Good search criteria

You’re busy – I’m busy – we haven’t got time to scroll endlessly through page after page of potential photos in the hope that the perfect one will soon appear. Instead, you can use the criteria at the top of the page within Pixabay to narrow your search.

pixabay search criteria

The ones I use most often are the ‘All images’ dropdown, where I select ‘Photos’, and the ‘Orientation’ dropdown, where I select ‘Horizontal’.

I rarely use illustrations or vectors in my blog posts – I’m normally looking for a photo, and landscape orientation works better in my blog layout than portrait.

Using these variables I’m able to search more easily and find the best image in less time.

It’s online

You don’t need to be at the same computer to access all those juicy stock photos – as Pixabay is online 24/7, you can search the image library and download wherever and whenever you like.

pixabay search on google


Limited choice

One of the frustrations of Pixabay is the lack of images – although there are over 700,000, there are still searches that return zero results.

pixabay nothing available

This is understandable – it’s a free service, reliant upon its users to upload content, so there will always be gaps in provision. Compare this to Shutterstock, with over 7 million images… you get what you pay for.

Posed images

Over the last few years, stock photos have become a bit of a joke. Those staged images of tanned office workers ‘laughing’ jovially over a laptop during a meeting make me cringe.

pixabay stock photo of woman on laptop

Pixabay has its fair share of ‘cheesy’ photos, but there are some beautiful gems if you can wade through the rubbish.

The photos end up everywhere

Because Pixabay is one of the most popular free stock photo sites, the photos are downloaded thousands of times. I’ve seen this one of three different blogs in the past few months:

pixabay popular image

I’ve used it myself – it’s a nice image – but if you want your blog to be unique in every way, Pixabay isn’t going to give you the cutting edge that makes you stand out visually.


Pixabay isn’t for everyone. If you don’t have the budget to hire your own photographer, and you’re not confident taking your own photos, stock photo sites offer a simple and convenient alternative.

There are plenty of other stock photo sites that offer free images – these include, .and negativespace.

See a full list of alternatives here or use this handy search engine ( to search all of them at once.


I hope you found this review of Pixabay useful. Stock photo sites have their limitations, even the expensive ones, but for blog posts and editorial content, Pixabay is one of the best tools out there. What other photo sites do you use most? Share in the comments below.

Images published on sites such as Pixabay are made available under the Creative Commons Licence – make sure you read up and understand what you can and can’t use in your marketing materials.



18 thoughts on “My favourite place to download copyright free images”

    1. Ha! That’s what I’ve found recently, Rebekah – Pixabay images are taking over the world!!

      I’ve found there’s not normally as much choice on the other free stock photo websites but there are more unusual quirky shots 🙂

      Lucy x

    1. Thanks JC – I love Unsplash more every day – it seems slower than Pixabay and not as much choice of pics but the ones that are there are beautiful – great quality.

      Think I need to get to know Pexels a bit more… 🙂

      Lucy x

    1. Thanks Jeff – Pixabay has become one of those sites that’s open in my browser most of the time! Hope you find it useful too, Lucy x

  1. Great article, I love Pixaby too and agree on the cons… you start to see the images on other’s blogs, but still great for use for image quotes 🙂

    1. Good point, Lise – using the images on quotes is a great way to make use of the fab library of images while also customising them a bit.

  2. I really like Stockpic. They send you 10 free photos every 2 weeks. They have beautiful photos.
    A lot of the time writing blog posts is the easy part trying to find photos that are suitable takes up more time.

    1. So true Darren – I find it takes just as long to find the images and create the graphics as it does to write the blog post. Worth it though. Thanks for mentioning Stockpics – I’ve not heard of it before but have just subscribed so look forward to receiving the pics 🙂

      Thanks, Lucy x

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