3 Copyright-Free or Friendly Stock Image Sites that Focus on Representation

3 Copyright-Free or Friendly Stock Image Sites that Focus on Representation
Photo Credit: Vice’s Gender Spectrum Collection

As the content revolution explodes, and bloggers, creatives, business owners and influencers seek visual content for their projects, it’s clear visual content is key. But what’s also clear is that it’s 2021 and diversity and representation needs to become a top priority (if it isn’t already).

Everyone can work at making equity and diversity a priority by showing up for BIPOC creators, positioning your power and privilege, and being  a better listener. (For more on that, check our Anti-Racism: Action Guide For White Creatives here). You can also incorporate inclusive design into your work by using images that go beyond the stuffy, white, gender-exclusive corporate style of many traditional stock image websites.

If you want to learn more about intellectual property and copyright, check out our cliff notes to familiarize yourself with some terms. And if you’re looking for royalty free music and sound to go with your creative project, here’s a list of some sources.

Please note, copyright free does not always equal royalty free and vice versa. Also, copyright-free does not necessarily mean free use. All of these collections have specific licenses with either use restrictions or attribution requirements or both, and some specify that images should not be used for commercial purposes.

That said, here are 3 copyright-friendly stock image sites that put representation first:

The Gender Spectrum Collection

A collection of stock photos that go “beyond the binary,” Vice’s Gender Spectrum Collection features images of trans, gender fluid, and non-binary models licensed under Creative Commons.

The library aims to fight stereotypes and help creators portray people along the gender spectrum as well, people. Their recommended usage guide helps walk you through not only the terms of the licenses but also how to challenge your own implicit bias about gender when representing the community. 


Nappy is a collection of high-res stock photos of black and brown people meant to challenge and broaden what kinds of images are usually included in traditional stock photo sites (i.e., white people). Under their Creative Commons license, Nappy allows for  downloading, photos, modifying, sharing, and distribution.

In fact, they highly encourage it. As the site says, “the more you use them, the more we’re helping improve the representation of black and brown people in media.”

Body Liberation Photos

Body Liberation runs on low-cost (under a dollar) credits which allow you to purchase and download images. But it’s a small price to pay for body-positive images and photos of people of all shapes and sizes, especially considering all the history of stigma and unrealistic body types in media and advertising. While industries like beauty and fashion are finally starting to wake up and portray more body diversity in their ad campaigns, there’s still a long way to go. 

So why not “use this opportunity to stand out in any market and reach entirely new demographics by representing the real bodies and lives of your customers,” writes owner and Washington State creative Lindley Ashline.

you may also enjoy