Can you relate to insurance ads if models in the picture are an Asian family in Kimono? Pictures must be localized so that customers can relate to.

9 Amazingly Free Stock Photo Websites for content marketing in Japan

Everyone knows that blog posts need eye-catching images to increase traffic and share. But where do you find quality photos for free or for a reasonable price?

This post will introduce you to the six best websites where you can download quality stock photos and three websites where you can purchase quality photos for a reasonable price. I’ve hand-picked these stock photo websites with four criteria in mind:

  1. Quality of images
  2. Quantity of images
  3. Price
  4. Usability (especially Search)

Free Stock Photo site

Don’t underestimate the quality of free stock photos. You can often find professional, high quality photos in high resolution.

Credited Free Images – Pixabay is a website that provides CC0 Public Domain Dedication license photos, vectors, and illustrations. Pixabay is relatively new service among free stock photo services. However, it is rapidly gaining popularity for its vast number of photos and the quality of them.

Pixabay has more than 320,000 photos and the most of them are high quality. All photos are checked by volunteer users.

I always check Pixabay first because when you search for photos, you will see both free photos and photos from Shutterstock, which is one of the biggest premium stock photo sites.

写真AC (Photo AC)

Credited to 無料写真素材 写真AC

写真AC (Photo AC) is a Japanese free stock photo site. Among other stock photo services, Photo AC provide many photos at reasonable quality. While many other stock photo services sort search result by upload date, Photo AC sorts photos by popularity and is easy to use.

All photos of Photo AC are licensed under CC0 1.0 Universal. You need to create a free account in order to download photos from Photo AC.

The Company of 写真AC (Photo AC) also provides free fonts, free illustrations, pictograms, and map images.


Credited to 写真素材ぱくたそ

ぱくたそ(Pakutaso) is the most rapidly growing free stock photo site in Japan because of its unique photos.

Overall, quality of the web site is very high. It has a top notch, user friendly search and 5,000 high quality photos. However, the biggest feature of this website is it has many humorous photos (at least to Japanese).

The photos are free to edit and free to use for commercial projects. However, it is available only for organizations that have a Japanese-speaking contact person because Pakutaso is personally managed by a Japanese person that cannot speak English.

morgueFile free stock photos
Credited to MORGUEFILE

morgueFile is probably the second biggest free stock photo website. However, there are also quality amateur photos.

There is also a usability problem. The search result page displays photos that are cropped in a square so that you cannot easily tell if the photo is tall or wide.

By the way, the biggest stock photo service is, but I don’t recommend that you use it because some photos require you specifically credit them.

IM Free

Credited to IM Creator Ltd.

IM Free is a collection of high quality photos found on flickr. The quantity of photos is lower compared to Pixabay or morgueFile, but all photos are very high quality.

All photos are protected under Creative Commons License, therefore you need to always give credit.


Flickr Photo Sharing
Credited to Flickr, a Yahoo company

Flickr is a photo sharing social networking system. Creative Commons photos on flickr can be used for commercial projects and can be edited. There are more than 50,000,000 photos. The quality of the photos are high.

Premium Stock Photo Sites

Premium stock photo sites have more high quality photos that are shot to suit web design needs.


Credited Fotolia

If you could not find quality photos on free stock photo sites, your next move is to Fotolio. Fotolio is one of the biggest stock photo services in the world. Prices range from ₡0.16 to ₡2. For the quality, it is a reasonable price. You can find some of the same pictures on other websites, but Fotolio usually has the best price.


Credited to PIXTA Inc

PIXTA is a Japanese stock photo service. If you are looking premium photos of Japanese models, this is the place to go. The average expense is ¥1620, so it’s pricey compared to Fotolio, but you can find what you want there.

PIXTA also sells illustration and movies.

素材辞典.NET (
Credited to Image navi corporation

素材辞典.NET ( snippet sells for photos for an average price of ¥317.

Search usability is one of the best but photos are a little old fashioned.

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