free horror stock

The post is designed for the graphic-hungry horror hounds out there. For my fellow bloggers, podcasters, and content creators, I know how frustrating it can be to hunt and hunt and hunt for free to use commercially images in a world where bright cheerful colors and cheesy corporate stock photos prevail. So I’ve done some collecting.

I found all of the best free stock photo sites and created a collection of keywords that will help you (and future me, hehe) spend less time searching for the darker side of stock.

Most of these sites are free to use anyway you want without needing to add attribution, but please do double check before using since it changes from site to site.


Happy horror hunting my friends:

Pixabay is a website with a fantastic collection of images free of copyrights. All pictures are released under Creative Commons CC0 into the public domain. I like this site a lot because there’s a bigger selection of more creative work.

Best keyword searches:

  1. Horror
  2. Grave
  3. Dark
  4. Grunge



The morguefile was created by Michael Connors as a college student in 1996. It is currently a collaborative effort between brothers Kevin Connors and Michael Connors, with Johannes Seemann. The morguefile contains photographs freely contributed by many artists to be used in creative projects by visitors to the site []

The images from this site are specifically posted for designers and artists to play with and manipulate, so I, of course, am in love with it. You can also use the image undocotored, but you should try and give credit whenever possible.

Best keyword searches:

  1. Horror
  2. Grave
  3. Dark
  4. Grunge
  5. Scary
  6. Ghost

[Credit from left to right Scott Liddell  , wintersixfour, greyerbaby , dpawatts]

This site offer a 10 new free to use anywhere photos every 10 days. I’m signed up for their email subscription service because I always find something fun to use.

Best Keyword Searches:

  1. Antique
  2. Old
  3. Decay
  4. Dark
  5. Ghost
  6. Storm
  7. Fall
  8. Water


Publicdomainpictures is a repository for public domain pictures donated by users.

Best keyword searches:

  1. Horror
  2. Grave
  3. Dark
  4. Grunge
  5. Scary
  6. Ghost
  7. Occult is a collection of high quality royalty free images that is added to weekly. There isn’t a huge selection, but what’s there is worth investigating.

Best keyword searches:

  1. Grave
  2. Dark
  3. Halloween is a collection or free high-resolution pictures you can use on your personal and commercial projects. And all of them are the work of one photographer, Ryan McGuire.

There’s not much of a search function for the collection, but just have a scroll through his site and you’re guaranteed to find something you love. He has a great commercial eye, but also a twisted sense of humor that comes through in a lot of his work. is another individual photographer sharing some of their massive archive of work for free. Daniel Nanescu has a great collection and also offers a very affordable subscription service if you’d like easier access to the collection.

Here’s some of the keywords I found helpful on his site:

  1. Black
  2. Night
  3. Background

This site certainly falls into the “scroll endlessly for images” category, since when you do a search it takes a while to load up. (or maybe it’s just me?) But they have such an incredible collection so it’s worth rooting around in it for a while.

Helpful Keywords:

  1. Dark
  2. Old
  3. Fall

My favorite categories:

  1. Black and White
  2. Industrial
  3. Nature
  4. Textures


New Old Stock

This one is a scroll-for-days adventure filled with old photography that is now public domain. Lots of great options, but no real structure for searches. Wander, collect and enjoy for this one.

This website doesn’t stop just at free images, but also has a bunch of other free webdesign resources. So if you need to create buttons for your website or find a good template to use you’ll find some options here too. However, FYI, a lot of the images do require attribution.

Although there really isn’t a ton of selection for our purposes it’s still worth perusing.

Best Keyword Search: Dark

Favorite Categories:

  1. Objects and Items
  2. Black and White
  3. Art and Music
  4. Backgrounds
  5. Blurred images


(Photo credit Mark J. Sebastian)


♦ ————- ♦

I hope this helps you on your journey of creation, and if you know of any sites that have some stellar horror stock for free let me know, I’ll add it to the collection.

Creating A Memorable CharacterI’m still in the “keep it as affordable as possible” boat myself, but someday I’ll explore the pay-to-play stock sites too. Once I do, I’ll offer what insights I can for that process as well.

If you found this post helpful then you may also enjoy 131 Horror fonts you can use anywhere, come check it out.

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