FreeImages Review (formely: stock.xchng) (2023)

By Matic Broz, editor-in-chief of Photutorial covering stock media, Adobe, and design. He founded Photutorial while finishing his PhD in computational biosciences.
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Is it worth it?

FreeImages is not an ideal platform for browsing free stock photos due to the overwhelming number of advertisements and frequent redirections to iStock. Moreover, the search function is inefficient, and the resulting images are often heavily intertwined with iStock’s collection, making it challenging to discover high-quality free photos.


  • 400K free photos
  • Creative Commons 0 license


  • Too many ads
  • Poor search engine
FreeImages logo
Photutorial Score
Photutorial Score = 1.5/5

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FreeImages vs. stock.xchng

FreeImages, previously known as stock.xchng or SXC, was a website that offered free-to-use stock photography and illustrations. It was founded in 2001 by Péter Görgényi, Péter Hamza, and András Pfaff and allowed users to upload, share, and download high-resolution photographs and illustrations at no cost. The site provided a library of high-quality, royalty-free photographs that designers and other creative professionals could use in their projects. Contributors were also encouraged to submit their work to enhance their photography careers.

By 2009, the site had over 2.5 million registered users, with one million of those users in the United States alone, and offered over 400,000 photos. It operated alongside its sister site,, until the parent company, Jupiterimages, was purchased by Getty Images in 2009. Following the acquisition, the site became tied to the iStock library of paid images.

FreeImages also functioned as a social networking site where registered users could create personal profiles, participate in online forums, write blogs, and critique each other’s work. While the images were free to download, contributors retained moral rights, and photographs were still subject to usage restrictions.

Stockxpert, which had a similar user interface, was a commercial microstock photography site where users could purchase and download images for as low as $1. The free stock.xchng website included a sample of five images from Stockxpert to encourage users to purchase images from the site. However, following the acquisition of Jupiterimages by Getty Images in 2009, stock.xchng presented search results from Getty’s microstock site, iStockphoto.

The site was a subsidiary of HAAP Media, the stock photography division of Dream Interactive, until HAAP was acquired by Jupiterimages in 2008. In February 2009, Jupiterimages was purchased by Getty Images, and the stock photo operations of SXC became a joint venture between Getty and Dream Interactive. In December 2009, the founders sold their remaining interest in the sites and later started a similar service called Stockfresh.

Getty Images renamed the site FreeImages in 2014, and the web address was changed to a URL. The site still offers the older SXC images and a link to the iStock website.

Source: Wikipedia/freeImages


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