I have always had a tough time with backgrounds images for Data Visualizations. On one hand, they can enhance the appeal and engagement of a dashboard if used well, and on the other, they can add extra visual clutter. In saying that, it is up to the practitioner to use background images wisely, and when using wisely, why not check out these wonderful websites with free to use stock images, my go to places, in no particular order:


Pexels provides high quality and completely free stock photos licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. All photos are nicely tagged, searchable and also easy to discover through our discover pages. Currently we cover over 40,000 free stock photos. And every month at least 3,000 new high resolution photos will be added. All photos are hand-picked from photos uploaded by our users or sourced from free image websites. We make sure all published pictures are high-quality and licensed under CC0.

Only Creative Commons images from our community of photographers and sources like Pixabay, Gratisography, Little Visuals and many more are added to our photo database. We constantly try to deliver as many high quality free stock photos as possible to the creatives who use our website.

We help millions of designers, writers, artists, programmers and other creators to get access to beautiful photos that they can use freely which empowers them to create amazing products, designs, stories, websites, apps, art and other work. We call it: “Empowering Creators”. Pexels is run by Bruno Joseph, Ingo Joseph and Daniel Frese. Bruno and Ingo co-founded Pexels together in 2014 and Daniel joined them in 2015.

Website: https://www.pexels.com


Unsplash is a website dedicated to sharing copyright-free photography under the Unsplash license. The website claims over 70,000 contributing photographers and generates more than 5 billion photo impressions per month on their growing library of over 509,000 photos. Unsplash has been cited as one of the world’s leading photography websites by Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, CNET, Medium and The Next Web.

Unsplash allows photographers to upload photos to its website, which are then curated by a team of photo editors. The permissive copyright terms on its photos has led to Unsplash becoming one of the largest photography suppliers on the internet, with its members’ photos frequently appearing on articles. Other uses for Unsplash art include album art, advertisements, and product art for companies.

One of the pioneers of the copyright-free photography model, Unsplash was created in 2013 by Montreal-based entrepreneur Mikael Cho. While creating a new homepage for his company Crew, Cho was unable to find a suitable stock photo and hired a photographer instead. Afterwards, Cho posted the outtakes from his company photoshoot on Tumblr, inviting people to use them as they saw fit.

Website: https://www.unsplash.com


Canva is a graphic-design tool website, founded in 2012. It uses a drag-and-drop format and provides access to over a million photographs, graphics, and fonts. It is used by non-designers as well as professionals. The tools can be used for both web and print media design and graphics.

The company was founded 1 January 2012 in Australia by Melanie Perkins, who had previously founded Fusion Books, Australia’s largest yearbook publisher. Canva rapidly became popular, with more than 750,000 users in its first year. Social-media and technology expert Guy Kawasaki joined the company as chief evangelist in April 2014. In 2015, Canva Work was launched which gave businesses a tool for producing marketing materials.

As of 2018, the company employs 200 people and has offices both in Australia and San Francisco. For the 2016-17 financial year, revenue increased from $AU 6.8m to $AU 23.5m, with losses of $3.3m. In 2017, the company reached profitability and had 294,000 paying customers. In January 2018, founder Melanie Perkins announced the company had raise $40 million by Sequoia Capital, Blackbird Ventures, and Felicis Ventures, and it was now valued at $1 billion.

In June 2018, the Canva announced it would be partnering with Dropbox to integrate its designs and images into the platform. Canva has a host of free works for usage.

Website: https://www.canva.com


Pixabay.com is an international website for sharing high quality public domain photos, illustrations, vector graphics, and film footage. As of November 2017, Pixabay offers over 1,188,454 free photos, illustrations, and vectors and videos.

The enterprise was founded in November 2011 in Ulm, Germany by Hans Braxmeier and Simon Steinberger. In March 2012, Pixabay was redesigned, switching from a personal image collection into an interactive online community, supporting 20 languages. In May of the same year, a public Application Programming Interface (API) was launched, allowing third party users and website developers to search Pixabay’s image database. Today, the API is being used by the designer community Psykopaint, and inside Jimdo’s WYSIWYG homepage editor. Along with Flickr, YouTube and Wikimedia Commons, in June 2012, Pixabay was included on Creative Commons’ official CC search site. On a regular basis, Pixabay received attention in international print and online magazines. In 2014, six additional interface languages were implemented (Thai, Vietnamese, Greek, Slovak, Bulgarian, Danish) and in 2015, Pixabay started offering film footage in addition to images – all of which released under Creative Commons license CC0.

Website: https://pixabay.com


At StockSnap, we know how frustrating it can be to look for the right images for your digital and print projects. There are so many factors to consider: content, angle, color scheme, composition, artistry, and more.

Then there are the business aspects to think about. How much will using this image cost you? Can you do what you need to do with it? How about editing it? What’s allowed? What’s prohibited? This is a problem StockSnap was created to solve. Here, you’ll find no complicated credit requirements or expensive pricing schemes based on usage. In fact, all of our images are absolutely free to use, for absolutely any purpose whatsoever.

StockSnap is built on a very simple premise: We promise our users an ever-expanding collection of the best, most beautiful stock images for free. And we offer these images under a single, simple CC0 license that lets you do what you want with all our photos, with no attribution required.

Website: https://stocksnap.io

So there it is, my top go to places for stock images. Did I miss any you love to use? Comment below and help me write part 2.

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