Unsplash is a website dedicated to sharing stock photography under the Unsplash license. Since 2021, it has been owned by Getty Images. Unsplash allows photographers to upload photos to its website, which are then curated by a team of photo editors.

Quick Facts


  • Ranked #1,017th worldwide
  • Active users 21 M
  • Type Media Sharing Networks
  • Launched date May 2013
  • Employees 89
  • Headquarters 500-400 rue McGill, Montréal, Québec, CA
  • Parent company Getty Images (2021 - present)


Mikael Cho Quebec
Luke GChesser
Stephanie Liverani
Angus Woodman


  • Brand value In 2020 N/A
  • Revenue in 2020 $3.45 b
  • Net loss In 2020 N/A

Current controversies

Current controversiesThe UK government Fatima cyber ad. (via nme.com)

Unsplash allows photographers to upload photos to its website, which are then curated by a team of photo editors.

Nevertheless, their decision to stop using a creative commons "zero" license in 2017 attracted criticism, as it took around 200,000 images out of the commons. The Unsplash license is incompatible with creative commons licenses, preventing use on sites like Wikipedia.

The lack of attribution for Unsplash photos has been the subject of controversy among photography circles, due to some companies using free Unsplash photography for profit without compensating the photographers. Unsplash itself has stated that it does not support the practice.

The Book

The BookThe Unsplash Book. (via iStock)

In 2016, while still a CC0 business, Unsplash released the Unsplash Book, the world's "first-ever fully crowd-sourced" book.

The book's photos, essays, and funding were all contributed by Unsplash's community. The book raised $106,000 on Kickstarter and included contributions from Harvard law professor and CC0 inventor Lawrence Lessig and designer Tobias van Schneider.

Original Idea

original ideaoriginal idea

Unsplash was created in May 2013 by Stephanie Liverani, Mikael Cho, and Luke Chesser in Montreal, Canada. While creating a new homepage for his company Crew, Cho was unable to find a suitable stock photo and hired a photographer instead.

Afterward, Cho posted the outtakes from his company photoshoot on Tumblr, inviting people to use them as they saw fit. Unsplash received more than 50,000 visits on its first day.

While Cho supplied the first batch of Unsplash photos, the site is now sustained by community contributions from amateur and professional photographers.

Due to the volume of photo submissions, the site employs an editorial team and "curators" picked from the Unsplash community, including Guy Kawasaki, Nas, Khoi Vinh, Amanda Hesser, and Om Malik.

Brief History

May 50,000 visits on the first day.

The first 10 Unsplash photos were uploaded.

Launched as a $19 Tumblr theme.Launched as a $19 Tumblr theme.

Sep Luke Chesser became the first full-time Unsplash team member.


May 10M downloads.
Sep Unsplash moved off Tumblr.

1M downloads per month.

Jan Unsplash Search launched.
May The First Unsplash Event.

Unsplash turns 2: 30M downloads from 15K photos, by 8K photographers.

Jul Unsplash Events go worldwide: From Tokyo to Seoul to London.
Aug Partnered with Apple stores, for Apple’s "Shot with iPhone" campaign.

Unsplash API launched.

Nov Unsplash Instant launched.

Introducing Unsplash Book.

Dec The first selfie on Unsplash comes from NASA.
Feb Unsplash Collections feature launched.

500M photos viewed per month.

Mar Apple iPad Pro launched with photos from Unsplash contributors Samuel Zeller and Anton Repponen.
Apr SpaceX historic rocket sea landing on Unsplash.
May Introducing Unsplash HQ & Café - a cafe workspace for creators.

Unsplash turns 3: 100M downloads.

Oct Introducing Unsplash for Apple TV.
Dec 1B photos viewed per month.
Jan Unsplash spun out from Crew and operated as its own company.
May Launch of the free Unsplash API.

Unsplash photos were covered by the Creative Commons Zero license.

Sep The Unsplash library hit 300,000 photos.

Introducing Unsplash Wallpapers for Mac.

Oct The Unsplash Awards was created.
Jan Unsplash Best of 2017: 100 photos viewed more than 500M times.

10 photo downloads per second.

Feb Partnered with Medium.

Unsplash raised $8M.

Unsplash changed its license terms.

Unsplash for Apple TV 2.0.

Mar Partnered with Timberland, Typeform, and Semplice.
Apr Unsplash for iOS launched.

500,000 photos.

May Unsplash API integrated into 500 products.
Dec A new logo for Unsplash.
Mar Unsplash’s reach is unleashed.
May 1M images have been contributed to Unsplash.
Jul 1B downloads.

The New York Public Library joined Unsplash.

Launched Unsplash for Education.

Dec Introducing Unsplash for Brands - a new kind of advertising for the internet.
Jan Institutions join Unsplash: The Library of Congress, British Library, Boston Public Library, National Cancer Institute.
May The United Nations joined Unsplash.
Jul Celebrating 2 milestones: 2M contributions from 200K global contributors.
Aug Open-source Unsplash dataset.
Jan Introducing Unsplash Hire.
Mar Unsplash was acquired by Getty Images.

Network Features

Unsplash Award

Unsplash AwardUnsplash Award. (via unsplash.com)

The Unsplash Award is a month-long celebration created to recognize the powerful impact Unsplash contributors have made through their generosity and artistry. Every day, thousands of photographers freely gift their work on Unsplash to move creativity forward.

10 Categories designed: Architecture Current Events Experimental Fashion Film Health & Wellness Interiors Nature People Street Photography

Unsplash API

Unsplash APIUnsplash API. (via unsplash.com)

The Unsplash API allows developers to integrate their applications with the API services, enabling their users to submit their photos to the Unplash platform directly from the applications. Developers must first register on Unsplash to use the API.


Beautiful photos from Unsplash in every new tab.

Download photos directly to your computer.

Motion: Bring Unsplash photos to life.

Minimal UI: Hide parts of the user interface to make Unsplash Instant even more minimal.

View photo and camera information.

Share photos with friends via Facebook and Twitter.


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