I’ve spent hours looking for the right images over the years. Images that capture the mood, tell a story and bring the words to life. I’m not a good photographer, but I’m a good scavenger, and now I have the support of an even better scavenger. So I rely on some specific sites as sources for free images. I’m looking for images that don’t cost anything, are open source, but that honour the photographer in the process.
So it’s time to collect together these websites to save you time. And don’t thank me for this one, thank Stacey– she’s done all the hard work. Take it away Stace…
Free Images & Premium Images
Dreamstime supplies high quality stock photos on almost any subject you can imagine. While a lot of these are premium and require a fee, there is a dedicated free section.
The free section requires a short, free registration process, but after that, you’re able to download from a sizeable pool of quality images. In most cases an attribution credit, linking back to the photo origin is required although Dreamstime does include a handy snippet for you to paste with your image to make things easier.
Image courtesy of akratchada torsap / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
This site is slightly different in that you can use a smaller, image from their collection for free. These stock images are usually sized small enough to look comfortable as editorial content, however for larger, more detailed versions you’ll have to pay a premium.
In almost all cases with Free Digital Photos, you’ll need to include a credit link when using the photo.
3. Free Images
With Free Images, the required registration to use their stock is a slightly long one, however it’s free and once you’re in you have access to plenty of visual imagery for any of your needs.
Images are free to use and download, but you’ll need to check the licence terms on each image to find out what you can use it for and whether you need to seek permission/link back to the source.
Another site that requires a free registration is Free Range Stock. When searching for an image, the results show a line of sponsored results from shutterstock, before moving on to the free results.
Once you’re logged in, you can download any image from photos to vector stock. Make sure you check the license terms and credit the source where possible.
Free Photos Bank doesn’t require registration to download their user submitted photos. Simply search for your required image, then either download as a .zip or .jpg. You can also then rate the photograph or print it directly from the website.
There doesn’t appear to be any terms regarding attribution, however it’s worth doing so to be safe.
This site has both a free and paid section for people who need a little extra choice with their image search. Free registration is required and unfortunately the free section is fairly limited in terms of quantity. That being said it’s certainly worth adding to your list of free resources.
7. IM Free
IM Free is a curated collection of free resources that can be used for commercial use. These resources include icons, photos, vector images and templates that are all of a good quality and high standard.
Clicking on a photo, takes you to the main image and you’ll see that the original source must be attributed when using the file. Watch out for the original license usage too.
The registration for Morguefile is pretty quick and easy to get through. Images are user submitted and free to use, with each image clearly stating the usage rights. Much of the stock doesn’t require an attribution link, however check as some will do.
Pixabay is one of my favourite sources for great stock images. There’s no sign-up required to download an image and they can be downloaded in a range of sizes to suit.
Images at the larger end of the spectrum require you to fill in a captcha prompt, however this can be bypassed by registering for a free account. Once downloaded you’re free to use the image as you see fit and are not bound by having to attribute.
Another website with a sizeable pool of stock is Public Domain Pictures. As the name suggests, these images are in the public domain and are therefore free to download and use. The signup is brief and there’s also a premium section for larger versions of the images.
Make sure you read the text beneath the photo which stipulates that attribution to that page is mandatory. You’ll also need to look into the license terms as some images require a model or property release.
Images on this website are again free to use and no registration is required to download. Below the image is a tab which stipulates the terms of the image and you’ll probably find that many of them will require an attribution link. These images are mostly non commercial too, so can’t be used to promote a product or service.
Rgbstock has a 1 click registration process that makes signing up super easy. Images are free to download and can be used for commercial and non commercial projects. There’s no mention of attribution therefore I’d err on the side of caution and include one anyway. Once registration is complete, downloading the file is simple, no-fuss process.
13. Ancestry Images
Going down a slightly different route, Ancestry Images hosts a large collection of free, historical stock images. These are perfect if you’re interested in genealogy. The website owner requests that these images should not be used for commercial use and that a link back to the source is greatly appreciated.
The idea behind BigFoto is that amateur photographers can submit images they’ve taken (usually of landscapes from around the world) and share them for free with anyone who wishes to use them. Everything is completely free for both personal and commercial use and I have to say some of them are truly breathtaking.
Gratisography is awesome. There’s not really any other explanation. Every week new photos are added to this collection of high resolution, premium quality images and they’re all absolutely free to do whatever you want with. Seriously, what are you waiting for? Go check them out!
Similar to Gratisography is Death To The Stock Photo. Every month, you’re sent a zip file of brand new, high res images to use as you wish. No registration or attribution required.
If you’re after stunning images to use commercially in a development project, look no further. FreeMediaGoo is place for developers to share and source free media for use on TV, in Print, Film and anything else you can think of. No attribution required, no rules. Just amazing images.
Hubspot may not be your conventional choice for sourcing free stock images, however every now and then they do come up with the goods. They’ve been known in the past to package together high quality stock photos that are free to use and all they ask in return, is that you sign up to their newsletter.
Considering they post other really useful content, I would say it’s more than worth doing!
19. Little Visuals
Little Visuals is like a treasure trove of gorgeous imagery. Every week they release 7 new images that royalty and attribution free. Meaning you can use them wherever and whenever you want.
20. New Old Stock
If vintage is more your style, New Old Stock hosts a large pool of vintage stock that have no known copyright and which are free for use without attribution.
There’s some corkers here – perfect for adding some authenticity to a blog post or a little vintage humour.
For another website that offers beautiful, high resolution photos, head on over to PicJumbo. Each week they release a brand new batch of images that are completely free to download – no attribution or signup required.
When you click on a photo, you’ll noticed that you can get more images from a particular photo shoot. This however will cost you, but is worth taking up if you have the cash and need a series of similar images.
Those with a more natural eye and an appreciation for all things ‘nature’, will love Pickupimage. This site features mostly nature and environment related images that are in the public domain, meaning they’re free to use, edit and publish – all without attribution.
There’s no registration needed to use these photos and you can download them in a couple of different sizes, saving you time in the editing process.
For some truly professional photography, Folkert Gorter has you covered. Nearly all of the images on his website ‘Superfamous’ are free to use, however must attribute correctly and give credit to Folkert when publishing.
Unsplash releases 10 brand new photos, every ten days for you to download, modify, use and play with to your heart’s content. They’re completely free and require no attribution, making image sourcing hassle free and inspiring. This is also another of my more popular choices.
The Wikimedia Commons is a directory of freely usable image files in the public domain. If you’re used to wikipedia’s layout and system, then you should be okay finding what you need. However because each image is so acutely categorised, some people may find it difficult to navigate.
26. Can We Image
To make the process of searching for wikimedia commons images much simpler, give Can We Image a try. It searches and displays results from the free-to-use image depository and then links directly to the usage rights page. This makes it easier to figure out whether you can use the image or not.
27 – 31 Image Search Engines
The following websites are slightly different in that they allow you to search through sites such as Flickr and Wikimedia Commons for your perfect picture. Most of them will allow you to filter your search results based on license type and usually provide you with some code for attribution purposes. Among these image search engines are:
StockPhotos.io is creative common licensed and acts as a free stock photos community where users can upload, share, search for and use each others work. Many of these images can be used for commercial use too however require the proper credits included with the image when publishing.
TinyEye is a bit different. Instead of searching for images, it allows you to use it as a reverse image search engine. In essence it means you can find out where a photo comes from, it’s original source and if there are any other versions of it online.
This is really handy if you have a small image and you need a high resolution version. It’s also particularly useful if you’re trying to find the creator of the image, in order to request permissions to use it.
Wylio is a small start-up image finder that has multiple uses all under one roof. Users can source images, resize them and create attributions all on the same website, which is pretty snazzy if you ask me.
For some of the better packages you do have to pay a monthly fee, however free accounts can resize 5 free images per month. This is great if you’re not a heavy image user.
Now we’re entering the realm of proper creativity here. If you can’t find an image that’s just right for your needs, why not create one yourself? Canva is one of those sites that with a bit of practice you’ll be using over and over again. It enables you to use pre-set templates to create visually stunning images with a few clicks of your mouse.
You can tap into Canvas’ archives of fonts, graphics and layouts, including ideal templates for Pinterest – all for free – or pay a few dollars for some premium features.
Similar to Canva, Picmonkey functions as a lightweight Photoshop-like web editor. There’s a feature to create collages, add image overlays, different fonts, colours and many other features that are too numerous to count.
You can use Picmonkey perfectly well for free however to access some of the better fonts and effects, the Royale version is your best bet.
37. Getty Images
More commonly known for its premium range of stock photos that cost a pretty penny, Getty Images has made news recently with its free embeddable image service. What that means for us is that we can embed these images directly into our blog posts as a free alternative to the traditional paid-for stock photo.
The only draw-back from this approach to image sharing is the inability to download the picture first. This can’t be done if you go for this option, so it’s worth weighing the pros and cons before diving in.
38 – 43 Embeddable Social Media
— Stacey Corrin (@SCorrinBlog) July 15, 2014
Now there’s a lot to be said for Social Media and how we should be sharing a lot more images on those networks, to boost our visibility and reach. Have you ever considered using a Tweet or Status Update as an image in and of itself though?
Far from simply publishing your updates into the ether, you can breathe new life into your social statuses by embedding these posts into a blog post or website page. All of the networks mentioned below offer a method to embed a status update as an image, including:
44. Deviant Art
If you’ve come across Deviant Art before, then you’ll probably recognise it as a place to share your art works, photography, poetry and prose. Pretty much anything creative goes on there. What few people know however, is that a lot of these images can be used as editorial content, providing you get the right permissions.
Some artists will state on a post or somewhere in their profile whether these images can be used elsewhere or not, and there’s never any harm in asking. It’s certainly a great way to add some variety into your imagery, without paying a hefty price.
45. Open Clipart
Staying on the artwork and image theme, Open Clipart is another source of graphics that are free for public use. This clipart has been released into the Public Domain and can be used for unlimited commercial use, so there’s no way you can be confused over what you can and can’t do with the images once they’re downloaded.
Ever wondered how people manage to get awesome looking scenes of a mobile device with their own image or text in it? Most people who do this probably use a pdf template or manage it with Adobe Illustrator which can be a bit of a pain if you’re not used to them. Placeit however takes the fuss out of that by doing it for you.
The idea is that they provide you with a range of backgrounds, tablet templates, mobile phone and computer templates, you then add a URL of the page you’d like a screenshot of and Placeit then pops it into the template. You can also upload an image if you prefer and it will be added perfectly in place as if it really was your image on that device.
To use the images for free, you’re only able to download a small version, however they do have options for a premium account if you’d like something a little bigger.
47. Vector Toons
Vector Toons has a range of stock graphics that are free to use online. Head on over to their free section and choose from any of the included images which includes fun cartoons, objects, icons and many other vectors.
48. Foodies Feed
You’ll love this if you’re a foodie because Foodies Feed is, as you tell, all about the delicious morsels we call food. The beautiful foodie finds on this site are of a very high quality, are completely free and have absolutely no limitations on how you go about using them. If you’re feeling really nice, you can always donate towards the photographers funds.
Another source of breathtaking imagery is Albumarium, almost an emporium of visually stunning images that are submitted by users and curated on the website. The Terms of Service stipulate that all images must be submitted under the Creative Commons license and the author must be credited properly when you go to use their photographs.
With SplitShire, the site owner has posted his own collection of high-res photography. On the website he states that he’s always on the lookout for great image sources and so decided to serve up his own offerings for anyone to use.
There’s no limitations on these photographs, meaning you can use them for any purpose you like, and believe me, there’s some amazing pictures to choose from.
51. Curated Quotes
Why post an image when a quote can be just as useful? That’s what Curated Quotes were thinking when they made all of their image quotes free to use. Combining an emotive photograph with inspiration quotes, these images are both powerful and useful in their own right. While the image quotes are free to use, Curated Quotes does prefer a link included, crediting them when publishing.
Getting back to the nature theme, Sunpix is an excellent resource for all things natural. The images are free to download and use and feature striking, decadent images of flora and fauna, as well as animals and natural scenes.
Sometimes we could do with a repeatable pattern for a blog background or design project. A lot of the ones you’ll find online for free aren’t that original or are fairly low quality. The pattern Library however provides an interesting and fun solution.
Right now the library is fairly limited, but the patterns you’ll find in their archives are of a brilliant quality and include some interesting choices. If you’re into quirky, you’ll especially love their sushi pattern, which as with all of their patterns, is free to download and use without any form of registration.
I’m in love with Free Refe’s collection of images, mostly due to the fact they’re all taken from a mobile device. These prove that you can get some stunning effects with the right filter, lighting and subject matter.
All images are free to use, are of a very high resolution and require no attribution to share and enjoy.
Picography is relatively new to the free image market, however the images that they already have are excellent. Created by a branding company based in Dublin, all images are free to use for commercial and personal use, without any attribution back to the source required.
The last of our free to use image sourcing websites is Start Up Stock Photos. Here you’ll find high quality photography based around a busy start-up company. Far from being your usual corporate business stock photo, these images have a sense of realism to them that’s excellent for adding a touch of authenticity to your content. The images are free to use and again, no attribution is required.
57 – 63 Paid Stock Photos
No list of image sources would be complete without including some of the best places to get your hands on some professional, paid photography. The sites below include some popular websites that you’ve probably heard of, along with a few wild cards like Creative Market and Etsy who are more popularly known for other products. The last of our list includes:
So there we have it. Stacey- you’ve done us proud! For a while we called this post ‘the blog post of doom’, as it took such a HUGE amount of time to pull together. We hope it’s been helpful to you, and will save you heaps of time.
Now it’s your turn. Can you suggest any additional free image sources or websites? I’d love you to add them in the list below, and if we can get the number to 99, we’ll turn it into a free eBook.