These seven are the only free image websites you’ll ever need.
If you would like to source images for your website or blog, but don’t want to spend money on them – where do you go? The major image sites can be expensive, and even new start-up subscription-based sites come with hefty price tags.
Well, you need to look for images that are available under a creative commons licence.
What is Creative Commons?
Creative Commons provides free, easy-to-use copyright licenses to make a simple and standardised way to give the public permission to share and use creative work. There are a number of different Creative Commons licences, but if you want download, modify, distribute, and use them royalty-free for anything you like, even in commercial applications, then you need to look for Creative Commons CC0 licence. For CC0 images, even attribution is not a requirement.
All pictures are released under Creative Commons CC0 into the public domain.
You can search for images on the creativecommons.org site but be aware that not all the images it returns will be under a CC0 licence. search.creativecommons.org is not a search engine, but instead offers access to search services provided by other independent organisations such as Google images or Wikimedia Commons.
Not all the results displayed in this search portal are under a CC0 licence, so you will need to check the image is under a CC0 licence by following the link.
What Exceptions Exist?
Be cognisant that, even if you are using a CC0 image, if the image you are using features identifiable people, you will need their consent to use the image. CC0 specifies that identifiable people may not appear in a bad light or in a way that they may find offensive, unless they give their consent. Nor can you use images of organisations or institutions in a way that implies their endorsement of your brand or what you are saying.
A certain amount of caution – or common sense – is still required when using an image under CC0 licence. As with anything on the web, play by the rules, act with respect and good intentions and you shouldn’t go far wrong…
We love Gratisography. This free image site is run by and features the work of talented photographer, Ryan McGuire. Intended as a showcase of his work, all the images are free to download and use without attribution. If you do use an image, show your appreciation by putting what you can towards Ryan’s coffee fund.
This site searches images with creative commons licences and contains a huge wealth of free images and videos you can use anywhere. All of the images and videos you will find on Pixabay are released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0.
All photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero which means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.
Pexels is another site which sources CC0 images from a variety of sources. Currently it offers more than 25,000 free stock photos and every month at least 3,000 new high resolution photos are added. All photos are hand-picked from photos uploaded by site users or sourced from free image sites.
- Negative Space
Negative Space allows you to search for CC0 images by category, colour, or copy space position. All the photos and raw files on this website are distributed under the CC0 creative commons license. By subscribing to the newsletter you can receive exclusive photos in your inbox.
- New Old Stock
This website offers vintage photos from public archives. All the images on the site are free of known copyright restrictions. They are sources from Flickr Commons and the site owner states the images “are to the best of my knowledge available in the public domain based on the institutions participation in the Flickr Commons and the rules of Flickr Commons”.
All photos are at the very least available for personal and non-commercial use, but to be absolutely sure you can use the image, check the institution’s rights statement through the link provided to the original Flickr posting. Some will require attribution of some kind.
- Free Nature Stock
All the photos on this site created by Adrian Pelletier are licensed under CC0. You are free to use the photos however you want, even in commercial work, without the need for permission or attribution. Adrian adds a new photo every day which he has personally captured. You can show you appreciation by contributing to Adrian’s coffee fund.
And if you still can’t find what you’re looking for?
Although this isn’t a free site, if you have something specific in mind, you might want to try…
This site allows you to commission original photography in three steps:
“Request Photos: tell photographers what you’re looking for, set a price, and turnaround time
Review Submissions: nominate photos to indicate what you like and award photographers with points
Purchase The Best: download the best photos that match your creative vision.”
You can also search the royalty-free library, but be warned these images aren’t free and most of them aren’t even cheap. But it is a useful resource if you want to commission original work.
Images are an increasingly important part of your online content or brand identity, so it is worth taking the time to find quality images that represent you/ your company well. These sites should be a great starting point for any blog owner or small business that wants to produce quality content without spending a lot of money on images.