When faced with trying to find a photo, many people are not aware that most of the photos they find around the web are not free. In fact, there have been many times that I have worked with clients and noticed that they are using images that are not theirs.
Legally, you cannot just use any image that looks good and fits your criteria. There are rules for copying content on the web.
The repercussions from using others’ copyrighted material can range from Cease and Desist letters to full blown lawsuits.
In general, anything that is posted online already is considered copyrighted material and is owned by the original person who posted that material.
Of course, there are exceptions to this rule and also fair-use laws, but in general, you cannot use somebody else’s material without their explicit, written permission.
When in doubt, don’t copy someone else’s work!
I have great news for you. There are options that exist that you can get free stock photos, seriously. These are not just photos you can use on your blog, many of these sites allow you to use the images commercially.
There are plenty of places on the web to find images that are completely free and legal to use. Some are Royalty Free and some are Creative Commons Free (0).
What does it mean to be Royalty Free?
To be clear, royalty free does not mean the image is free to use by anybody.
In reference to photos, a royalty is when you must pay somebody a set monetary amount or percent for using the content of that individual.
Royalty free photos is when you can use their intellectual property (a photo) for free without paying ongoing licensing fees. You simply pay the author of the photo one-time to use the photo or image and you are then able to use the photo or image as many times without having to pay additional license fees to the author.
Usually you can use the images for both personal and commercial use. Sometimes you can obtain a Royalty Free image that requires attribution or a note where the image came from.
What does it mean to be CC0?
On the other hand, these are photos that you can modify, distribute, and copy for free.
There is absolutely no attribution or license required for using the photos and all you have to do is simply post the material online.
Other Creative Commons licenses may require some attribution and it’s best to check out all the definitions at the Creative Commons website.
In general, these are the types of images you should be using for your content; ones that require no attribution. The list below have been hand picked and are really free stock photo sites.
The Best Free Stock Photo Sites
Pixabay is my all time favorite free stock image website. These images are beautiful and easy to navigate. All of the images are high quality and are not blurry. most of these images are completely free. The images on this website are released under the Creative Commons CCO policy. On this website you also will see images by Shutterstock, this is to help fund Pixabay.
Get 10 new photos every 10 days. All of these images are high quality.The Images from Unsplash are also related under the Creative Commons CCO policy. Images on this website are searchable and divided into three categories: Featured, New, and Collections.
One new high resolution photo everyday. Use their filters to find the best photo for your needs. Every photo on Magdeleine is handpicked to help provide high quality images. Make sure you filter by CC0 public domain images.
New photos added every week. All of the photos on Gratisography are taken by photographer Ryan McGuire. You have options to search by animals, nature, objects, people, urban, and whimsical. Click on the image you like and the high resolution image will download to your computer.
5. New Old Stock
Get vintage photos from public archives. Free of any known copyright restrictions. At the very least useable for personal and non-commercial use which includes medium sized articles, blog posts, and personal projects. New Old Stock also offers something called a pro photo pack which are edited and curated photos.
6. Public Domain Archive
New photos every week that are completely free. The images on Public Domain Archive are a collection of public domain images found on the web archived by Matt at Public Domain Archive. A combination of free images, and premium images for $10 a month.
7. Pickup Image
View the expansive collection of free high quality images. Feel free to modify, distribute, and copy all images on Pickup Image. Use search bar for custom search or search by tags, favorites or clipart selections
Search images using the search bar, or scroll through the images. Very simple website, where you can search, subscribe, or upload your own images. All images on Picography are free though the Creative Commons CC0 license. By Using images you agree to not claim any image as your own work. Enjoy pages of photos for your use.
All the images at SuperFamous are photographed by dutch photographer Folkert Gorter. Enjoy his collection of high resolution Nature images that have an abstract feel to them.
Get high quality free images under the CC0 license on Pexels. Search bar in top left corner to custom search for images. Or you can use the pre-selected categories under their Discover option.
11. Free Images
Over 388,086 free photos to choose from.All images are free as long as you follow their image license agreement. FreeImages is very easy to navigate, searchable, and pre-grouped categories of images to search from.
12. Stock Snap
View hundreds of free images that are uploaded weekly. All images at Stock Snap: are free under the Creative Commons CC0 license. Photos are hand picked from the internet and uploaded from their personal network of photographers.
13. Foodies Feed
High quality stock images of food Images on Foodies Feed are free to use but cannot be resold. There are over 400 food, or food related images for your use. All of the free images are in the “Food images” section. There is also a “premium” selection that is not free. Jakub is the owner of the website and takes all of the photos. This website started as a personal project for Jakub as a way to share the images that were sitting on his hard drive.
14. Life of Pix
A collection of free high resolution images with no copyright restrictions. New photos are added weekly. All images are free to use for personal and commercial use on Life of Pix.
15. PD Pics
Search over thousands of high resolution images. All of the photos on this website were taken by PD Pics in-house photographers. search using the Public Domain selected categories.
A free collection of travel photos that anyone can use. Images from Bucketlistly cannot be used for Commercial use: see the why free section to see what qualifies as commercial use. Free to use in blog posts, and desktop backgrounds.
17. Jay Mantri
Free images under the Creative Commons License CC0 to use as you would like. view Jay Mantri’s collection of beautiful landscaped images. View 7 new photos each week.
Free images even for commercial use provided to you by Kaboompics owner Karolina from Poland. All images are full resolution images with a wide variety to choose from. All Karolina asks is you can promote her website by providing a source link with the images from her site.
19. Negative Space
All Images from this website have no copyright restrictions under the creative Commons License. so can can use them how you want. Check into this website weekly as every week they have 20 new photos. Negative Space offers a variety of beautiful high resolution images.
All photos found on cupcake are under the Creative Commons License, which means you can use them whenever and however you want. The photographer and owner of Cupcake is Joans Wimmerström from Sweden.
21. 1 Million Free Pictures
View thousands of completely free photos taken by amateur photographers. Toper the owner of 1 Million Free Pictures and the photographer behind the images. He admits he is not a professional. His goal is to dedicate 100 images to this website for the next 30 years.
22. ISO Republic
View over 500 free and premium stock photos. Tom Eversley is the owner of ISO Republic as well as a photographer from England. If you don’t have time to visit their website, you can sign up to their email list and get new daily photos sent directly to your inbox.
23. Death to Stock Photo
Allie and David are the founders and photographers of Death to Stock Photo. They want to help brands create rich experiences with high quality images. They make it so easy that they will deliver new photos right to your inbox every month.
Images found on Raumrot are free for commercial use. All images found on Raumrot are hand picked to provide you with high quality images. Browse through photo sets, special sets, and image categories. View hundreds of vibrant photos to choose from.
Get free high quality photos with no copyright restrictions. Daniel Nanesou the owner of SplitShire and photographer had ten years worth of images that he captured. Two years ago he decided to make Splitshire as a way to share these images with the word.
Search millions of free photos from under the Creative Commons License on PhotoPin to use for your blogs and personal use. Simple search function where you can type the keyword you’re looking for. PhotoPin uses Flickr API to help get quicker search results.
27. Public Domain Pictures
A brief signup is required on Public Domain Pictures, however after you sign up you can search a large variety of amateur photos. If you want to use these images for commercial use it’s important to know that some photos do require a model or property release.
28. Stock Vault
29. Ancestry Images
This website has a collection of antique prints, maps, and portraits dating as far back as the 17th century. You are free to use images from Ancestry Images as long as it is not for commercial use. If you want to use an image for commercial use you can contact the owner of the website.
I hope these resources help and you now can also use images that are free of use and completely legal.
Did I miss any? If you have any other websites that you think I should include, please comment below!