20 Ways to Source Images Online for Free

In part 1 of this series I discussed the ‘6 Do’s and Don’ts of Using an Artist’s Work.’ But, if you need to source an image for your website, blog, book, etc. and aren’t quite up to the task of approaching an artist, here are 20 more ways to find images you can use online for free.

Definitions:

  • Royalty Free – a royalty is a fee paid for the use of a piece of art, royalty free = free to use
  • Attribution Free – when using an image an artist has made, you often need to give credit to that artist by listing their name and possibly their website, or whatever information they ask you to list, attribution free = no citing your sources
  • High Resolution – big images, good enough quality for large header image, printing, zooming into, etc.
  • Open Content – images that are free to use, but fall under a variety of other categories – some require attribution or license listing, instructions are typically listed next to the image download button

Note:

Before using images from any of these websites make sure to read and understand the copyright information on the website as a whole or on each individual image. Some sourcing rules vary per image, especially regarding personal v. commercial use and attributions. More on copyright in my next post.

Image Websites:

  1. Pixabay – royalty and attribution free vector images, illustrations and photography
  2. Unsplash – high resolution, royalty free, gorgeous artist made photographs, some require attribution – searchable online, but can also be used as a subscription service where they email 10 photos to you each week
  3. openclipart – just like the clipart that used to be in the Microsoft Office Suite, these are little illustrations and drawings, royalty and attribution free
  4. Pexels – beautiful, royalty and attribution free photography
  5. Wikimedia Commons – open content images, videos and audio files sorted by category
  6. Flickr Creative Commons – royalty free, user uploaded images, sorted by license type (licenses determine how an image must be attributed, whether the user can edit the image, etc.)
  7. freerange – high quality, hand selected, royalty free images – you must have an account to download
  8. Little Visuals – very similar to Unsplash – high quality, royalty free images, subscribe to have 7 sent to your inbox weekly or go online to download the 7 each week
  9. New Old Stock – copyright free, vintage photos from public archives
  10. Visual Hunt – royalty free, high quality photos and illustrations – licences vary
  11. Super Famous – royalty free, attribution required – these images are very pretty, but not searchable, a great database for textures
  12. Startup Stock – royalty free technology related photographs
  13. Travel Coffee Book – royalty and attribution free travel photographs
  14. Gratisography – an impressive range of royalty free images all from one photographer
  15. refe – technology and travel based royalty and attribution free photographs
  16. Jay Mantri – high resolution, royalty and attribution free photographs
  17. Magdeleine – a new, free, high resolution photo daily
  18. Moveast – images from Portugal by one photographer free to use
  19. Barn images – a compilation of the work of 2 photographers, royalty free, attribution requested, with new images added each weekday – some photos on the site do require payment, so make sure to stay in the free section if that’s what you’re after
  20. The Stocks – a compilation of quite a few royalty free image sites all in one place, be careful, some listed do charge per image

More!

A few more sites added since the original posting.

  1. NYPL Digital Collections – New York Public Library Scans of images, maps, etc. all free for use
  2. Stock Up – an index of images from a variety of other free stock photo sites
  3. DesignerPics – royalty and attribution free, high resolution photographs

But don’t forget, while stock photos are great, sourcing an image straight from an artist, helps support the artist’s career and guarantees you get something original and the artist can grant you exclusivity. This last part can be especially important when creating book and album covers or advertisements. When using stock photos, there’s always the chance of selecting the same one someone else did.

Is there another site you’d add to the list? Let me know in a comment below.

Which site is your favorite?

15 thoughts on “20 Ways to Source Images Online for Free

  1. Hi Jennifer Nichole Wells!

    Awesome post, really useful! Have you heard about Rawpixel?

    You’ve probably seen our images all over the place. We’re the leading stock photo contributor in the world. We’ve just launched our website where we give away the best free design resources out there.

    We’d be stoked if you could add us to this list. Check us out on http://www.rawpixel.com. Looking forward to you joining our community of creatives.

    BE INSPIRED. BE RAW.
    Nica

    Like

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