Finding quality images for your website or blog is one thing, but finding quality images that are also free is an entirely different conversation, especially if you don’t want to be sued.
The sad truth is that if you are using images that you don’t own, and are not following the license associated with that image, you are walking a fine and dangerous line. I’ve heard horror stories from a few bloggers who were sued because they used an image without paying for it, sometimes on a blog post that was several years old. They pursued several avenues, but ultimately ended up forking over the fine. It’s a hard lesson to learn, and one that I hope you never have to go through.
So, to help you on your journey to find free, high quality images; here is a list of 10 fresh sites that provide just that. Each site is unique and some have different terms. Make sure you always research an images license before using it, and when in doubt, provide credit!
Unsplash is perhaps my favorite on this list. The quality of the photos is extremely impressive, and I would have otherwise expected to pay for these images. The images to choose from range from landscapes, architecture, technology, wildlife and much more. Each photo is obviously the product of a talented photographer, and we get to reap the benefits!
Unsplash is 100%. You can literally take the images and do whatever you want with them, no questions asked. This is as good as it gets. Unsplash provides 10 new photos every 10 days. I only wish there was more sites like this!
Gratisography is a project by Ryan McGuire that has some really nice photos that are completely free of copyright restrictions. New photos are added each week.
Little Visuals is an ironic name, as this site gives you some massive images. I’m talking 5000 pixels and wider. It looks like they stick with nature and wildlife themed photos, but all the images are very high quality. Little Visuals provides 7 new images every 7 days (although I don’t believe they’ve updated the site in a while). Subscribe with your email address to get the images sent to your inbox.
Little Visuals uses the Creative Commons license, and allows you to use the images in any way you want.
PicJumbo is a newer free photo site, but it’s just as good as the others. Images are free to download and do with as you please, restriction free. New images are added daily, so make sure you check back frequently!
MorgueFile is a larger site, and does offer paid images from iStock and others, but there are lots of quality free photoes. The MorgueFile license allows you to copy, distribute, transmit the work and to adapt the work, without attribution. The only thing you are prohibited from doing is using the image in a stand alone manner.
New Old Stock is an interesting site that features…you guessed it…vintage photos. These vintage photos are from public archives and are free of any known copyright restrictions – so go nuts! This is my go-to site if I’m working on a project that needs an old time appeal.
WeFunction is a design blog written by Liam Mckay, who claims he isn’t much of a photographer, but the free images he posts are awesome. Liam posts small packs of free images that are completely and utterly restriction free. I certainly hope this is something that Liam continues!
SuperFamous posts photos under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. You can use them in any way you’d like, you just have to provide credit. It appears to be another site that isn’t updated frequently or has been abandoned, but there is a large amount of really stunning photos. The photographer clearly likes taking pictures from planes!
Death to the Stock Photo is a site dedicated to providing you unique and high quality photos, or exactly the opposite of what they consider a “stock” photo. Death to the Stock Photo has their own license, but what it comes down to is unlimited and unrestricted use without required attribution.
In order to take advantage of what they have to offer, you need to sign up with your email address. After doing so, you’ll get great photos emailed to you from different artists. It’s like a birthday present in your inbox.
How could any free photo list be complete without mentioning Flickr? Flickr is a massive community of photographers and designers, and utilizes Creative Commons licenses, which just means you need to credit the image author, and adhere to any other limitations the author requests. Check the license for the photo before using it!
I’ve linked you to a search for “nature” images, but you can literally run any search you want, there is a nearly endless stockpile of high quality images at your disposal.
There are plenty of sites out there that offer royalty-free or Creative Commons licenses for images, but so many of these sites have the “stock” feel to them. Stock is boring, so when I look for images for a blog post or for a new project these are the sites I look to first. There are some amazing artists and photographers out there offering the fruits of their labor for free.
When In Doubt, Give Credit
If you are ever confused by a license, or aren’t sure what license a site or author uses – just give credit to the author or ask for permission. It’s important to protect yourself.
So what do you think? Did I miss any great free photo sites? Let me know in the comments below.
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