There is a saying that “Content is King”. It supposedly comes from the title of a 1996 essay written by Bill Gates and published on the Microsoft website. He went on to say that “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet”.
It’s a fact that if the quality of the content is poor the audience will pretty quickly leave, if it’s good they will stay. But what is content? Well it’s pretty much everything on your web page, blog post or indeed any form of media that is communicating with people.
This includes text, graphics, audio clips, videos and of course images. The human brain actually processes visual data better than any other with images processed 60,000 times faster than text. Over 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. So what options do you have if you want to add quality images to your content?
Well there are a few stock photo sites where you can find pretty much any image you are every likely to need. Sites like iStock by Getty Images and Shutterstock are two of the most established. However the images on these sites come at a cost, often quite substantial depending on how you want to use them.
So what options do you have? Well the great news is that there are some free alternatives. In this article we are going to look at 10 of the best sites for free images. Images that you can use for your blog, website or just about anything.
Free Stock Images And Their Use
What is really important to ensure before you use any image from any source is that you have the right to do so. One of the big mistakes people make is thinking that Royalty Free photos are free to use. This is not the case! Royalty Free is actually a type of license used by agencies to sell stock images.
You pay a fee for the image that you want and can then use it as often as you like without paying a fee for each time you use it. What is important to check is that the image you want to use falls under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. This means you can copy, amend and use the photo as you see fit, even for commercial purposes without having to ask permission or provide attribution.
I have made sure that at the time of writing my list of 10 of the best sites for free images all offer a CC0 or equivalent license. However it is important that you read each sites terms and conditions carefully as these can change over time.
At the end of the day it is your responsibility to check that you are legally allowed to use the photo in the manner you wish. Ok so now we know the legal stuff let’s have a look at 10 of the best sites for free images.
First on the list is Unsplash. I really love Unsplash, they have some amazing unique photos that in their own words are “bought to you by the world’s most generous community of photographers”.
There are now over a million high-resolution photos on Unsplash from over 50,000 contributors. They are my go to site when I first look to source and image and I am very rarely disappointed. You can find UNSPLASH HERE and check out their collection as well their current licence details.
Pixabay is probably the best known of all of the free image sites. They have over 1 million high quality images available on their site. In their FAQ’s they call themselves “a vibrant community of creatives, sharing copyright free images and videos”. However that’s not all as they also have free vectors and illustrations.
Being popular you do often find that some images have been quite widely used but if you search enough you can still find the odd gems that have hardly been downloaded. All in all Pixabay is a great resource and another of my go to sites. You can find PIXABAY HERE and check out their collection as well their current licence details.
Looking for something completely different then Gratisography should be your first stop. They may not have the numbers of images that Pixabay and Unspalsh can boast but what they do have are unique photos that you just won’t fine anywhere else. In fact Gratisography say it better than I could.
“If you’re looking for something better, something quirky, beautiful, arresting. Images that make your audience’s heart beat just a little faster then you’re in the right place.” So if you’re looking for quirky, creative, free hi-resolution images then you need to bookmark Gratisography. You can find GRATISOGRAPHY HERE and check out their collection as well their current licence details.
Rawpixel offer a free and a paid version with of course the paid version giving more options. However there is still a tremendous variety of free options, in fact Rawpixel claim to have one of the most diverse image collections available.
But it’s not just photos, there are also vectors, PSD mock-ups and public domain illustrations. Another free image resource you should have bookmarked. You can find RAWPIXEL HERE and check out their collection as well their current licence details.
Another site that offers both a free and paid version. Although they have a library of over 1 million images and videos they are of course not all available to free members. However there is still a significant number of really great high resolution images to choose from.
The only negative with Pikwizard is that when you search the results are a mix of both free and paid for images. It’s easy to see which is which as you can only download the free ones if you are not a paid member. You can find PIKWIZARD HERE and check out their collection as well their current licence details.
Looking for food photos and wishing there was a resource that had them all in one place? Well there is because Foodiesfeed is a food only image site. As they say in their about us section “Foodiesfeed is a resource of awesome naturally looking food photos that are completely free to download”.
A young site, Foodiesfeed is growing daily so it’s another great free image resource to bookmark and come back to when you need some amazing high-resolution images of food. The only negative of the site is that it makes you hungry looking at it! You can find FOODIESFEED HERE and check out their collection as well their current licence details.
Pexels is another great site and all of their photos are available for free, can be modified and no attribution is needed (although it’s always nice). Although it doesn’t have as large a library as Pixabay or Unsplash what it does have is some great quality high-resolution free images.
Their collection is really well organised and tagged and in my opinion is one of the easiest sites to navigate and find what you are looking for. You can find PEXELS HERE and check out their collection as well their current licence details.
Yet another great free resource of not only images but graphics and vector files as well. There are currently over 136,000 free stock photos available for download with hundreds of new images added every week.
The site is really well organised by category with a great search facility and is yet another resource to help you find that perfect image. You can find STOCKVAULT HERE and check out their collection as well their current licence details.
Full of what Reshot call “non-stocky images” that are free to use Reshot are another great free image resource. Their aim was to give photographers a beautiful platform to share a sampling of their best work for free use in creative projects and that’s is something they have done.
With a focus on quality over quantity they don’t have as many mages as sites like Pixabay and Unsplash but what they do have is some amazing free to use high-resolution images. You can find RESHOT HERE and check out their collection as well their current licence details.
A smaller independent site that was started by photographer and graphic designer Karolina. With just over 12,000 unique images Kaboompics is now one of the most popular sites for free lifestyle and interior design photos and is really popular with specialized bloggers.
You can find KABOOMPICS HERE and check out their collection as well their current licence details.
Best Sites For Free Images- Let’s Sum It Up
So there you have it, 10 of the best sites for free images. We really are very lucky to have such a diverse range of brilliant free images to choose from. A couple of things that I would recommend. If possible it’s nice to give attribution. After all in many cases the photographer has allowed free use of their photo to try and build their profile.
The easiest way to say thank you is to add attribution. If you can take your own photos then why not use them, that way they are absolutely guaranteed unique and free to use! And finally do bear in mind that you can’t just use photos from anywhere.
I see far too many people find an image on a site, save it and use it themselves. Without permission this really is a no no and could get you in to some serious trouble. All of these are topics for another day so I’ll leave it there.
I really hope you find this list useful. If you are just starting a website or blog be sure to check out my posts, start blogging for beginners, the importance of keyword research and what’s the ideal length blog post.
Do let me know if you try out any of the sites or if there any other good ones I should know about. You can leave a message in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.