It is really really important for website owners and bloggers to keep one thing in mind. Never ever just use photos and images which you simply find at Google Image Search. Most photographs, images and graphics you will find there are the property of someone. Unless they have given explicit permission to you to reuse it, or have clearly licensed the image in a way that permits you to use it to, just don’t. So where to get images for websites? In this post, I will round up all of the best places to find free images for websites, all legal and above board.
Thanks to some generous people who do make their art available for anyone to use, you are not limited to using only your own photos and drawings. Sometimes there are limitations to how you can use free images for websites, for instance, you might need to credit the person who owns the image and link or two. This is known as attribution.
To keep it simple, I have broken this down into two main groups of free images for websites:
- Images which do not need attribution
- Images which do need attribution
Best Places to Find Free Images for Websites, that do not need attribution
There is an ever increasing number of websites which catalogue Public Domain images. These images are often licensed under the Creative Commons CC0 licence. Whoever took the photo or created the graphic has waived all of his or her rights to the image. Their motivation is not a financial one, but rather they get their reward by sharing their images with anyone who likes them and wants to use them. No attribution is required (but of course can always be optionally included, like I have above).
Not all of the sites use the CC0 license, some have created their own which is either the same or somewhat similar. Mostly you can use the images however you like, except for selling them. Passing them off as your own work is also not allowed (or polite). Please be sure to check the licensing conditions of each site/image, and be sure you comply with them.
Below you can find a list of my favourite free image sites. All of the images shown were found at the corresponding sites. In most cases, I simply searched for ‘camera’.
Pixabay has been my favourite of all of the best places to find free images for websites for a long time. It is the place I go to first, and many times I can find what I am looking for.
For some strange reason, I only recently discovered Unsplash, even though they have been around for more than 5 years. I really like the results I get when searching for free images at Unsplash. I feel that this might become my first go-to site over time (it is already the second place I look).
Pexels also has a huge collection of free images, with several hundred thousand images available. You can find an image for most occaisions here.
FreeImages lets you explore and download from their library of around 300000 free images.The images are well organized into categories or can be searched using keywords.
StockVault.net also has a sizable library of content to choose from. At the time of writing there are over 127000.
If you are looking for something quirky, Gratisography is the one to check, claiming to be the world’s quirkiest collection of free high-resolution stock images. The site was founded and created by Ryan McGuire. By day Ryan is a graphic and web designer and by night an he is an experimental visual artist. Is that you in the photo Ryan?
GoodFreePhotos.com has a collection of around 25000 free stock photos, which are very well categorised. This makes it easy to find what you are looking for and saves time hunting through photos which are sometimes (on other sites) badly keyworded.
While this one does not have as many images as some of the others, Public Domain Pictures reports having almost a quarter of a million free images available for free download. Definitely worth a check to see if they have what you are looking for.
SplitShare was created to give life to photos that would otherwise probably never be seen. They are the personal collection of the site owner. Right now there are just around 100 free images for download, but heck, the photos are very good. The images are all very high resolution, and clearly the work of someone who knows which way to point the camera.
StockSnap.io is building a community of people who make their work available for free download and use on websites. Once a quality check has been made, photographers may upload their images to the site and in return get a free link to their website.
Stokpic.com is another free image site, where someone (in this case Ed Gregory) has simply decided to let others use their photos for free. The collection is reasonably sized and growing. The pictures are high-resolution.
Best Places to Find Free Images for Websites, that do require attribution
If you don’t find what you are looking for at any of the sites listed above, then do not fear. There are many more millions of images that you can use for free on your website. As long as you are willing to place a caption attributing the work to its owner, and to place a link.
These images are usually licensed under one or other of Creative Commons other licenses. There are quite a few different licence types, and depending which license the image you want to use is under, certain limitations may apply. Many images, for example, cannot be used commercially, but as long as you want to use them for non-commercial purposes, you may. Other restrictions which you might come across are, for example, whether you are allowed to modify the image, or not.
In all cases, the Creative Commons licenses are very clearly worded, so all you need to do it read the license and follow the rules it imposes.
- The first place I would recommend to look is Wikimedia Commons. This is a collection of over 50 million media files (and growing). This is my go-to site to search for images of specific places or products, which you often do not find in the Free Stock Libraries above.
- My second recommendation is Creative Commons own Search the Commons page.
Both of these sites make it very easy to copy/paste the required attribution links, so no specific technical or web design skills should be required.
Here is an example image, with the attribution required by the license. Strangely, it is very similar to one of the images above and I actually prefer this one!
Hopefully, you will have found my list useful, and you know the best places to find free images for websites. I never stop looking for new sites for downloading free images as I find them really useful, and would really like to thank every photographer who allows their art to be used for free. Of course, you will always find a much wider range of images available at sites like iStock but their prices can be prohibitive for hobbyist bloggers, or those just starting out.