14 Best Places To Get Free Images For Your WebsiteTuesday, June 17, 2014
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again—an image can make or break your design.
Having access to plenty of good, high-quality images is crucial to building a successful web presence. But if you've ever checked out the prices on commercial photography, you know it can get a little pricey.
Fortunately, there are many free images available online. You just have to know which images you can use without violating any copyright laws.
There are two types of images you can use free of charge:
- Images in the public domain.
- Images licensed under a Creative Commons license (as long as you follow the terms of the license).
I am not an attorney. Therefore, any images you acquire from the resources listed below should be used at your own discretion.
Always check the license before using a free image on your website or blog to make sure you are in compliance. When in doubt, check with an attorney.
Public Domain Images
Public domain images are for anyone to use in any way they please, even for commercial purposes. No attribution is required.
Where to find public domain images:
This is my absolute favorite public domain image resource. The images are extremely high-quality, and the site is easy to navigate.
To find public domain images on Bing Images, type in your query and click to search. When the results page pulls up, there will be a list of filter options across the top. Click “License” and select “Public domain.”
This photo blog adds 10 new images (always public domain) every 10 days. Use this website to find beautiful background images. (Hint: Since the images aren’t searchable, click Archive to browse more easily.)
This is another great resource for beautiful background images. All of the images are provided free of charge by photographer Daniel Nanescu.
A collection of high-quality images that you can browse by category.
Cool overlays, interesting composition and quirky subject matter—this isn’t your mom’s stock photography.
Creative Commons Licensed Images
Creative Commons Licenses are copyright licenses that anyone can apply to their work. These six licenses allow people to share their work free of charge, while still protecting their rights as the original artist.
The least restrictive license requires only that people reusing the image provide attribution (give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made). The most restrictive license prevents people from using an image for commercial purposes, does not allow changes to be made, and requires attribution.
Visit creativecommons.org/licenses for descriptions of each of the six licenses.
Where to find Creative Commons-licensed images:
We love Fotopedia because it allows you to filter your image search to “labeled for commercial reuse with modification”—very handy if you need an image for an advertisement.
After entering your query into Google Images, click the “Search tools” link at the top of the page. This will drop down a set of filters, including one for “Usage rights.”
IMPORTANT: Be sure to click through to the image’s page to check its license!
This image search engine makes it extremely easy to check license restrictions.
Like Wikipedia, but for images (and videos and sound clips).
In November 2013, Getty launched a new feature that allows people to embed its stock photos for non-commercial purposes onto their websites, blogs and social media posts, totally free of charge. But be aware—Getty does attach a photo credit to your image.
Simply select to view an image, then click the icon that looks like this [</>] to get the embed code.
Need the official portrait of the President, a picture of Yosemite National Park, or a shot of Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon? The U.S. government website provides tons of resources for free public domain and licensed images.
Check out this collection of photography by Dutch interaction designer Folkert Gorter. His beautiful landscapes and interesting close-ups would work great as large background images.
I hope you’ll find these free image resources to be useful as you publish new blog and social media posts, and as you update your website.
Remember—ALWAYS check the license for any image you use on your website and blog. Be careful of restrictions on commercial use, and look for instructions on providing attribution. And when in doubt, talk to an attorney.
Once you get the hang of the rules, finding free, high-quality images is a piece of cake!
Speaking of attribution...
I want to thank Mike Cushing of 352 for sharing several of these resources with us in his blog post.