Did you know that there are SO MANY places to find royalty free images? Me neither – how exciting! Before we rush headlong into it though, let’s have a look at the definitions of what the different terms mean:
Attribution: These images are free to use so long as you give credit to the photographer or artist.
Commercial Use: These images are royalty-free images which can be used to any type of business venture.
Creative Commons: We can use these images for free and the artist has waived their rights to the work. BUT, always review the terms before publishing these images. * Since writing this article, I was taken to task and given guidance by one of my readers (thank you, for that sir). He had the following to say about Creative Commons Licence:
“There are seven levels of creative commons license, not all available for commercial use.
The four which are available for commercial use with various limitations are CC0, CCby, CCby-sa and CCbynd.
CC0 is the most frequently used as it doesn’t require any attribution, but the others may give bloggers some useful images, with various attribution.
The full rights are detailed in the wiki doc
Membership: Some sites do charge for membership, so be on the lookout for this. Not all sites charge but you do need to sign up as a member to benefit from the royalty free images
Public Domain: Any images created in the USA before 1923 is part of the public domain. What this means is that you are allowed to copy, distribute or modify such images without obtaining permission.
Royalty-Free: You are allowed to use intellectual property without paying royalties or license fees
Factors To Take Into Consideration
Royalty Free is not necessarily FREE – this may mean you do not pay royalties or license fees but there may be membership or other fees involved. Keep this in mind. I was not aware of the difference until I started writing this article.
What Copyright Is
According to Wikipedia: “Copyright is a legal right, existing in many countries, that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights to determine whether, and under what conditions, this original work may be used by others. This is usually only for a limited time.” Wikipedia
This is vitally important to my fellow online marketers. Notice that it is a legal issue. Please, please avoid making use of images that are not free – even if it does not say “copyright” – if in doubt, DO NOT USE THEM. (This also applies to infographics, videos, music, art, writing etc)
Getting caught up in a copyright suit can cause your beautiful business to fold. There are so many awesome free options available. Not only are they cost-free, but they are also royalty-free, no copyright and no attribution.
Common Courtesy & Sometimes Unstated Rules
Many of the royalty-free sites still have conditions attached to them, be mindful of that, read their terms and inform yourself. Some of these things are also just common courtesy, think about how you would feel if your hard work was plagiarized. Let’s have a look at some things we might expect to encounter:
- The photos are available for you to use but are not available to be redistributed in any way. This means you may not create a business selling the images to others, either on a website, or offline.
- The images are still the intellectual property of their owners, so you only have permission to use them in your blogs, website, desktop background etc
It is only good manners to give credit wherever possible.
NB: If you are not in what I consider to be mainstream media, and by that, I mean anything to do with nudity, pornography, violence etc. It is highly unlikely that all the artists showcasing and generously sharing their work will be happy to be associated with what you do.
Stock Photos Free Images – Places to Find Royalty FREE Images
The images are royalty free, however, you will be required to sign up for a membership with Adobe Stock (sorry folks, this one is not entirely free). This company offers subscriptions ranging from $29.99 (for 10 images per month) to $199.99 (for 750 standard images per month). They also offer a 1-month free trial. AdobeStockoffers literally thousands of incredible images, videos, and graphics which they source from contributing creatives.
At AllTheFreeStock you will find free curated images, videos, music and icons all in one location. This content is licensed under Creative Commons CCO, and there is no need to register.
At Ancestry Images you will find a free image archive containing historical prints, maps, and artifact photos.
Launched in 2015 by two Latvian photographers, namely Igor Trepeshchenok and Roman Drits, Barn Images offers pics that are free to use, no attribution needed.
This organization describes themselves as “the royalty-free photo agency”. No login is required and the photos can be used however you like. This gallery is continually increasing thanks to its community of amateur photographers who want nothing more than to see their images on the internet.
Launched in 2004, Bigstockphoto became one of the Internets foremost royalty-free image providers. In 2010, it was acquired by Shutterstock, and remains popular due to having in the region of 47 million stock images, videos, and vectors available. NB, royalty free but they do charge, for example, monthly plans start at $79/month.
As the name suggests, these images are brought to you by Shopify, the images fall under the Creative Commons Zero license. Again, this means you are welcome to use the photos for free for any purpose
All the image offered on Cupcake have been licensed under the Creative Commons license CC0. This means they can be used for free. In addition, you are permitted to copy, update, and distribute without permission.
Once you have registered, Death to Stock Photo sends you free monthly photos for commercial use, blog posts, social accounts, and mock-ups. As they use their own license, it is advisable for you to double-check the terms, please.
Joshua John, a web designer, and developer, experienced challenges with finding high-quality and free images so he started this site to help business owners who are in the same boat. The images are free for personal and commercial use.
Membership is required for Dreamstime and I see that there are paid for options in addition to free – be aware of this going into the site. It looks amazing so I expect you will find exceptional images here, just be aware of the paid for option offered too.
Vibrant Software owns and manages this site, and it is a popular portal for the stock photography community. The images come from many sources and are license-specific. It is important that you view the photo’s license which can be done by clicking on the license icon visible either below or to the left of photos.
This is a niche image provider where you can expect to find high-resolution food pictures for free, Suitable for those in the food and related industries.
Images free from copyright which can be used for commercial or personal use at absolutely no cost. These photos are all free and can be used on websites and presentations. There are no copyright restrictions at all. You do not even need to register with the site.
Here you will find free to use stock photos which cover a broad range: animals, buildings, fire, careers and jobs, textures, technology, water and more. They request that you do not use their images in conjunction with anything offensive. I notice their last additions were in 2017 so not the most recent, still a great source though.
The images offered here are free with attribution and are in smaller dimensions. Should you need larger images or to remove the attribution, you will be required to purchase the images – the prices are not unreasonable though.
Here you will find a large searchable gallery, containing more than 300,000 images. Unfortunately the there is a lengthy sign-up process, but the membership is free.
Offering 18 098 images across more than 2 969 topics, Free A Large Photo’s is well worth a look and see. Individual use of their images is free. Commercial use is paid for.
Here you will have access to an impressive collection of free photos. you can download the images without signing up for a membership. These images cannot be modified and crediting the photographer is mandatory.
With Free Range Stock, you have access to free highly resolution and quality stock images from their in-house photographers. You are required to register – though registration is for free.
Freestock offers a broad range of high-quality images which have been released under Creative Commons CCO. Here is a snippet of how they describe their offering: “source of photos that are fresh, up-to-date and versatile in style, so that they are fit for everybody’s everyday use as well as for more complex and specified projects.” I am a really visual person and could spend a long time on this site, it is beautiful.
One of the best known sites for high quality premium images. Getty Images have an Embed Viewer feature that allows for free downloads if you’re a non-commercial website or blog.
I love their description: “Quirky, creative, always free”. What fun! High resolution pictures which are free to use as you please and new ones are added weekly. Ryan McGuire of Bells Design captured the high resolution images found on Gratisography.
At ImageFree you will need to become a registered user and then will have access to free and paid image options. They do not appear to have an extensive library of images though, on the site, there is mention of 226 free images. The people behind ImageFree are Pálmi Guðmundsson and Hákon Ágústsson who have also started ImageRee.com where all images are on a paid for basis.
A great range of free to use images which cover a multitude of niches – business, sports, health care, people, education, food. Beautiful free images, free icons and free templates
At ISO Republic you will find both free and premium stock photos on offer. These are from featured photographers. NB You do need to double check the license requirements for each photo before using them.
At Large Photos, you will find a great source of free high quality photos in any subject and genre. These are ideal for commercial projects,
LibreShot images have all been shot by one photographer. These are free for commercial use as they are licensed under Creative Commons CCO. There is no requirement for attribution either.
This resource was created by the LEEROY creative agency. Life of Pix offers free high resolution images, no copyright restrictions.
This story will pull at your heartstrings. A young man named Nic, started and owned this site. Sadly he passed away unexpectedly in 2013. As a result, there are new updates but the images are available in Nic’s memory. All of these images have been released under Creative Commons CCO license, public domain dedication. Nic’s loved ones request that you make a small donation to Hand on Heart Charity.
This is a collection of high resolution photos, mainly of computers, work spaces, and nature, by Jeffrey Betts. All of Jeffrey Betts photos are released under Creative Commons CC0
Michael Connors started Morguefile in 1996 which makes this one of the oldest free images sites available. Searching for hi res photos for your design, illustration or other needs? Look no further, Morguefile has over 350K free reference images for you. Images can be accessed after completion of a quick registration, crediting the photographer when possible too. Absolutely free – great for illustrators, art directors, instructors etc.
Negative Space provides beautiful free images for personal and commercial use. All the photos are high resolution and no attribution is necessary. You can expect to find a wide range of images including: business, food, people and technology. These images are released under Creative Commons CCO and are searchable, plus they can be sorted by copy space, category and colour.
This is where you will find vintage photos from the public archives. As a result, they are free of any known copyright restrictions.
Beautiful free photos for download. I love the way they have laid their site out, you can search by clicking on alphabetically set out words from “Animals, Architecture, Art…” going all the way to Z. Just gorgeous images.
Thousands of searchable and excellent quality images which are free for commercial use with no attribution needed. Creative Commons CCI. New images are added monthly and no membership is required.
Photogen images are completely free. You can download and use their stock photos free for personal or commercial use
Completely free photos for personal and commercial use. This collection contains images from a variety of categories from technology to nature to fashion. New photos are added frequently.
Dave Meier and other talented photographers are featured at Picography. You can expect to find really beautiful images on this site and they are released under Creative Commons CC0.
Enormous selection of great free to use, high resolution images. You do not need to sign up for a membership either. It has been said that if there is an image released under Creative Commons, you can expect to find it on Pixabay.
100% free images. New stock photos added weekly. They describe their images as “Breathtaking” and indeed they are!
The images are explicitly placed in the public domain. All public domain images from this site are available for personal and commercial use. Again, a wide range of exquisite images.
All the images on this website are public domain. They are available for you to use for any purpose. 5,K free photos and 8K free clipart. Wide range of beautiful images.
Public Domain Pictures
Public Domain Pictures offers a variety of free public domain images. A quick sign up is required and they offer a premium download option if you need larger pictures.
As one of the world’s leading creators of stock images, Rawpixel is where you connect with other creatives to share ideas, inspire one another and collaborate. The images are all free to users but they request that you make a donation to Hope for Children.
You can expect to be blown away by approximately 125 million royalty free images, vectors, illustrations, videos and music tracks. Shutterstock is a leading resource for royalty free images. BUT, there is payment for access to their offerings. You can expect to be set back $29.99 per month for 10 images to $199.99 per month for 750 images.
You will find a variety of free stock photos here, which are created by the site’s owners. All the images are under Creative Commons CCO.
Beautiful, high quality photos are available for commercial and personal use, free of charge.
Stick Stock Photo offer royalty-free images from categories such as architecture, health, holidays, and travel. No registration is required, but please double check the attribution requirements.
All you need do is register to access Stocksy’s collection of incredible royalty-free stock images and videos. Payment is required for use. Stockysy does not offer a subscription based pricing, their prices start at $15 for small images up to $125 for extra large, and then from $75 for 720p videos and up to $400 for ungraded originals.
This platform offers free stock photos for commercial use with one rule only, and that is no redistribution is allowed.
This platform has a large selection of images which is updated weekly. Searching for images which are relevant for your site are easy. It also tracks your downloads and make the process much easier. These images fall under the Creative Commons license, which enables you to copy, modify and distribute any photo they have on the site.
Stockvault is a cool option too. No registration is required and new content is added on a daily basis. This is a stock photo sharing website which gives the opportunity for photographers, designers, and students to share their photographs, graphics, and image files. Registration isn’t required and new content is added daily.
Stock Photos For Free offer photos are from all around the world. The images are available on a royalty-free license, and this allows them to used on commercial projects.
This site was started in 2001 by a chap called Jim who was struggling to find high quality free images. They’ve sorted the photo’s by colours – different way of searching for what you need, clever. The images are contributed by a variety of photographers, you can contribute too if photography is your thing. Royalty and cost free photographs available in this free stock photographic library. Online photo share.
Gorgeous free high-resolution photo’s covering a broad range of subject matter. Photos available on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons. You may not use the images from Unsplash to create a similar or competing service and permission will be required to use images for logos etc.
Before I sign off …
As you can see, this is a pretty extensive list of suppliers – and there are more to add! If you have any additions you’d like me to make, please drop me a comment below. I love hearing from my readers, so please let me know if this has added value to your world, if not, why not etc.
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