Images are an important part of creating engaging content. In fact, according to Jeff Bullas, posts or articles with images get 94% more views! But finding great stock photos can either be costly or time-consuming.
Websites like Getty Images® have beautifully composed photos for sale. However, these rights-managed images can be very expensive depending on your usage needs. Getty does offer some royalty-free images for embedding on a blog or website or social media using their “embedded viewer” provided your site and site content conforms to their terms and conditions.
Stock photo site 123rf.com has similarly allowed certain images to be downloaded for free for use on blogs and in PowerPoint presentations. Essentially the site asks contributors to “donate’ their images for increased exposure; the images are available for a period of time and eventually expire. The quality of images on 123rf can be hit or miss with contributors whose photography and videography skills vary.
For the last several years, we have been compiling a list of stock photo sites containing free, high-resolution images available for personal and commercial use, many of which are offered under a new Creative Commons Zero license. CC0 indicates all copyrights have been waived by the owner. This is not the same as public domain mark, however, where an image has been released, to the public, often due to the passage of time.
To help you find images, we’ve shared our ten favorites:
This site has a search feature and all photos are free from copyright restrictions and no attribution is required. However, photos are curated by StockSnap from around the web and can often be found on other stock sites such as PicJumbo. https://stocksnap.io/
Startup Stock offers a limited collection of hi-resolution photos which depict possible scenes from fictional start-up companies. The images are licensed under the CC0 license. http://startupstockphotos.com/
Life of Pix.
Life of Pix has beautiful photos and an onsite search to help you find the perfect image. There are no copyright restrictions and new photos are added weekly. The photos are made by LEEROY Creative Agency in Montreal and are donated by their network of photographers. http://www.lifeofpix.com/
Pexels has a nice online search and a good size library. Images are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero license and are free for personal and commercial use. Their one restriction is that identifiable people may not appear in a bad light or way that they may find offensive. https://www.pexels.com/
This site offers free, high-resolution pictures for any project. The photos are all by Ryan McGuire. Many of these images are more conceptual or whimsical and may not be suited to every business. However, they are certainly different than what is found on other sites and could make your blog stand out. http://www.gratisography.com/
Unsplash is the project of Arthur Weill and has been a resource for bloggers for awhile. The original site, https://unsplash.com/, has no search available. You can subscribe to receive 10 new photos each day delivered to your email; this doesn’t necessarily give you the photos you need when you need them. There is a search in beta which utilizes tags or combinations of tags to help you find relevant images which makes this site more useful. http://www.arthurweill.fr/Unsplash/en
Vecteezy offers vector art such as illustrations, icons and patterns. Artist’s share their free art and resources on Vecteezy to gain exposure or to get feedback. Artists can license work with various Creative Commons licenses. Make sure you read the rights associated with any item downloaded from this site. http://www.vecteezy.com/
This site offers high resolution food and beverage imagery. The images are provided free of use for personal and commercial purposes and no attribution is required though the artist does appreciate it. In additional to the free photos, the artist does offer Premium photo packages as well. https://foodiesfeed.com
The Amazing Pattern Library.
This project by Tim Holman and Claudio Guglieri compiles patterns shared by designers to use freely in designs. http://thepatternlibrary.com/
We’ve been using this one for a long time, mostly because in the beginning, it was one of the few sites offering free images for commercial use. Though the images on this site are generally less professional, it provides much greater variety than other stock photo sites which curate from the same sources. As such, mor becomes our fall-back resource. http://morguefile.com
The question that is often asked; “Can’t I just a use a Google image search to find what I’m looking for?” Sure. But chances are the images are copyrighted. Just because something is posted online or makes it into a search engine result does not mean it isn’t still copyright protected. And simply adding an attribution doesn’t necessarily protect you from legal action. The author/artist must give you permission to share or distribute the work.
For more on finding images, CC licenses, copyright and proper attribution, download Finding and Using Images, our resource to help you find images for your content marketing needs.
Have a favorite stock photo site to share? Please add it to the comments below.