Is this a familiar scenario? You’ve invested hours penning the perfect blog post only to get shanghai’ed by the search for the perfect image. A great photo can enhance your web content by giving the reader a point of reference as to the subject of your post. So finding the right photo is important. But what if you don’t have a budget for stock photography? Is there a way to get free photos for your blog and use them legally?
Yep! In the past couple of years a plethora of websites have emerged that allow bloggers to download high resolution photos for free. These sites offer images that are protected under the Creative Commons (CC) license, meaning they are legally free for anyone to use on websites and blogs (with some conditions; there’s an explanation at the end of this post).
I’ve investigated a lot of them and the ones I like best are in the list below. It’s fun to browse around and download photos that I may want to use later and that helps me to avoid mad rush to find the perfect photo before a deadline. You should be able to easily fill those empty spots on your blog posts from these sites. Keep the list handy! Did I miss any good ones? Let me know.
Free Photos For Your Blog:
Canva is a fantastic tool that not only gives you access to images (both free and paid) but also allows you to easily design high-quality, professional looking graphics for your blog and social media. This all-in-one tool includes fantastic features that enable non-photoshop people (like me) to create beautiful graphics — photo editing, tons of fonts, icons and shapes and pre-made graphical layouts. The free version has loads of value but you can also upgrade to their paid version which gives you custom branding, team collaboration, etc. If you’re not using Canva yet, check it out right now.
PhotoPin uses the Flickr API and searches creative commons photos to use for your blog. Search millions of Creative Commons photos from Flickr and add them to your blog posts easily. This is one of my favorites because of the clean interface and great editing.
Wikimedia Commons is a database of 20 million media files to which anyone can contribute. Every photo is in the public domain and freely-licensed to everyone. There are fantastic vintage photos in this collection.
If you’re new to blogging you may not realize that simply finding an image on Google and using it on your blog is a no-no. But Google has an advanced search function where you can search only for images that are legal to use.
This site is owned by istockphoto.com, which is owned by photo giant Getty Images. Here is a vast selection of images (they state they have over 407,000!). Do a search and you’ll have a ton of choices. Keep in mind that the first row of results will be from istockphoto and those are not free. Skip them and keep looking. Sign-up is required.
Pixabay is a repository for stunning pubic domain pictures, vectors, drawings and free photos. Any image on the site can be used for personal or commercial use without attribution. No signup required.
With UnSplash you don’t search for images, instead the site owners choose for you. Every ten days they add ten photos to the site. They are all free to use and the quality is superb. Subscribe and they’ll send the ten images to your email box. Save none or save them all for future use.
Another cool site is DeathToTheStockPhoto.com. Like UnSplash you can’t perform a search, but here you can’t even browse! If you sign up every month youÕll receive amazing photos in your inbox. Their tagline: “We aim to be just like coffee for the modern creative” so I think they mean “addictive.”
The largest photo-sharing site in the world is Yahoo’s Flickr. To use photos from Flickr for free and without attribution, employ the advanced search function. and click “only search within Creative Commons-licensed content.”
Every one of the gorgeous photos on this site is creative commons with commercial use, so you can use them on anything. The only caveat is that you must give the photographer credit. I think that’s fair!
This site with the suspicious-sounding name (it’s a reference to the old days of media where a page or “flat” of a publication was put in a “morgue file” after it was used). is a great repository of high resolutions images and they’re all completely free.
RGBStock has a huge number of high-quality free stock photos and free graphics for illustrations, wallpapers and backgrounds. In order to use images from this site you must register.
All the photos on StockPhotos.io are available to use as long as you give proper credit to the photographer. The images are super creative and high-resolution. They are pulled from other sites such as Flickr. You must register to use photos from this site.
This crowdsourced library includes millions of royalty-free images, vectors, illustrations and video footage clips. This site allows you to download three preselected images for free per week, but you must purchase credits first in order to do so.
The images on this site are free for anyone to use in just about any way they’d like. The site owner states that you cannot redistribute them or sell them.
This is another site where registration is necessary to use the images. StockVault’s sole purpose is to collect and archive medium and high-resolution photographs that designers and students can share and use for their personal and non-commercial design work.
You can use these images for anything you want without attribution. The site owner politely asks if you would consider giving attribution and a link to the site. They also have free PowerPoint templates!
Getty claims to be the largest repository of high-quality photographs in the world (80 million images to date). The photo quality is usually superb but the prices have been the highest in the niche. In March 2014, Getty made almost its entire collection available to use for free. A Getty image can now be used legally for free if, and only if, it is embedded using a code that is supplied with the photo on their website. The code embeds the photo in an iframe that includes the Getty logo and links. In a recent blog, HubSpot explains:
“An iframe is a type of code that takes a piece of content that lives on another website and puts it on your site, and the site that hosts the code has complete control over what displays on your site because Getty controls the iframe code, they can pretty much do whatever they want with it to track your data outside of accessing your servers or website host.”
It may be tempting, but the advice I got from my developer is to stay away from using free Getty Images.
What is the Creative Commons License?
Literally hundreds of millions of pieces of work (not just photos but songs, video and more) are available under the terms of the Creative Commons license, and more are added every day.
The Creative Commons licenses relates to the name of copyright licenses released by Creative Commons, a United State nonprofit corporation. Everybody can put their own creations under these licenses.
There are four basic license conditions. A simple overview of these four:
- Attribution (by): Allow others to copy, distribute, display and perform the work and evolved versions of it. They must give the original creator credit for the work.
- Noncommercial (nc): Allow others to copy, distribute, display and perform the work and evolved version of it. They are not allowed to make money with it.
- No Derivative Works (nd): Allow others to copy, distribute, display and perform the work. They are not allowed to change the work into something else.
- Share Alike (sa): Allow others to distribute evolved works only when they use the same license.
It is possible to combine the license elements. For example, a combination of the first and fourth is called “CC by-sa.” This stands for “Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike.” With this license, other people must give credit to the original creator, and when they make something new with the work they have to give it the “CC by-sa” license.
As of the current versions, all Creative Commons licenses allow the “core right” to redistribute a work for non-commercial purposes without modification.
This text is from http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_Commons_licenses
For more information please see: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/
Photo attribution: Wikipedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Photographer.jpg