Where to find free images for commercial or any other use…

A list to Upvote, Update and Bookmark

Grab a free image and do as you please without tripping over fine print. You’ll find articles across the web about a rash of sites each with their own license requirements – this list is the opposite. What you get here is speed.

Royalty free, no copyright restrictions, no attribution required

  • There’s no need to debate if your use is personal or commercial.
  • Simplify record-keeping, you can just go ahead and publish without an attribution. Some of these sites say they appreciate an attribution but they stress that it’s not a requirement. (Though it’s considered courtesy to give a photo-credit when the photographer is known).
  • There’s a wide range of styles – from vintage or traditional to modern. In the list I use the phrase ‘Modern styles’ to mean the soft images full of atmosphere popular in Apple adverts. You may prefer traditional styles as these are often easier to adapt to fit your style.
  • The selection is huge. You can choose from sites with large collections to small personal sites with niche offerings. And of course there’s no need to confine yourself to one source.

Whether your chosen image is free or premium, it makes sense to modify stock imagery. You’ll be creating something unique that represents your brand. This can be a quick process too (please see the link at the end of the article for some easy suggestions). It may be tempting to take the lazy route and use a stock image ‘as is’… but you’ll see that some well-known sites on this list stipulate that their images should be modified.

Free-images

Free-images

38 sites – click the arrow to see the next page on the list
Visit list.ly to Add an item

Creative Commons

Most of these free images are published under Creative Commons public domain deed CC0. Each site differs slightly so check the terms on the individual site if in doubt, especially if your use strays from conventional ground.
Downloading these images doesn’t transfer the ownership to you, so you can’t sell them or publish them as your own work.

Straightforward uses:
  • Copy or modify the image.
  • Distribute the modified image. These images should not be resold or redistributed as they are. You can of course use them as raw material for your own creations which you can go on to sell.
  • Clearly these images shouldn’t be used for any illicit or immoral purpose.
Special uses to check with each individual site – these are permissible on many sites but you should make sure:
  • If the subject matter contains trademarks or recognisable people these may have separate rights. If in doubt refer to the terms of the particular site. It’s possible that a model release may be on file.
  • Incorporating in a trademark or logo.
  • Printing on canvas or items such as t-shirts, postcards, mugs, etc. (offered on sites such as CafePress.
  • Using in templates for resale or distribution.
  • Redistributing a collection of images.

How I use free images

I only use free images. If you find yourself searching for the same subjects time after time it makes sense to create a folder to keep these images at your fingertips. For instance, I often require images to illustrate ‘social media’ so I save more images than needed for my current post in order to have one on hand for the next.

This approach may be the best idea for sites offering smaller collections. Rather than consult small sites each time you need an image, it may be quicker to search through their entire collection once for everything you think you’ll ever need.

Of course if you go direct to the site each time you’ll discover the most up-to-date images. This may be an important consideration if you’re searching for a subject such as the latest technology.

The most convenient method for me is to bookmark this page – it’s dynamic, the best sites get voted to the top. When I click on the bookmark the page opens in the sidebar (in Firefox), it stays open and I click through the sites till I find the right image. Try it out – the thumbnails don’t look tiny there. I hope it’s convenient for you too!

With free images you work fast. There’s no messing about with terms and conditions. When you have the incentive to plan for future posts free images let you build up your own collection. This takes organisation to a new level. And from the outset you know you’re search will be adding value with an image customised to your brand.

Donald

Title:
Where to find free images for commercial or any other use…
Description:
Grab free images and do as you please without getting tangled in fine print. Build a collection and create a customised image for your brand.
Author:
  • Chape P Trainer

    Thanks

    • Hi, Chape, glad you found it useful. Thanks for commenting.

      • Chape P Trainer

        Really useful, Donald. Excllent post, also added crosswebideas to my bookmarks :)

        • Thanks again, Chape :)

  • Hey, Donald,

    I appreciate you coming up with this resource of image sites – Had heard of several but a few are new to me.

    Had always used free only images for years, until I learned about Tin Eye. I did my own video tutorial on why I use only unique and original images on my site now.

    Will definitely use these sources you shared for possible backgrounds or parts to new images I create.

    Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend. :-)

    ˜Carol

    • Good to see you, Carol. I’m pleased this list could come in handy.

      I keep seeing articles listing a dozen or so sites with lots of different licensing requirements. There was too much information for me to take in. So I like it this way, a long list of no requirements.

      I hadn’t heard of Tin Eye but it sounds like you’ve found what works for you. I think the key is find what works and don’t chop and change!

      Have a good weekend, bye.

      • Hey! :-)

        Here’s my short video on it, http://www.carolamato.com/five-things-you-need-to-know-about-images/ you can take the link out if you like. Tin Eye is not another source for images but a reverse image search engine so you can see where on the Internet your image is placed.

        When I saw how many dozens (and hundreds) of sites my images were on, I was shocked and made a decision to treat my images as they are viewed by search engines, as content. So, I decided to always make the unique and original and give them the Tin Eye test. Have to be zero, to pass and make it on my site…

        Hope to clarify. :-)

        • Hi, again! That was quick. I’ve checked out TinEye and I’m surprised at how thorough it is.

          I used the featured image for this post, which I knew no one would have copied. TinEye managed to come up with pages of similar text-style images using that font, which really impressed me.

          I make most of my images on this site pinnable, I want them to spread! I put my url on most of them, but I know you’ll say it should be all…

          Thanks for explaining, it’s the first reverse image search engine I’ve used. Bye :)

  • HI, thanks for great list! If you want, you can check out my website with own photos with creative commons license (even commercial): http://freepix.eu/

    • Thanks, Martin, glad you like the list. Your site is varied with many unique images however the license requires an attribution to be included, so I won’t add the site to the above list as it contains sites without any restrictions whatsoever. Thanks, again.

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