Where to find free images for your website or blog may be a challenging task if you don't know where to look. And even if you find such images, a million questions come to mind: are the images copyrighted? May I use them on a product I want to sell? Do I need to credit the photographer? In this MasterNewMedia guide I would like to help you by sharing a) some recommendations for all independent web publishers out there and b) a list of the best free and paid image libraries available on the Internet.
Photo credit: Darren Hester
Let's start with some tips:
- Do not look for your images on Google or other search engines. If you are a serious publisher you may want to rely on traditional stock photo libraries like iStockPhoto or on trustable authors and photographers who have made their work available on the Internet, either for free or for a fee. But you do not want, in any case, to browse the web and steal indiscriminately images from other websites.
- Always provide full credit and a link back for any image or photo you download from the Internet. Even if you purchased it. By giving credit you respect other people's work, you prove to be an ethical publisher and you also provide visibility and exposure to the producer of the image you are using.
- Pay greater attention to the license of the image you want to use. Depending on how the photographer released her work, you may not be able to use the image commercially, to make edits to it, to display the image more than a x number of times, and so on. Check carefully what you can and cannot do with your images.
- Distinguish between "free" and "royalty-free": these are two completely different animals. A free image is free to download and use for as long as you want and wherever the author allows you to. A royalty-free image instead is an image that you pay for once and then use where and when you like without spending an extra dime (unlike traditional copyrighted images where you pay royalties every single time you display an image.)
And now my updated collection of online image libraries, personally checked and reviewed:
PublicDomainPictures.net is an online image collection which offers over 23,000 "public domain" free photos that can be used both for personal and commercial purposes. The photos in this collection have been all uploaded and made available by the photographers themselves, something you may consider doing yourself.
All images on PublicDomainPictures.net are available in high-definition and JPG format. Resolution sizes vary from photo to photo. To save the pictures to your computer, just right-click (PC) / Ctrl-click (Mac) on them and select Save. You don't need to register to utilize the service.
Veezzle is a web-based image search engine where you can find free photos from various image directories to use on your personal and commercial projects. As Veezzle does not serve only free pictures, make sure the image you're about to download is free of copyrights by checking the license first. You don't need to register to use the search engine, but you may have to open a free account to download the picture of your choice on the original website where it belongs.
All photos on Veezzle are in HD and JPG format. Sizes vary from image to image.
Pixabay is an online repository where you can find free images in public domain that can be used for all your personal and commercial web projects. You can also upload your own photos so they can be freely distributed to the other users inside Pixabay community. Registration is not mandatory.
All photos on Pixabay are available in HD and JPG format. You can choose between two sizes of pictures: small and large (resolution in pixels vary from one image to the other).
Free Images Live
Free Images Live is an online library where you can browse a wide variety of categories and find free images to use in your blog or website for commercial and personal purposes. You don't have to register to utilize the service, but you have to include a link to Free Images Live to use the photos on your web projects.
All images on Free Images Live are in high-resolution, watermark free and in JPG format. You can right-click the picture to save it to your computer. Sizes may vary from photo to photo. Attribution links and forum codes are also available.
Stock Photos For Free
Stock Photos For Free is a free web-based service that offers a catalog of over 100,000 images organized in several categories. You can download an unlimited number of images completely for free of charge. To use Stock Photos For Free, you can either register or log in using your Facebook account.
All photos on Stock Photos For Free are in high-definition (1920px x 1080px) and JPG format.
The Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscript Library
The Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscript Library is a collection of images, textual documents, manuscripts, maps and works of art from Yale University that you can use for non-commercial purposes. You should check for copyright conditions before downloading any images and to make sure they are in the public domain. Registration is not mandatory.
All images on the Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscript Library are available in high-resolution and JPG format and sizes vary from picture to picture.
All You Can Stock
All You Can Stock is a web-based marketplace where you can upload and sell your own photos or buy the best images for your online projects. The service will pay you a royalty rate of 75% of the picture value each time someone downloads one of your images. All You Can Stock also features an area for free images on the website that you can download with no cost at all. Registration is mandatory.
All photos are available in JPG format and prices vary according to the image size. You can also customize the picture size and pay accordingly.
Cepolina is an online collection of images where you can find over 20.000 photos that you can download for free. You can browse through 1400 different categories or use the search engine to find a suitable picture for your commercial and personal projects. Registration is not mandatory to utilize the service.
All images in Cepolina are available in JPG format and in six different resolutions (64 X 48 px, 150 X 113 px, 640 X 480 px, 1024 X 1068 px, 1280 X 960 px and 1600 X 1200 px). To save the photos to your computer, just go through a simple right-click action.
LIFE Photo Archive
LIFE Photo Archive is a web-based initiative from LIFE magazine and Google that you can use to find over two millions of photographs dating back to the 1750s up to the present time. The service works as a search engine where you can find pictures by adding people's name or browsing through categories, such as events, sports and culture. You can print and use images for free in non-commercial projects. To have a full usage license on the images from LIFE Photo Archive, you must click on the link "Buy framed image" to check the picture purchase availability. All images are available on JPG format.
Ingimage is a web-based service that you can use to search for and download a great variety of images and vector graphics under a royalty-free license. Registration is free, but you need to add your credit card number or enter your Paypal account to finish the process. After validating your free account, Ingimage will grant you a 7-day trial period including 5 free downloads per day.
All photos on Ingimage are available in the JPEG format and in high resolution. Prices range from $99 (for ten images only) and $899 (for a 12-month subscription and 250 downloads/week).