Fortunately, finding beautiful images has never been easier – or cheaper. You can, of course, purchase stock photos from any number of services. However, if you are on a limited budget, you can now get great photos for free. These are some of my favorite sites for finding fantastic free images.
Morguefile used to be my first stop when I was hunting for a photo. (Now it's pixabay.) The quality of the images has declined recently, but you don’t need to jump through hoops to download. No registration is required.
You are allowed to copy, distribute, transmit and adapt images. Attribution is not required. Like most other sources for free photos,
Morguefile prohibits use of any photo in a stand alone manner. However, unlike other sites, you are free to use photos for commercial purposes (e.g. the cover of your book).
|Spilled Milk by Alecsandro Andrade de Melo|
Stock.xchnge also hosts a blog, tutorials and other perks for photographers. Be careful when searching! The top line of photos - and they are always the pick of the litter - are not free.
|© Jamie Wilson | Dreamstime Stock Photos|
Dreamstime has over 790,000 images. It’s a little harder to search than either Morguefile or Stock.xchnge, and registration is required. But once you figure out how to use this site, there are riches to be had. Attribution and a link back is required.
The maximum number of copies allowed for free images is 10,000.
One advantage of this site is that there are various size options for photographs. Commercial usage is allowed! (Check their FAQs.)
Freerange has an eclectic mix of photos, from abstract paint spatters to squirrels. They post their newest photos on the first page, which makes for an interesting introduction to the site. You can search by category, and by most popular and newest. You must register to download. Commercial use is not allowed.
Freerange shares revenue from ads on its site with photographers who submit their photos, which is a nice gesture.
|Alien Worlds by micromoth|
Some of these photos are truly captivating. RGB also ranks its photographers, so you can search images by their most popular artists.
123RF has over 20,000,000 amazing royalty-free stock photos. That's right. Twenty million. Not all of them are free. So you have to make sure you click on "Free Stock Images" on their home page. All of the free photos are low resolution (72 dpi) and small, which is perfect for blogs. There is a trick to using 123RF.
The free photos have an expiration date, so under the search bar, click on "Browse all free images." That will take you to a page that has images that are about to expire. (Trust me, you will want all of them.) The site requires registration, which is simple to do - and well worth it.
8. Free Digital Photos
|Image Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Apolonia|
In order to download the image without the watermark, you have to agree to their terms and conditions. A photo credit is required.
|Image credit: pixabay|
Pixabay is a German-based service with over 150,000 creative commons photos.
You will find some truly spectacular, professional looking photos on this site, in several different sizes.
From the site: "To the extent possible under law, uploaders of Pixabay have waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to these Images. You are free to adapt and use the Images for commercial purposes without attributing the original author or source. Although absolutely not required, a link back to Pixabay would be nice."
(Many thanks to Thora York for suggesting this great site.)
Did you know that all images associated with the National Institutes of Health (as well as other Federal institutions) are freely available for reprinting? To be honest, the majority of these images are about as interesting as a tree stump, but among the dull, uninspiring images that are the hallmark of government publications, there is an occasional gem.
It all depends on what you are looking for.
12. Faces of Books
This is a project begun by Scriggler, a reading and writing community. Scriggler collects high resolution photos and posts them in batches of 6. The photos are large files, so there are also collages of each batch for easier viewing. Scriggler only asks that you credit the photographer.
Last but not least, you can take the google shortcut.
Go to google images. Search for the image you want (e.g. burger and fries, football, etc.). When the images pop up, click on "search tools" on the nav bar at the top of the page. On the nav bar that pops up, click "usage rights." Then click on the "reuse" category that applies to you. (The top category, "Not filtered by license," means the image may be protected by copyright.)
Make sure you check on the source before you use the image. Some of the images that appear on a "reuse" search have watermarks, which means they are protected by copyright.
Note: Getty Images has made some (not all) of its images free, providing you use their source code. I tried it, and didn't like the result. It was also cumbersome. I had to change the size of the image in the HTML code, and it messed up the wrap function of the text, making it impossible to embed. Here is an article that explains the process, if you want to give it a whirl.