Friday, March 22, 2013

40 Sites Where You Can Get Fabulous Free Photos

Fantasy - Pixabay
Updated 1/26/24

Whether you are blogging, writing articles, or designing a cover for your book, there is nothing that attracts readers more than a fetching image. Eye-catching images not only draw the reader’s attention, they establish a mood, set a tone, and express what you can’t say in words. A great image will also inspire a reader to linger, and to want to learn more about you and what you have written.

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.


1. Morguefile

With 400,000 images, Morguefile used to be my first stop when I was hunting for a photo. (Now it’s Pixabay.) You don’t need to jump through hoops to download, and 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 some 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
Free Images, formerly Stock.xchnge, has an enormous selection of good quality photos .

You can use all of their images for non-commercial purposes, but be sure to check the “restrictions” tab if you plan on using an image for a book cover or on anything else that you sell. The top photos — and they are always the pick of the litter — are not free.

© Jamie Wilson | Dreamstime Stock Photos
3. Dreamstime

Dreamstime has over a million images. It’s a little harder to search than either Pixabay or Pexels, 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 are required. The maximum number of copies allowed for free images is 10,000. Note: Not everything on this site is free.

4. Freerange

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
5. RGB Free Stock Photos

All images on RGB Stock Photos are free for personal and commercial use. (The terms of use for commercial purposes are that you need to contact the artist for written permission.)

Some of these photos are truly captivating. RGB also ranks its photographers, so you can search images by their most popular artists.

Image credit: pixabay

6. 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.)

7. U.S. Government

Did you know that all federal government images are freely available for reprinting? (That is because your tax dollars pay for them.) 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.

This site has thousands of free photos, many of which are truly spectacular. Not all are available for commercial use, but you can use any of them on your blog. At the bottom of every page there is a section for paid stock photos, so make sure to check.

9. Google

If you want to find an image quickly, 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.


Free Images is a site owned by Getty. It offers over 390,000 quality images and illustrations that can be used virtually without restriction. (Images cannot be used in a stand-alone manner for commercial purposes.)

Registration is required for downloads, but you can simply save an image to your computer if you want to skip that step

11. Pexels

All photos on Pexels are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. This means the pictures are completely free to be used for any legal purpose. The pictures are free for personal and even for commercial use.

You can modify, copy and distribute the photos without asking for permission or setting a link to the source.

Attribution is not required.

12. Every Stock Photo is a search engine for stock photos - 29,368,214 of them. You can search by category, by top photos, and by popular photographers. You have to sign up, but it's free.

This site is not as easy to use as pixabay, and the search function is a little cumbersome. But if you are looking for something very specific, chances are you will find it here.

Photo: NASA

13. Free Stock Photos

This site has a limited set of photos, mostly place and nature pics, and all have the site name prominently stamped on the photo. (They may all have been taken by one person.)

You may not find what you are looking for here, but their side bar has an impressive list of other sites that offer free photos, some of which I have not seen elsewhere.

14. Kave Wall

Kave Wall is best used for textures, some of which are truly glorious.

All of their images are free under Creative Commons, which means you can copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format, remix, transform, and build upon the material as long as you supply attribution. Full resolution of their photos is not free.

See their license agreement here.

15. Stock Vault

This site is a grab bag. Some of the images are unusual, artistic even. Others are mundane to the extreme. They have a wide selection, so it is worth hunting around as you will not find most of these images elsewhere. They also feature vector images.

16. Flickr

Millions of flickr photos are available under Creative Common licensing. Under Creative Commons you can use, alter, or reproduce work online. Some flickr users require attribution, some only allow non-commercial use.

There is a convenient key on the right side bar that explains the various restrictions. Photos are organized according to the key, which makes it easy to find the category that best suits your needs.

17. Unsplash

This site gives you access to high-resolution photos. You have to register, but it's free. In addition to site downloads, you can also request to have photos delivered to your inbox.

The advantage of using a high-resolution image is that a graphic designer can easily modify it to make a clean, professional-looking final product.

All photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero which means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.

18. New York Public Library

NYPL has a collection of more than 672,000 images in the public domain.

This site is a living database with new materials added every day, featuring prints, photographs, maps, manuscripts, streaming video, and more. Collections are organized according to theme. You can also search for a specific image, or theme.

Click HERE to enter the NYPL collection.

19. Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Met has released more than 375,000 images that you can use for free. These are high-resolution images that can be used for any purpose. There are no copyright restrictions. (Creative Commons Zero designation.) The museum will partner with Creative Commons, the Wikimedia community, Artstor, the Digital Public Library of America, and Pinterest, which will allow the museum to promote its collection around the world.

20. J. Paul Getty Open Content Program

Getty’s Open Content Program is an initiative to make available, without restrictions, as many of the Getty’s digital resources as possible. The Getty Trust and its operating programs — the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation — as well as their departments, including Getty Publications and the Research Library at the Getty Research Institute, are not affiliated with Getty Images. The Open Content Program is an initiative of the Getty Trust and is not connected in any way with Getty Images.

You can search or browse the Getty’s open content images on Getty Search Gateway.

21. Pikwizard

Pikwizard offers thousands of high quality photos in many searchable categories. They have a generous licensing agreement, allowing users the right to utilize Pikwizard photos on blogs, cover art, business cards and brochures, textbooks, and more. You can even edit the photos online, right from their site. (That's Machu Picchu in the photo. I've been there twice. It's almost as impressive in real life.)


Aggregation sites - These sites feature several free photo sites.

The Stocks

All The Free Stock

Stock Up


  1. Great post, and thanks for sharing your thoughts on these sites! I hope you don't mind my linking to your post in my blog : ) Linking is the highest form of flattery...?

  2. Check out also for thousands of public domain photos you can use personally or commercially without any restrictions

  3. Like them all but number 7 and 8 are my favorite :) FreeDigitalPhotos is my all number one. Pixabay ( is amazing too plus they are public domain but I always put attribution because the photos are simply fabulous for public domain :)

  4. Brilliant -- thank you!! From the bottom of my blogging, self-publishing heart!

  5. You mentioned US Gov, but also think specifically of the Library of Congress, military services. Also state and city gov'ts, corporations.

  6. The have free pictures of various regions of Brazil.

  7. Thanks for all your work for this fantastic list! I look forward to checking out pixabay.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...