Images and photography has always been an integral part of design. Unfortunately, we’ve grown accustomed to seeing unrealistic stock images of people smiling at the camera while performing a task. Not only that, but it can get rather expensive if you’re constantly purchasing images from places like iStock, Shutterstock, or Adobe Stock.
And if you’ve ever tried searching for free stock images on the Internet, you probably know what a ridiculous hassle it can be. So, to help, I’ve put together my top ten resources to obtain high-quality free images.
Pixabay is a web designer’s dream. They have a large collection of free stock photos, vectors and illustrations available for use. Not only does this site offer an easy-to-use search feature, most images don’t require any attribution.
Offering a large collection of free high-resolution photos, Unsplash has become one the best sources for stock images. Their team combs through new submissions and features 10 new high-quality photos every 10 days. Though categories are not there, you can still search for images and use them as per Creative Commons Zero license terms. So, you are not required to attribute the source for using them.
The simplest site on this list, Picography is a scroll-through gallery of random shots offered by a handful of professional photographers. You can’t search it but this site is perfect for designers looking for evocative photos. What’s different about this site is the inclusion of more faces and event photography. You can also submit photos to be included in the gallery.
One of the most exhaustive directories of free images, FreeImages is the go-to resource for web designers starting new projects. With a superabundant quantity of photographs, this website has more than two dozen categories consist more than 388,000 photographs and illustrations. However, attribution is required for using these images.
IM FREE has a wide range of curated, high-quality photographs, all for commercial use. The website also offers an online website building tool.
Freepik works like an engine, which crawls many websites to find their free images. Therefore, it provides us free images by different websites, with some attribution is required. They also offer a large selection of vector graphics; most of which they create themselves.
Gratisography’s free image collection is incredible. Built by the talented Ryan McGuire, an artist and web designer, this site features some of the most evocative images on the web. New pictures are added weekly and are free of copyright restrictions.
This collection of totally free images is usable for both commercial and personal projects. Picjumbo adds new photos daily from a wide variety of categories including: abstract, fashion, nature, technology and much more.
Comprehensive vintage pictures join uber-modern scenes at the Public Domain Archive; an expansive online collection of free images. Many of these images contain striking symmetry and muted colours and are free to use. With new uploads every week, there’s always something new to sort through.
Finally, the last resource for free images in our list comes to you. Simply sign up for the email list and every month a photo pack of 10 photos (within a certain category) will be delivered to your inbox. The goal of Death to Stock is to bring you a variety of options in which to use for your mockups, blog posts or social media. They use their own license, however, which you can read on their webpage.
As you can see, there’s a growing number of fantastic resources for free images. These websites have become a blessing for designers, marketers and bloggers. So I think that these websites should be enough for you to find suitable free images to get your project started. If you’re not sure about what a certain attribution means, you can read about the main ones below.
Attribution and licenses explained
When you do a Google Images search, the resulting photos are not necessarily ones that you’re free to use. In most cases, the photos are still covered by photographers’ copyrights. If you’re looking for free images to use for a design and want to keep out of copyright troubles, you need to locate websites that explicitly define the copyright license of each image.
For all the sites listed above, the license is generally easy to find. There’s typically a description of the license on every page or at least a link to a description. However, here’s a breakdown of the license types you’re likely to find on image websites:
Creative Commons zero means that you can use the photos in any way you’d like, without asking permission.
Creative Commons with attribution means that you can use the photo in any way you want, so long as you credit the creator of the photo.
Attribution is simple: If you include a photo on one of a web page, add text that cites the photographer (“Photo by John Smith”) and be sure to include a link to his or her site, if there’s one.
Daniel is an Art Director and Graphic Designer with over a decade of experience in advertising and marketing in the Greater Toronto Area.