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Free Stock Images - Where To Find Them

By Edited Jan 14, 2014 2 2

Photo Of A Yellow Car
Anyone who does any kind of creative work is always on the lookout for free stock images, whether it be photos, illustrations or clip-art. That is in fact why your reading this article, isn’t it. It use to be that the word “free” was always associated with “poor quality” but those days are long gone. You can now go to all kinds of stock photo sites and blogs and find a lot of quality images that are perfectly suited for use on the internet or in print.

It’s a good idea to at least check out such a site and bookmark it if you find anything you feel you could one day use. Always be sure to read over the rules and license of the image as the photographer may want you to credit him or her with the picture or at least provide a link to it (not a lot to ask for, really). With that out-of-the-way, let’s name some names.

Free Stock Images – Websites

• Imagebase: Photos found on this site are often available in a couple of different sizes and are free to download and use for personal or commercial reasons.

• Historical Stock Photos: This site offers free small to medium-sized vintage images that can be used for emails and personal websites. Lots of great old photos here.

• Insect Images: This is a website that is a project of the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. It offers thousands of images that are made available under a Creative Commons license. Commercial usage requires you to request permission from the photographer. To have access to some of the high-resolution versions you must sign up for a free membership. They require you to cite every photo you use in the following format: Photographer’s Name and Organization, Bugwood.org.

• Cepolina: A site that offers free stock images specializing in travel and nature. Has available several different resolutions for you to choose from.

• Morguefile: This has come to be one of my favorite

Cracked Egg In Bowl
sites, though you can’t always find what you need. They don’t require you to register in order to download photos and in most cases you don’t even have to name the photographer (even though most ask you to).

• Kave Wall Stock Photos: An interesting close-up and macro photo site that offers low to medium resolution images for free with an option to buy the hi-res versions.

• Photo Rogue: Let’s you request a certain type of picture and their volunteer photographers will actually try and go out and get it. They offer no guarantees, but if successful, the photo is put onto their gallery for everyone to see and use.

• Public Domain Photos: All photos are in the public domain and free to use for whatever purpose you see fit. They even have a small section dedicated to clip-art.

• NASA Images: For those who need some photos with a space theme, then this is the site to go to. Most of the images are not copyrighted and can be used freely for informational purposes (articles, textbooks, collections, etc.).

• National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Photo Library: This site is a true resource for anyone looking for images about our planet and its environment. A few of the things you can find are pictures related to weather, marine wildlife, space images, coastal seas, the South Pole and anything else dealing with the health of our planet. Most of the images are in the public domain and are completely free to use, although educational use is encouraged. You are required to give attribution to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration / Department of Commerce. In the rare case where a photographer is noted they want you to credit them and his or her organization as well.

• Nations Illustrated: Offers free stock images from all over the world for personal or non-commercial use.

• Every Stock Photo: This is actually a search engine for free photos. The results come from several different sources and are license-specific so you know what you’re getting before downloading.

• Wikimedia Commons: An established site that has literally millions of photos. The site allows anyone to contribute, so you may want to focus on the featured or quality images if you want a really good picture. Be sure to read the license and copyright information as some photographers expect attribution.

Free Stock Images – Blogs and Articles

This is a bit of a unique area to stray into as you are likely to find a wide range of product quality. Still, you don’t need to overlook this category because most people who offer free stock images through this method are doing so because they think it may help others. I’ve tried to list a few places that I think are worth paying a visit to, though there are literally thousands that exist.

Black Rose

Free Black and White Stock Photos: This is a blog that only has black and white photography on it. Its writer lets you use the photos any way you want, though he does ask for a link or bookmark (blogs like this can easily get lost without a little help from the people who use them). The pictures you see in this article came from his sites. As of this writing he has three photo blogs; just click on his photo to see the others.

• Bittbox: A great blog-like site that offers a lot of texture and background images for people to download and use for free. Check out his terms of use section for a very good explanation of the difference between free and copyright free.

• Vector 4 Free: Another blog-like site that offers vector art that is used in programs like Illustrator, Photoshop and Corel. All are free to use for personal reasons and some are free to use commercially (just read terms of use).

Royalty Free Dog Stock Illustrations: This is an article over on Squidoo that offers digital artwork for free use. I’m hoping the author continues adding images as they are definitely unique, albeit simple.

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Comments

Oct 2, 2011 8:41pm
Mulchkin
Very helpful information - thank you!
Mar 17, 2012 4:08pm
Nasmon
Hi InfoCenobite,
that's a really useful collection of image databases! Thank you :)

I'm one of the developers of Pixabay.com, a rather new resource of 20.000+ quality public domain images (and daily growing). We'd be really appreciate, if you took a look and *maybe* present Pixabay in your article.

Best, Simon
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