Every now and then I get hits to my website from Google Images. Now, I don’t mind new visitors, but I get the feeling that they don’t really care about what I’m writing here, they’re only searching for the photos they need. And from my experience so far, most of these visitors still believe in the old legend: “if it’s on the internet and I can grab it, then it must be free”. Which is untrue.
I get it, sometimes you don’t have a budget, or your project is non commercial, so it wouldn’t make sense to invest in photography, but you still need it. Or you’re just making a test. Or, and I hope it’s not the case, you just don’t want to pay for someone else’s work, even if you’re expecting to be paid for yours. Whatever your reasons for searching free images, there are solutions.
The bad news is that all my images are copyrighted and none of them are free. Continuing on this idea, I’m usually a very friendly person, but I can turn merciless when I find my pictures misused. It happened a few times and I’ve always won.
The good news is that you don’t need to go in the Google Images gamble if you need free photos for your projects. There are millions of free photos on the internet, if you know how to search for them or where to find them.
You wouldn’t want to get a copyright infringement letter one day, from a lawyer who’s representing a photographer, asking for a few thousand dollars for a photo you found on the internet and, just like that, decided to use it. It’s unpleasant, and it happened so many times so far. Most of the times, the lawyers win, because that’s their job.
So I came up with this list of websites where you can find free photos. They’re not just sources of free images, they’re safe sources. This means that, if you download one of their free photos and use it in your project, you, most probably, won’t have any problem. Ever. The list is in alphabetical order, not a top.
Please check the terms and license details for each photo you download, some images may have restrictions for certain usages, or may require attribution. It’s always nice to provide a credit line, but not always required.
Free photos websites:
1. Dreamstime free photos section – tens of thousands of free photos and public domain images, categorized and searchable. Attribution required for some images, if specified.
2. Freeimages.com (former sxc.hu) – hundreds of thousands of free photos, categorized and searchable.
3. Freephotosbank.com – plenty of free stock images, categorized and searchable. Attribution required.
4. Iso republic – categorized and searchable. Attribution not required, but appreciated.
5. Morguefile – not categorized, but searchable. Yet, you will have to search a lot to find what you need. Attribution required if the photos are used without being modified.
6. Publicdomainarchive.com – public domain photos, not very well categorized, and with not so useful search. Yet, they’re free. Attribution not required.
7. Splitshire – free photos, categorized and searchable.
8. Stockima – Categorized and searchable free stock photos, new free images every week. Attribution required.
9. Superfamous – not searchable or categorized, but still free images. Attribution required.
10. Unsplash – free “do whatever you want” photos (public domain). Searchable, but not very well categorized. Attribution not required.