As a blogger, I regularly need new images that I can use for my posts. Even though I usually write tutorials style blog posts with lots of screenshots that describe the process to be followed, I still need high-quality images for the featured images.
In my opinion, the images are mandatory for an excellent blog post and are equally as important as the text.
A media-rich post will keep the user’s interest for a longer time, and it’s more likely to get more shares on the social networks.
Besides the visual advantage, adding images to your posts also has an SEO benefit if you add keywords to the alt tag of your images.
If you also create some nice infographics for your posts, that can take your traffic to a new level. Infographics are usually the images that are shared the most and will usually get you backlinks and free traffic.
According to Hubspot, the infographics are liked and shared on the social networks three times more than any other type of content.
Can I use any image?
Don’t listen to the people that tell you that can use every image you find using Google Images.
Even though Google image has a search filter that allows you to search only images released under a Creative Commons license, they cannot give you a guarantee that all the images are correctly licensed.
If you use an image that is not released under a license that allows you to use it for free, you risk being sued.
And if you think you’ll get away only with paying a few hundred dollars, you are very wrong. I’ve even heard of cases when people had to pay some astronomical amounts after the company that had the copyrights for an image has sued them and won the lawsuit.
Therefore, if you get sued for using a copyrighted image, you can end up having to pay thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars.
Fortunately, many photographers release a part of their work under a free license that allows you to use these photos even for commercial purposes.
In this post, I will share with you a list of sites where you can find copyright free images for download. You are permitted to use these images both for personal usage, but also for commercial purposes.
I highly recommend you to read the licenses and terms displayed for each of these sites before downloading and using the listed images. Every site included on my list has its own terms and conditions and I’m not responsible for any changes in their licensing terms.
Some of these sites might also require you to place a link back to the site or to mention the author of the photo.
Buy stock photos
Buying stock photos is the safest route, but the companies that sell these images usually ask you to pay a monthly or yearly subscription which can be quite expensive, especially for someone who is just starting his blog.
Even though the majority of the images found on the free image sharing sites are typically safe to use, there are still some images uploaded by people that don’t actually own the copyrights of these photos.
For instance, you can see how someone got a copyright fine from a law firm for using an image from Pixabay, photo which was supposedly released under CC0 license.
And I’ve also heard other rumors that some companies upload their work on the free image sharing sites only to find the people that use these images afterward and sue them for big amounts of money (don’t know if these are entirely true though).
Are the free images safe to use?
Question from Pixabay’s forum.
The answer of Simon Steinberger, the founder of Pixabay:
My purpose is not to make you completely paranoid about using the free images that are available on these websites.
I just want to stress out that you should be very careful what images you are using. My advice is to always check the person who has uploaded the photo, check the photo upload date, and how many other photos that person has on that website.
I usually check if the person that has uploaded the photo has a trustworthy profile, whether he/she is a photographer, if has a real profile photo, a website, etc.
I secondly check the photo upload date. If a photo has been uploaded several years ago, that’s probably safe to use. Otherwise, the image would have probably been removed by now.
If the photo passes the first two criteria, I like to check the other images uploaded by the same author. The more images he has, the better.
What images are safe to use?
If you want to go the safe route or if you don’t mind paying for high-quality images, I recommend you Depositphotos (affiliate link) as a source for high-quality stock photos.
You can take a look at what Depositphotos has to offer below.
Use the search function to search for images, the pagination to navigate through the results and you can zoom the images if you place your mouse cursor over the thumbnails.
Make sure that you check the licensing terms of every image you use, regardless if it’s a premium stock photo or a free image.
Where to find copyright free images?
Don’t use Google images for finding images for personal or commercial use.
Instead, go to one of the websites that offer these images released under a free license.
This is not 100% safe, but it’s definitely safer than using any image you found on Google Images.
Unsplash is the first site where I go when I need an image.
This website is an impressive collection of high-resolution photos that you can use for anything you want.
Most of the photos illustrate landscapes and cities, but there are also photos of humans and objects.
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.
The website is very simple to navigate, making extremely easy to find your desired images with the help of the search form from the top-left side of the page.
You can also sort the photos by freshness or by collections, which are a kind of categories.
Pixabay is another fantastic source of copyright-free images. It has one of the largest databases of free photos, vectors, illustrations, and short videos, totaling over 750,000 items. All the items present on Pixabay are added by individual photographers and artists.
The topic of the photos varies very much and if you can’t find your desired picture elsewhere, you can surely find it on Pixabay.
To look for a specific photo, you can browse the categories or use the search for at the top of the website. The photos are displayed in the grid style of Google Images website, which makes the image search process very familiar.
The images on Pixabay are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero license.
Gratisography is another excellent website for finding images that I can use for my blog posts or my other online projects.
All the pictures found on Gratisography were made by Ryan McGuire, a professional photographer.
Most of the listed photos have a funny tint or the “weird” element, along with some nice effects. I personally like very much Ryan McGuire’s unique photographing art style.
The pictures capture people, including the photographer himself, nature, animals, objects, cities, and other awesome situations.
All the photos available for download on Gratisography are licensed as stated on the website, under “similar terms as Creative Commons Zero”, with a few I could call “moral restrictions”.
The website has a simplistic design, with a few categories at the top and a search form just above the categories.
Pexels is another exceptional website for finding images to use for your personal or commercial projects.
The photos are uploaded by different uploaders and you can find pictures in various categories and niches.
The photos are released under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license.
Sometimes I need some images that can be combined with other pictures to obtain the perfect image for my posts. I often download an image that I use as the background image and then use a clipart image for the main idea.
When I’m in need of a clipart image, the first place where I look for it is OpenClipart.org.
OpenClipart has a huge collection of clipart images that can be used for free and commercial projects. At the time I write this article, according to the stats counter displayed on the website, there is a total of 111041 images.
Most of the images can be downloaded in multiple formats and 3 different sizes (big, medium and small). The majority of the images are also available in the .svg format, which is great if you intend to edit your photos in Adobe Illustrator.
The images on OpenClipart are available under the Creative Commons Zero 1.0 Public Domain License.
Lifeofpix is another amazing source for finding high-quality images with no copyright restrictions for personal and commercial use.
New photos are added every day and you can download and use all of them completely free of charge.
The majority of the images are uploaded by Leeroy advertising agency and its network of contributors (as stated on the website), but they also allow the visitors to submit photos.
As an addition to Lifeofpix, they have also created lifeofvids.com, which is a collection of free videos that you can use for your projects.
The images are released under the Creative Commons Zero license.
The photos on Flickr are uploaded by people all around the world and Flickr is probably the largest database of images.
While NOT all the images on Flickr can be used for personal or commercial purposes, there are a good amount of photos released under a Creative Commons license that you can edit and use both for personal and commercial projects.
To find these photos, you need to use Flickr’s advanced search feature and switch the “Any License” option to the license type that best suits your need (depending on how and where you want to use the images).
Wikimedia Commons is the version of Wikipedia for images and other media types.
At the time I write this post, Wikimedia has a collection of 42,842,854 freely usable media files (images, sounds and videos). The images available on Wikimedia Commons are realistic photos and are available in different sizes and formats.
While you can use the images for free, for some photos, they require you to add an attribution to the license under which the photo is released and to the author.
An impressive collection of over 350,000 free stock photos to choose from.
According to the license displayed on the website, you are free to adapt, use for commercial purposes and accompany the photos with other content. You are not allowed to claim the ownership of the photos and if you don’t make any modifications to the photos (use the photos in the original form), you have to give credits to the photographer.
Realgraphy is a project by Janos Virag from Hungary. At the time I write this post, you can find over 970 authentic photos, all released under the CC0 license.
You can find high-resolution photos of animals, nature, places, people, sport, etc. and you can download and use all of them completely free of charge.
There are more other websites on the web where you can find copyright free images for commercial use. However, these are my favorites and the places where I go when I need to find a nice photo for my blog posts, landing pages, slide presentations, etc.
I also want to thank all the photographers and the people behind these awesome sites for sharing their work and for allowing us to download, edit and use their photos in our projects for free.
They make my life as a blog owner easier, and certainly much less expensive than if I’d have to pay for all the photos.
If you found this post helpful, make sure you share it with your friends so they can also find out about these amazing websites. They will appreciate for sure.