Photos or pictures offer a great way to make your content more engaging and appealing. A picture tells a story without using any words and captures a moment of your life. In a world where videos are increasingly becoming a powerful medium; marketers, advertisers and print media still prefer images as a better medium for visual marketing.
Content creators, creative people, advertisers, marketing professionals, publishers need a steady supply of photos and stock images for their projects. The internet is full of photos and images but most of the content on the internet is copyright protected. Therefore, most professionals preferred paid stock images for projects. You have to pay a small royalty or licence fee to the original creators for using their images.
But, when most people hear the term “free stock images” they think, something free won’t live up to their expectations. However, there are many websites on the internet which provide high quality stock images. Most of these images are licensed under Creative Commons Licences or are present in the public domain.
What is Creative commons Licence?
According to Wikipedia:
A Creative Commons (CC) license is one of several public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted “work”. A CC license is used when an author wants to give other people the right to share, use, and build upon a work that he or she (that author) has created.
Most free images on these sites are offered under:
Creative Commons Zero (CC0) or “No Rights Reserved” Licence:
The Photos filed under this licence are free to be used for any purpose even commercially without worrying about their licencing. Their creators have waived their copyrights and placed them in public domain.
These images are free for personal as well as commercial use and you don’t have to take permission or pay any royalty to anyone for using them for any legal purpose. You don’t have to give attribution to the original creator.
Creative Commons Attribution:
These Licences allow the images to be used for personal and commercial use, however with the condition of “giving proper attribution” to the original creator.
Other Things to Keep in Mind
Creative Commons images in public domain which have a recognisable face or person in them can’t used for commercial purpose unless you get a model release form from the original creator. A model release form is an agreement between the photographer and the model specifying the intended use of the photo.
Creative Commons Zero or public domain images can only be used for legal purposes. Use of these photos is not allowed in projects that have inappropriate content such as but not limited to any material that incites or promotes violence, racism, any discrimination, prejudice or intolerance toward any individual or group, religion, sexuality, gender, political view.
Here’s a list of the most popular websites for royalty free, commercial use stock images and photos
Pixabay was founded by Hans Braxmeier and Simon Steinberger. Pixabay offer creative commons public domain images and vector illustration stock images. The images are available for download for low resolution for unregistered users. Registered users have access to all the resources, including high resolution image download. Pixabay also offers public domain or creative common zero videos.
Pexels photos can be used free for commercial and noncommercial use. Attribution is not required. Giving credit to the photographer or Pexels is not necessary. You can use the images for any legal purpose. However, any identifiable person or model should not appear in any indecent material or content. You are not allowed to sell raw images without adding any value to them or market them as your own creation. Pexels also has video, vector an illustration database.
Canva is an online image editing platform and it also offers a free image database. It lets you use and modify these images online with readymade templates. You can design flyers and brochures using their images and publish them anywhere.
Life Of Pix lets photographers from around the world upload their photos to their site. It selects the photographer of the week from among those uploader. Most of these images are free for use. They also offer free videos
Their website says that they offer world’s quirkiest collection of free high-resolution pictures, comprised of the world’s best, most creative images.
picjumbo is free stock photo site created in 2013 by designer & photographer Viktor Hanacek. It all started when all of the regular stock photo sites rejected his photos for lack of quality. Two years later, people have downloaded more than two and half million pictures from picjumbo.
StockVault offers royalty free stock image, Vectors, and graphic illustration. They also have a large collection of free textures ranging from grunge, dirt, paint, rock, plastic, wood and liquid to metallic & rusty surfaces and backgrounds.
Unsplash grants you an irrevocable, nonexclusive, worldwide copyright license to download, copy, modify, distribute, perform, and use photos from Unsplash for free, including for commercial purposes, without permission from or attributing the photographer or Unsplash. This license does not include the right to compile photos from Unsplash to replicate a similar or competing service.
Everyone can use SplitShire, from designers, bloggers, website creators, social marketing gurus, companies. You can’t sell the photo as it is on third-party stock websites.
Wikimedia commons is not a free stock image site, however it has a huge database of images which appear in wikipedia. Most of the images of the Wikipedia are either in public domain are licenced under creative commons attribution sharealike license. You can use these images for you personal as well as commercial projects after giving proper attribution as specified by the original creator.
Most people know flicker as an image sharing site. However it also has a huge database of images which are CC0 or filed under public domain. You would have to search a little bit for such images. Any image offered under public domain can be used freely.
Moreover, images released by Government run institutions and organisations in many countries like NASA release their images in public domain.
If you have any other recommendation for free stock image sites to be included in this list then please suggest them in the comments section.