They say a picture is worth a thousand words. That may very well be true. Your blog, no matter how compelling the content you write, needs photos. They’re an excellent way to get the point across, not to mention the fact that a well-inserted photo gives the reader a pause from the writing and makes the article easier to read than a big old wall of text.
That’s where stock photography comes in. First of all, let’s define the term: what is stock photography? The term can refer to any photo that can be used in a general way and that have not been taken for a specific client or use.
When do you use stock photos? Whenever, for example, you need to create a natural break in your article. For instance, if you’re writing a list-based article on famous landmarks, it stands to argue that after each new heading you will include a photograph of the landmark.
Why should you use stock photos? Because it can save you both time and money. There are a lot of places where you can get free stock photos online and even the places that charge for them are cheaper than using a professional photographer. More so, stock photography is extremely varied, so that you can be sure to find exactly the image you need.
Plus, since stock photography is subject to strict editing procedures, you may end up with images of higher quality than you might by using an inexpensive photographer. More so, since you can preview the stock photo, you can see if it’ll work with your project or not and, if not, you don’t have to pay for it.
Since stock photography is more general and can be used in a variety of contexts, you can reuse the same photo in various projects, blog posts and so on. Stock photography has a lot of applications in the design world, from magazines and book publishing to web design, calendar production or interior design.
All in all, stock photography is one of the best design resources that you’ll get to use and you shouldn’t hesitate to take advantage of the following list of websites where you can download free stock photos.
Stock.xchng is a completely free website that has over 350 000 photos from over 30 000 different photographers. The two downsides to this website are that it’s got a quit basic search function and that it’s quite well known and that the really good images on the website are pretty common all over the internet, so it’s a bit harder to be original if using this site.
2. Photo Pin
This site lets you search millions of Creative Commons photos from Flickr and allows you to specify what kind of license type you need. When browsing, you can hover the thumbnail and preview the photo. What’s really convenient about this site is that each photo includes the proper attribution link, so you just have to paste that in your post.
MorgueFile is one of the oldest websites on this list (it’s been around ever since 1996) and is a very well-known source for free high-resolution images. The way you use the images is completely not restricted, as long as you don’t claim they’re your own.
While PixelPerfectDigital doesn’t have the most images, the images are certainly more polished than most other free stock photo websites, since these ones have been processed by professionals. You can browse the images by category or you can use the simple search function.
StockVault has over 40 000 free images. Its search function is category-driven and, like Photo Pin, hovering your mouse over a thumbnail will result in a preview image. The licensing is a bit more strict than some of the other sites on this list, but the site is still good for personal and non-commercial work.
OpenPhoto is only two years younger than MorgueFile and, like MorgueFile, has a large collection of images submitted by contributors from all over the world. Many of the images are Flickr-style personal shots. The search function is easy and keyword-driven and you can browse by category.
What list of free image websites would be complete without a mention of Flickr? It’s one of the largest photo sharing websites online, and it has, because of that, a mix of amateur and professional photography. You can find images that are usable for all your design needs by using their advanced search and toggling the ‘Creative Commons Licensed’ box.
8. DeviantArt’s Stock Photo Category
DeviantArt has a huge collection of great stock images that are completely free. The licensing is visible under each photo, but most of them are creative commons and all of them are free to download. Definitely worth checking out!
Compfight searches Flickr photos via tags, or full text or licenses. You can also choose to show or hide originals as well as turn the safe search filter on or off. Compfight also has a WordPress plugin that makes it easy to search for images and insert them into your blog with the proper attribution. However, the plugin does not download the image. Instead, the images inserted via the plugin stay hosted on flickr.
10. Creative Commons Search
This site is probably the largest collection of free images in one place but, despite the name of the website, some images may not be Creative Commons, so do make sure before you use any of the photos.
11. Dreamstime’s Free Photo Section
Dreamstime is one of the largest stock photo websites out there and its free photo section is proportional to the rest of the site. Most of the free photos don’t even require attribution on your part, but the search is kind of basic.
12. Fotolia’s Free Photo Section
Fotolia is another one of the older photo sites on this list. The selection of photos in their free photo section is great, but changes daily and you may not find the same photo there two days in a row.
EveryStockPhoto is a great aggregator of free stock photography from sites such as MorgueFile, Flickr, stock.xchn and many others. They have indexed over 19 million photos, so you’re bound to find something to suit your needs, provided you spend enough time looking for it.
PixaBay is a repository of public domain images that’s available in 20 languages and has all its images free both for personal as well as commercial use without attribution to the original author.
15. Wikimedia Commons
We end this list of free stock photo websites with Wikimedia Commons, another image repository that contains a lot of public domain and freely-licensed media content, including images as well as audio and video clips.
That about that wraps up our list of places you can get quality free stock images online. If we’ve missed one, be sure to let us know in the comments section below!