27 Jan Where to Download Free Stock Photos for your next Project
Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die.
Somewhat similar to that, every web developer needs high resolution images but no one wants to pay. If you are looking for websites to download free stock photos, there are plenty available, but not all of them follow the policies and/or are legal. There are, however, websites maintained by artists and designers which offer free stock photos in turn for attribution, or sometime completely free.
There are other websites offering freemium plans, and also budding photographers who offer their photographers for free in turn for exposure. In any case, there are a plethora of resources available from where you can download free stock photos online.
Among the given list of websites that offer free stock photos, you are bound to find what you are looking for.
Flickr is the best place to find royalty free images. There are a lot of photographers offering their photographs for commercial use freely or in return for attribution. It is the biggest photo sharing website on the internet and your image search just can’t be complete without a quick look there. But you must check the usage rights for the photos. You can use the photos available under Creative Commons license, marked as ‘owner has some copyright’.
- UnSplash: UnSplash is a tumblr blog maintained by oomf which provides absolutely free photographs for usage without any kind of attribution. They update 10 new photos every 10 days and the photos are simply stunning. You however will have a tough time finding the ones you are looking for, since there’s no search or tagging mechanism available. But the photos are an absolute steal. Something awesome like:
- Stock.Xchng: Stock.Xchng boasts of over 300,000 stock photographs, including some by top photographers. It offers everything from transport, technology to even abstract backgrounds. But be careful, the terms and conditions for this are a bit more complex than the usual. Do a quick check whether the photographs are allowed for commercial use or not!
- FreeMediaGoo: FreeMediaGoo provides a fantastic collection from where you can download free stock photos without bothering about royalty or annoying links. They provide free textures, backgrounds, digital backgrounds and photos in general categories. The photos can be used for both personal and commercial use.
- Pixel Perfect Digital:Pixel Perfect Digital offers Free Stock Photos, Backgrounds, Textures and other Design Elements. All images are provided under a Creative Commons Attribution License. This license lets you remix, tweak, and build upon work, even commercially, as long as you credit pixelperfectdigital.com for the original creation.
- StockVault: StockVault has a collection of 43k+ stock photographs and 65k+ members to boast of. However, these photos are available only for personal and non-commercial use. So you can use them on your blog or on educational/charity websites but not for company or client websites. Read their faqs for more details regarding the licensing.
- StockFreeImages: StockFreeImages has over 900k free images and illustrations. It is powered by Dreamstime and mentions that all images downloaded for free used online must be accompanied by a visible credit line in HTML format, whenever the workspace permits it (articles, blogs, etc).
- EveryStockPhoto: This is a search engine for free stock photos. These are available under different licenses and these can be used in commercial projects based on the licenses. The licenses can be viewed by clicking the license icon next to the photos. You will have to register to download the photos. The membership is free.
- Wikimedia: Wikimedia offers a database of 2o million free stock photos available under the creative commons license. You can even modify the photos as long as you attribute the original author. Wikimedia features a fairly extensive list of categories, from nature to engineering, and there is even a public domain category to greater filter your results. When using the search bar in the top right-hand corner, try entering “PD” before your search term to limit the results exclusively to public domain images.
- Freerange Stock: FreeRange Stock offers an amazing collection of stock photos which, according to their FAQs, can be used on commercial projects like websites, advertising, books, videos, and other commercial presentations. Registration is free on the website.
That makes up my list of top 10 places to download free stock photos. Some other sources include The Open Photo Project under Creative Commons License, Imagebase by David Niblack, Unprofound that allows you to search for images by color, Morguefile which provides illustrations and stock photos, Fotolia which provides free as well as paid stock photos, Public domain pictures, Public domain photos, Image*after for abstract photographs only, Free Photos Bank, Unrestricted Stock for photos and vectors, Pixabay (awesome search function!), foter (comes with a WP Plugin too!), PDPhoto, From Old Books for amazing vintage images of old scanned books, PhotoStockEverywhere for travel photos, Bigfoto for location based searching, AnimalPhotos, Carpictures for the best ever cars!, OpenClipArt, Clker for Clipart, RGBStock (amazing collection!, started by the ex-sxc.hu crew)
What does Creative Commons mean?
To most people, Creative Commons is synonymous with free media like photos, sound, and video. However, Creative Commons is actually a non-profit organization based in California, and there are varying levels of freedom associated with media submitted. Check this infographic about how to correctly attribute Creative Commons.
There are two attributions to look out for if you’re using images for business needs. These include Non-Commercial (NC) which means not used for business intentions, and No Derivative Works (ND) which permit only the original work to be utilized. To ensure the media you wish to use is not restricted in any way, confirm the license is a CC, which waives all rights of the creator in the public domain.
Another license with limited requirements is CC BY, which means users can edit the work and use it for commercial benefit as long as attribution to the original work is followed. For more info on creative commons, click here.
What does Royalty Free mean?
Royalty free means piece of media is free of copyright and may be used without paying royalty charges or a license fee; however, there may be a one-off payment to obtain the image (this is what I noticed on many sites promoting RF images). Please note that with a royalty-free image the owner still has copyright; they simply grant you a license to use it without paying royalties.