If there’s a question I’m always asked about blogging, it’s this one —
Where do I find free photos for my blog?
It’s a great question. Not all of us have the means to fork out the money for paid stock photography, and many of us also don’t have the time or the means (or even the interest) to take photos ourselves. If you’re swiping images you find through Google searches and adding them to your blog, you’re not linking with love, and you could be breaking the law!
If you’ve ever wondered where to go to get free high quality images for your blog, I’ve put together what I believe to be the most exhaustive guide EVER to free photos for your blog. Grab a drink (alcohol optional) and put your feet up!
Free Photos from Professional Stock Photography Agencies
Most of the paid stock photography agencies offer one or two free images every week (or monthly, in some cases). Often the images are seasonal; for example, a few weeks in advance of the beginning of summer, they did summer-related images. In most cases, you do have to create an account with the agencies to be able to access the downloads, but it’s worth the trouble as this is a great way to steadily build a library of professional stock photography. Here’s a list of sites I check on a regular basis.
- Free Images of the Week from Masterfile — Usually a high resolution photograph and a vector-based image.
- Bigstock’s Free Images of the Week
- Free Stock Files Every Week from iStock by Getty Images
- Thinkstock Photo’s Free Image of the Week
- photodune’s Free File – Updated monthly
- Crestock’s Free Image of the Week – Sometimes a vector-based illustration instead of a photograph.
- Lightstock – Lightstock bills itself as the home of Christ-centered royalty-free photos. Not all of the free photos represent religious symbols; many can be used for any purpose at all.
- 123RF – You can “Like” 123RF on Facebook for access to their free weekly HD image, but they also have a leftover image page with access to over 30,000 images. Additionally, 123RF offers free audio files and graphic files (PSDs) for download.
- Fotolia’s Free Royalty Free Images – This is a dedicated page on Fotolia’s site featuring about 15 or so free downloadable images at a time. I apologize, but I’m not sure of the frequency of their rotation, but, as a point of reference, I generally check them out once a month or so.
- GL Stock Images Free Stock Images (and Vectors) – GL Stock Images is a great site for low-cost stock photography. You can get many of their images for just $1.00. Even with their photos so reasonably priced, GL Stock Images has literally thousands of images (and vectors) available for free download on their site. Again, I’m not sure of the rotation, but I also check this site about once a month.
Free User-Generated Photography Available Via Creative Commons License
Here are some sites with user-generated photography (i.e., the folks are not always professional photographers; they might be people like me and you) that you can use with attribution via Creative Commons licenses (you’ll want to check the license to be sure of any attribution requirements, rules about altering, etc.).
- Public Domain Pictures
- Compfight – Compfight searches all of the photos on Flickr, so be sure to check the option to have it search CC images only. Compfight’s my favorite because it gives you the option of choosing different size photos, and it formats the attribution link for you.
- Photo Pin
- Wikimedia Commons – Also includes video and audio files.
- Stock Photos for Free Provided by GraphicStock
- Stock Free Images
- Open Photo Project
- Pixel Perfect Digital Free Stock Photography
Free Stock Photography via Email
Death to Stock Photo – Sign up to receive about 10 to 20 images per month delivered right to your in box! You can also buy old ‘editions’ (photos from months previous to your sign up) for just $5. These images are gorgeous, usually beautifully styled shots of coffee shops, lake front scenes and more. You can tell how much I like this service; they’ve used a quote from me in the background photo on their site!
Free Stock Photography for Special Purposes
- Unsplash – These shots are contributed by professional photographers. This site’s special because the images are high resolution, which means they’re work for your print projects too! It’s updated every ten days (instead of every week) with ten new photos.
- CreationSwap – Creation Swap is a great place to find free Christian images, including photos, vectors, slides, even simple logos. Some of the content on the site is paid, but it’s easy to sort through all of it to find something at your price point. Similar to Lightstock, not all of the photos are specific to Christianity; there are some great landscape shots, for example, which can be used for any purpose.
- New Old Stock – I love this site for vintage black and white shots of “slice of American life”-type shots. These are public domain photos with no known image restrictions.
- Lime Lane Photography – Lime Lane Photography is a business owned by a talented and creative Australian photographer named Kellie. She shares some of her photography for public use under CC license. Categories include creativity, food + drink and simple stills. She’s got some great shots of vintage cameras and typewriters.
- Love from Ginger – Small, but growing collection of great floral and craft supplies shots. At least one new image is added every Friday.
- Trey Ratcliff’s Travel Photography – Popular and talented travel photographer Trey Ratcliff has made some of his photos available under CC license. You’ll want to read his license policy before using them to be sure you stay in compliance.
Remember to always give proper attribution when using a photo you find through one of these sites (if it’s required). Also, be creative when searching for images, especially on shots with user-generated (i.e. non-professional) images. Image search functions are based on tags and categories supplied by users, so you may need to try several similar words and phrases to find what you need. For example, if you want photos of Christmas trees, you might try searching for Xmas trees, holiday trees, Christmas decorations, Xmas decorations, holiday decorations and so on.
So, have you heard of most of these sites? Which ones are your favorites?