Stock photography can be expensive. And randomly grabbing licensed images from the Internet can cost you thousands of dollars if you’re found violating copyright and threatened with legal action (this happened to someone I talked to at a Meetup).
Filtered Google Search
You can find free legal images through a filtered Google search, but I want to be very clear here. If you do a Google search for images and randomly use one on your website without consideration for the copyright, you could be hit with a fine and/or a lot of legal hassles. So, don’t do that!
What you can do is a Google search only for images labeled for reuse. To do that, search for whatever topic you are looking for in Google, then click Images when the search results show up.
Next, click Tools in the bar above the image results. Then, use the Usage Rights pulldown to filter by Creative Commons licenses. These are images that you can use on your website for free, but they might require attribution or other action. Once you find a photo you like, check the requirements.
Free Photos, No Attribution Required
Here are some sources for license-free stock photos! No attribution required (but it is often encouraged, and please double-check, as licensing can change):
- Free-Images.com – Recommended!
- Pixnio – Scroll past the paid images for the free ones.
- StockSnap – Scroll down past the Shutterstock photos to see the free ones.
The featured image at the top of this article is from Pixabay, which I highly recommend!
These are sources of specialty photos:
Professional food photos. Attribution is requested but not required.
This is a specific image “service” to help web developers place temporary images in websites during development. Yes, the images are of bears!
This was the original inspiration for Placebear using, you guessed it, kittens!
Archival / Historical
These sites offer free historical/archival photos. Attribution may be required:
- New York Public Library Digital Collections
These photos are very old but could be useful for a retro or historical site
- Wikimedia Commons
Some photos require attribution or have other requiremetns.
These sites offer free images but they may require attribution or have other limitations:
- Dreamstime – Has a free section but attribution is required.
- FreeFoto – Attribution and link are required.
- freepik – Free photos, vector art, icons, and PSDs, but attribution is required.
- NASA on The Commons – Free photos, just need to give attribution to NASA.
- NASA Visible Earth – Free with attribution, unless otherwise noted.
- PhotoPin – License varies with photo.
- Wikimedia Commons – Attribution may be required.
These sites offer free videos:
- Mazwai – some may require attribution
- Videvo offers free stock video and music/sound effects, as well as premium content.
Here are some great sources for free icons for your website. Among these three sources you should be able to find almost anything that you need.
- CSS.gg offers open source CSS and SVG icons.
- Google Material Icons gives you tons of great free icons available in five styles!
- Font Awesome gives you over 1600 icons for free.
- Fontello is a free tool to package web fonts. I haven’t tried this yet, but it offers a lot of free fonts.
- Elegant Themes has its free icon font with over 300 free icons. These are more web and business-related. These are built into the Divi theme.
- IcoMoon has 5500 free icons.
- iconmonstr offers thousands of free icons.
- Bytesize offers 84 lean free icons.
- Remix Icons offers free open source icons.
Check out these great free illustrations!
Free Background Patterns
Find the perfect non-obtrusive background for your web pages.
So, as you can see, there are lots of sources of royalty-free content on the Internet! Don’t take chances by randomly downloading copyrighted photos!
What are some sources of free photos that I don’t have here? Please comment below. – Brian