I write blog posts and create an ever-expanding amount of marketing content for our company. I often have to find free stock images, and I am impressed with how good the public domain offerings are getting. Here are the sources that seem to rise to the top.
Things to watch out for
Before getting to the sites, I should note that copyright law is important to follow and there are certainly different forms of “free” license. Public Domain Sherpa and Creative Commons provide great information about license types. Generally speaking, I prefer “free to use, including modification, for commercial use, without attribution” but I consider attribution if that’s all that’s available. In any case, it’s important to know which license you are using. “CC0” is nice as it doesn’t require attribution.
Enough watching out, here are the sites…
1. Google Advanced Search
Google’s advanced search lets you specify the license type. This is typically the first place I go, being certain to choose the usage rights option.
2. Creative Commons search tool
Creative Commons lets you select from different stock photo sites after entering search terms.
Flickr is a fantastic repository of crowdsourced images, and it has a feature to select the license you want.
4. Public Domain Vectors
While photos are most common in other sites, vector art can be extremely useful. Publicdomainvectors has a wide selection of vector art with a “use anywhere” license.
Pixabay has many images, as it hits multiple sites, and clearly informs the license.
StockSnap.io has a nice selection of images, a decent search, and they are exclusively CC0 license.
Pexels provides about 30,000 curated images, all under the CC0 license.
Unsplash is very tasteful and is based on community contributions.
I’m sure there are more
There are of course many places to go for free stock images, and the commercial stock options are always there, but these are the places I look to first. I chose these because they are less noisy and commercial than some of the others, which often bend over backwards to sell you commercial offerings under the banner of “free”. I would welcome suggestions of additional sources.