The first thing you have to decide is whether you want images or photography?
These are two totally different things.
Do you need a stock photo of a landscape or a girl on a beach?
Or are you working on branding as a whole or maybe you want a uniformed, polished look.
There’s a big spectrum between free and paid and so many choices. I can get lost for days at some of the sites below. I use both free and paid.
I’ve fallen in love with the photography of Styled Stock Society and now I use them exclusively on this site and most social media posts.
That’s where all of these gorgeous new images came from. It’s a subscription and I paid $45 for six months. That’s like $7 and some change a month.
I don’t mind paying that for this much pretty! It makes me smile every time I look at it.
The new theme is by Divi and I use it and Genesis exclusively depending on the website and client. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Divi by Elegant Themes it’s not a theme it’s more of a working relationship.
I’ve used several of their layouts and they are so customizable! This one, though, is by far my favorite. It’ll be around for a long time.
I’m addicted to photography. I only want to look at other people’s work, though, my photography skills are nada, zilch, nonexistent.
I’m the one who ends up with 16 pictures of the ceiling and only one blurry picture of half a grandkid. (true story!)
So let’s get right to it!
There are four basic types of photography licensing and you should be aware of which one the image you are using requires. I cannot stress enough Read The License Terms Before You Use The Image!
Creative Commons – There are 7 Creative Common licenses.
Attribution – means that the owner allows you to distribute, remix, tweak and build upon their work, even commercially as long as you credit them for the original work.
Attribution (Noncommercial) – Same as attribution, but you can’t use them commercially. You can use them in a blog post, but nothing that you could sell.
Attribution No Derivatives – same as Attribution, except you can’t make any changes to the original work. You can use the image in a blog post or product, but you won’t be able to crop, rotate or change colors on a photograph with this license.
Attribution-ShareAlike licenses – This licenses let you remix, tweak and build upon the original work for commercial or non-commercial purposes as long as you credit it AND license your new creation under the same terms. This means that if you wish to share your new work, like say a free ebook, it must carry the same license.
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs – The most restrictive CC license, meaning you can use the creative work with attribution, but you can’t use it commercially and you can’t alter it in any way.
Zero – The least restrictive CC license. It means that the owner of the work has waived all rights and you are free to use the image as often and however you wish, however you like, with no attribution.
What this means for you as a blogger: Creative Commons images are great for bloggers because they are monetarily free and you can use most of them in blog posts, ebooks, and products. Just be sure to give attribution each time you use one and be careful about where you use a noncommercial image. You won’t need to attribute images with a CC Zero license.
Public domain – Images or works in the Public Domain mean that their intellectual property rights have actually expired, been forfeited or are inapplicable. Images are free to use whenever and wherever you’d like.
Rights Managed – You pay for an image based on how many times and how many places it’s being used and/or viewed. Because of these restrictions and the high cost, it is not feasible for a blog or website.
Royalty Free – Means that you don’t pay a royalty for each instance that you use the image like you might do with Rights Managed images. Once you’ve purchased a royalty-free license, you can use the image multiple times with no time limit. There are some restrictions, however: you can’t use it in a template and resell it, for example.
What this means for you as a blogger: Royalty Free images can be inexpensive and are great for blog posts, web ads, videos, ebooks and digital products without attribution.
How Do You Know If Images You’ve Already Used Are In Violation?
Tineye to search for it. Tineye allows you to upload an image or enter the image URL (right-click the image and select “Copy Image URL”). A list of websites, including stock image sites using the image, is returned.
Sites for images
Pixabay – All images and videos on Pixabay are released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0. You may download, modify, distribute, and use them royalty free for anything you like, even in commercial applications. Attribution is not required.
Unsplash – Free (do whatever you want) high-resolution photos. Subscribe to their newsletter and get a photo pack delivered right to your inbox.
Picjumbo – Free stock photo site created by designer & photographer Viktor Hanacek in 2013. It all started when any regular stock photo site didn‘t want his photos due to lack of quality. Two years later people downloaded more than two and half millions images from this site.
Gratisography – Free high-resolution pictures you can use on your personal and commercial projects.
Flickr – Not every photo on Flickr is available for you to use, even with attribution, so it’s best to find images using Flickr’s Advanced Search.
Stockphotos.io – A high-quality site for public domain and Creative Commons photos.
Tineye – A simple shortcut to finding photos in a specific color palette. When you choose the color(s) you’d like to have in your image, TinEye will gather images straight from the Creative Commons images on Flickr. Choose up to 5 colors and even adjust the percentage of each color.
Stockpholio – It doesn’t take you to Flickr to download the images, you can download them directly from the site AND get the HTML code with the credits. It makes downloading images much faster.
30 Stunning HDR Photos w/ Creative common license. There are only 30 images, but there are some stunning cityscapes and other landscape types of images.
Photopin – Free photos for bloggers & creatives. You can download the images in several sizes without having to go to Flickr and there is HTML code available to cut and paste for attribution.
Wikimedia – Media file repository that makes media content (images, sound and video clips) in both the public domain and Creative Commons freely available. Because it’s a Wiki site, anyone can copy, use and modify any files as long as the terms of each is followed.
Libreshot – A project that contains free stock photos for private and commercial use. All photos and the whole website are created by Martin Vorel.
Europeana – An online collection of digitized items from European museums, libraries, archives and multi-media collections. There are many items here that are also in the Public Domain.
Photogen – Photos for commercial and non-commercial use. Categories range from business, agriculture, technology and arts to nature, travel and food and drink (plus more).
Freephotobank – FreePhotoBank is a free stock photo site. Feel free to download pictures (up to 2048 pixels, Creative Commons licence) but don’t forget to link back to FreePhotoBank !
Freefoto – Images in many different categories can be used for non-commercial purposes under the Creative Commons license for non-commercial, no derivatives, attribution license. For a fee, images can be made available for commercial use and in high resolution.
Freestockphotos – Owned and copyrighted by Daniel Speck. Mostly nature and travel images.
Photoseverywhere – A free stock photo site specializing in travel-related stock photos.
Burst.Shopify – A new free stock photo site that covers just about anything.
Pixwizard – There are nearly 100,000 images on the site that are completely free to use (without attribution), about 20,000 of which are exclusive to us and can’t be found anywhere else.
Free Templates – Looking for free templates for your next project? Find everything from brochures to tickets are available on this site.
Crowdsourced Stock –
Fotopedia – Many photos here are available under the Creative Commons license, but you have to read the caption on each photo very carefully. If the caption says “Photo: ” and then shows the little CC in a circle icon, then click on that to read the license for that one photo.
Photober – Photos are all available for both commercial and personal use.
Patternpictures – A free photo site that provides mostly photographic backgrounds and textures, but also a lot of travel-style photographs.
The Open Photo Project – The Open Photo Project is a photo sharing platform created in 1998 by Michael Jastremski. Contributors have offered their images free of charge under terms of Creative Commons licensing.
Dotspin – A social sharing website for where you can upload and either sell or share your Instagram and Twitter photos under a Creative Commons license.
Morguefile – Photographs that have been freely contributed by many photographers for use in creative projects. You may use them for personal or commercial use.
Photographer Owned Stock
Lime Lane Photography – Kellie is the photographer/blogger behind Lime Lane and although she sells many photographs, she also shares a few for free. All photos are meant for blog posts.
Picjumbo – Viktor Hanácek adds free photos to PicJumbo every day.
Splitshire – Free stock photos for personal & commercial use.” Daniel Nanescu is an Italian Web & Graphic Designer and Photographer that shares his own photographs to use free for both personal and commercial use.
Superfamous – Dutch interaction designer Folkert Gorter shares his incredible biological, aerial and geological photography on this site.
Imagebase – Imagebase.net is a collection of vectors and photos of people, objects, urban, nature and travel, mostly taken by David Niblack. Images can be freely used for personal, commercial, non-profit, artistic, or creative purposes.
Function Design Blog – Liam McKay has offered to share 4 volumes of his hi-res photos. You have full permission to use them however you see fit.
Stockunlimited – I paid $49 for lifetime access through SumoApp. I use it constantly and it has a wide range of photos available to use.
Styled Stock Society – This subscription runs about $10 a month or you can save more by paying for several months upfront. Amazing feminine styled photography that you can use anywhere. Receive free images for signing up for her newsletter.
Haute Chocolate – Another subscription-based photography site that has stunning feminine styled photography. Runs about $75 for three months. Receive free images by signing up for her newsletter.
Shay Cochrane – Beautiful photography bought in bundles or individually. Great for branding. Sign up for her newsletter and get your first image free.
Canva – Canva provides tons of free images. Some require purchase, but they are always $1.
Adobe Stock Photos – Tons of images. Subscription costs $29.99 a month with your first month free.
Stocksy – A pay-as-you-go subscription site.
Stock Free Images – The largest web collection of free images. 1,607,385 images royalty-free stock photos and illustrations.
Death By Stock Photos – Subscriptions start at $15 and go all the way up to $180 per year. Get free images by signing up for their newsletter.
Graphicstock – Enjoy unlimited downloads of royalty-free photos, vectors, and illustrations. $49 a month or $99 for a whole year.
There is no way that I could include every single photo website, but these are the main ones. If you have more please feel free to add them in the comments below.