I recently had a discussion with a fellow web designer about images used on a client’s site.
Her client contacted her after receiving a $1400 invoice from the image’s license holder, for unauthorized use of an image. He thought that because he had found the image on Google Images that it was free for him to use.
Just because it is on the internet, it doesn’t mean it’s yours.
If you have a budget that allows, and you need the “perfect” shot, there are many stock photo sites where you can find and purchase images, thereby obtaining a license that allows you to use it on your site, in your logo, on your promotional material.
But let’s say your budget is limited. Or that all you need is a photo for a blog post. Where do you find high quality, hi-resolution images that fit your content and don’t look awful?
What are your options for free photos?
Below you will find several sites worth bookmarking. I have highlighted some of the options to be especially aware of as you search. (click on images to enlarge) Always be certain that you read any license information. As my fellow designer mentioned, “Ignorance is not an excuse for theft” in the eyes of the license holder.
Google Creative Commons Image Search: (*Please note that this is not the same as ‘Google Images’. ‘Google Images’ is not a free image site. It is still up to the user to verify and obtain image rights prior to using)
Check “Usage Rights” on the Advanced Image Search to filter your images.
Flickr’s Creative Commons Image Search: Flickr is filled with amazingly stunning photos from photographers around the world. Just about any and every keyword is covered.
But be sure to check the license. To do so: Go to “advanced search”, scroll to the bottom of the page and search within the creative commons content. You will still need to check the requirements that each user stipulates for their photos. Some allow a simple attribution, others still require that you ask for permission.
EveryStockPhoto.com: A search engine for free images from various sources. As always, check the license for each photo.
Stock.xchng: Owned by Getty Images, this site contains over 350,000 free images. Your search will also show premium photos from other sources.
FreeStockPhotos.biz: Over 16,000 “free images available in a variety of commercial and editorial licenses, including public domain, creative commons, and custom agreements.” Check the FAQ page for usage information and check the ‘license details’ link on each photo.
All of the sites listed above have different license details, but all of them are excellent resources. As always, be aware of the usage rights and restrictions, educate yourself and you won’t have to worry about receiving a surprise $1400 invoice.
Since writing this post a few years ago, several sites have started that grew out of the frustration many felt in finding quality images that don’t scream stock photo! These sites all have beautiful, hi-res images for your site and are:
Death To The Stockphoto (attribution not required)
Unsplash (attribution not required)
Minimography (attribution not required)
Picjumbo (attribution not required)
Superfamous (attribution required)
Pixabay (attribution not required)