In this article we’ll take a look at the best places where you can find amazing images for your content without paying a penny!
If you are a content creator, chances are that visual media is a big part of your daily work. Photos, videos, infographics, screenshots; all of this is an inseparable part of anyone’s content strategy - and if it’s not, it should be.
Why? Let’s take a brief look at these statistics, provided by Cooler Insights:
While the stats are from a couple of years ago, nothing has changed, or if it has, the numbers are only up when it comes to the advantages of visual content.
People are visual learners and they consume information in a much smoother manner when they see it laid out like this.
Moreover, whenever the question of readability comes up, the user experience statistics are adamant about the role of images. A good formatting will require an image breaker circa every 300-400 words in order to make the text as readable as possible.
OK, images are important, now what?
Well, this part is a bit tricky. Probably anyone who has a website is aware by now that they need images for their site. The big question is - how do you obtain them?
Generally speaking, whether you go for photos or animated content, there are limited options of pricuring this type of content:
- You create them yourself: obviously, this is the best option. Whether is photography or drawings, the end product will be something unique and extremely personalized. This is especially true when it comes to animations. The problem here is that either you need to be able to do it, or you need to invest in someone who can do it for you. Like most high-quality options, this can be rather expensive.
- You buy them from a bank image: personally, this is my least favorite options as it has the negative sides of both option 1 and 3. You don’t get something personalized, yet you have to pay for it (though less, obviously). The advantage is that usually image banks have a huge database, so it’s way more likely to find something very specific. For example, although I’m not a big fan of paid stock images, I like the Adobe Stock and this is pretty much the only place I’ve used for paid images. Of course, this is my personal opinion and you may find that image banks actually work very well for your project.
- You get free images from sites that offer photos and animations for free and without a requirement to credit copyright. In the past couple of years several sites like this popped up and indeed you can find a lot of beautiful, high-definition photos there.
Today in our Easy Guide series we’ll discuss option number three, as lots of people are looking for free photos and images, and it's important to know how to find them without infringing any copyright laws.
Where to find stunning free images in 2020
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the list we’ve prepared today. Keep in mind that royalty-free means you won’t have to pay; it doesn’t always mean that no credit will be required, so check additionally about this, if you want to entirely avoid any kind of commitment.
- Pexels Pexels was probably the first site of this kind I ever found. The site was founded in 2014 and today it has a huge collection of photos which you can use for both personal and commercial use. The images there do not require any kind of attributions, so you can also modify and distribute them.
The photos are truly stunning:
One thing that I find particularly interesting is that in the past few months, I see a lot of vertical photos submitted. My personal opinion is that this is mirroring the trend of this format; vertical photos are used more and more due to their better display on mobile devices.
They have short videos as well, which can be adapted into things like video backgrounds, FB covers etc.
You will also find the collection page, where you can find collections of images on specific topic, like drone shots, textures etc.
Keep in mind you won’t find a classic filter (to determine size or orientation) but there are suggestions of similar topics, just as you may see in Google search
BONUS TIP: If you are a Canva user, you will find Pexels integrated directly in the tool - you can search without ever leaving the Canva site. Just scroll down to More and cllick on Pexels ( you can also find another entry from our list - Pixabay)
As per their own website, Unsplash was created as a Tumblr blog and later transformed into what it is now; a large and very popular image bank of free high-resolution images. In July 2019, they said the 1 billion download happened on their site.
Unsplash is very similar to Pexels, although you will find a crucial difference at the home page: you can directly see suggested categories.
The site features more than 1 million images, both royalty-free and attribution-free which can be freely used for commercial use.
Like our previous entry, they have Collections, but they also feature a wallpaper category, which are mostly oriented toward mobile devices too.
Pixabay is another great website and it differs significantly from the first two with two categories: Illustrations and Vectors.
Both types of images are trending right now, so having a place that offers this format is really a great thing. If you have a favorite photographer, who uploads there, you can also search via their name.
Like Pexels, Pixabay is also integrated with Canva, so in case you do use that tool to create images for your site and social media, you'll have a very easy access to their amazignly large database of images.
StockSnap.io is another place to find high-definition, greatly snapped photos.
Something particular abotu the site is that I find there seems to be a lot more city-centered, underground style photos.
There also big on lifestyle photos, but to be fair, so are most of the other sites. All of their images can be used under the Creative Commons CC0 license, so you can freely use them, copy them and modify them without attribution.
Even if you aren't a big fan of the platform Shopify, you can check their free image bank.
You will find amazing royalty-free photos, and a lot of categories to choose from. Obviously, because they are related to the parent project, the focus seems to be more on objects than abstract photographies.
Due to the same reason, the site has a really great blog-style section, full of small-business ideas and tips how to execute those ideas.
6. Life of Pix
Life of Pix is another cool option. I find interesting their choice of styling their homepage, which is just one column with full-width images:
While this allow them to show way fewer images, you can see indeed the full image directly, and perhaps that helps user imagine how it would look big-sized.
The free high-definition photos are added on a weekly basis, so their image bank is pretty large for such a new project. Also, similarly to Pexels, they have a twin project called Life of vids where you can find short videos and clips.
Images and videos have no copyright restrictions and can be used for both personal and commercial use.
Kaboompics has a unique feature, that distinguishes it from the crowd; it offers entire photoshoots! This is somthing that I haven't seen yet in the other sites, and if you are looking for similarly styled photos in oder to create something with a great sense of consistency, you definitely need to check this site.
The other distinctive features is the color filter they have, which allows you to get photos within a specific pallette, although, to be hones that is something you can get in other sites too by typing the name of the color (e.g. "red").
Kaboompics aslso uses their own license, which is very similar to Creative Commons Zero. The one crucial difference though is that you are not allowed to redistribute the photos.
In case you haven't heard of Flickr, that's understandable, since the platform has long surpassed it's peak of fame an popularity. Flickr is an image hosting platform owned by Yahoo!, which used to be incredibly popular as a place to upload your pictures. The site still has its loyal fanbase though, and the reason you find it in our list is because they have given their users the opportunity to release the uploaded photos under speific terms of licensing.
If you visit the Wikipedia page of Flickr, you will be able to read more on the licenses of the images on their site, but basically you will see the following options: - Royalty free images - For non-commercial use only - Photo credit is required - No derivative works allowed
This seems to be more restrictive than any of the other sites I've listed so far (and it is) but the advantage I see in the platform is the huge numbers of photo released. Also, many of the photos seems genuine shots and not stock-like, if this is the style you're looking for.
I would still recommend paying attention if you choose to use media from Flickr and make sure you are complying with all of their requirements
It should come to no surprise Wikimedia Foundation, the parent organization for so much of internet's free information, has also a project for free photos.
Wikimedia Commons will give you the opportunity to search amongst images that are public domain. They have photos, illustrations and drawings, basically covering almost any need you may have.
You can search for photos by either using the search bar in your top right corner, or by going to the bottom right conrner and choose from the categories:
- By topic
- By location
- By type
- By author
- By licence
- By source
Keep in mind some images will fall under the creative commons license requiring photo credit, so make sure you check exactly the conditions under which you can use any specific image.
One of the best things you will find on this site is their incredible sectioning.
The extremely large database of images is neatly organized in several categories, so whenever you decide to search for something in there, you will be able to quickly identify the category you need.
The other particular thing about Free images is the possibility to search by the type of camera used to shot the respective image. In order to access this creative filter, you need to go to the Browse option (top menu) and select the Camera menu item.