Recently I’ve been looking for images to include in a Kindle book. It’s not always easy to find a picture that perfectly fits the subject matter, especially when you have to consider the possible legal restrictions of using images.
You can’t just do a keyword search on Google and take one of the images in the search results. Chances are that will turn out to be illegal. You also have to be very careful if you want to use images of people. Without a proper model release you could be opening a whole can of copyright worms.
Often it takes quite a bit of time and effort to find the right image with the right licence. You can even spend so much time trying to find them that you eventually give up and end up buying the images instead.
It would be helpful to know where to find images online that have no copyright restrictions and don’t require you to pay for a licence. Here are nine websites where at least some of the images meet this criteria.
This site describes itself as a search engine for free photos. There are nearly 20 million free images, each with license details available for you to check. Membership is free and allows you access to one of the best sites I’ve found. A recent project required images that you can often only get from NASA and this was one of the few sites that provided images I could use.
Stock.xchng has more than 350,000 photos taken by over 30,000 photographers. Once you have registered you can access their free images. If they do not have the image you need the site often displays alternatives which link to iStock, which does require credits to purchase. When using a photo from Stock.xchng make sure you comply with their images licence agreement. You may need to contact the photographer and notify them you are using their image.
Pixabay allows you to search more than 40,000 free public domain images. This means you can use any image from this site in digital and printed format, for personal and commercial use, without having to attribute the original author.
There is an Editor’s Choice section and if you find yourself often using the images provided by one person you can also search by photographer. You have to sign up for free before you can download images.
Photopin enables you to search creative commons images, including those with a ‘commercial’ licence that allows you to use them on a business site. Once you’ve selected an image you’ll see the image sizes available for download and get access to HTML code for the attribution details that have to go with the image. Just copy the code and paste it at the bottom of the post or article that contains the image. If photpin does not have an image related to your search it will show images from shutterstock.com.
It may have a macabre name (that’s explained via their home page), but Morgue File has some good free images to choose from. Search via keyword, select an image you like and a pop up has all the details and a download button. Free to use, but there is pop-up that encourages you to sing their praises on Twitter and Facebook.
Flickr has free images in many categories, though not always the best selection. It’s a combination of Google image search and Pinterest as it now uses infinite-scrolling. You can open a free account and if you want to share your own images the site now offers an enormous terabyte of image storage.
Unsplash provides high-resolution images free of charge and free of copyright. However there is no search engine to help you find the image you want. Instead the site uploads 10 new photos every 10 days, so it’s a case of waiting for a relevant image to appear or be creative in the way you use the images. Join their mailing list for free and get an alert to your inbox whenever they upload new photos.
Dreamstime has over 19 million images, including royalty free stock photos as well as images available for a low fee. You can either download a free image or buy credits to purchase licenses. Once you have exceeded the usage limit for a free image you have to buy credits to use that image any further.
So there you are. Nine resources for the next time you need an image for your blog, Facebook post, Pinterest, etc.
If you have used any of the above or know of other sites that offer images with no copyright restrictions and don’t require you to pay for a licence, let us know in the comments below.