I have spent considerable time researching the best sites to find online free images/stock images, along with their copyright/ Creative Commons licences. Some of these sites will probably already be familiar to you but others new, as they were to me. I hope you find this of use, as it makes the time spent all worthwhile. Sites are listed in alphabetical order.
- BurningWell – a repository for public domain (free for any use) images. Donations welcomed – anyone have any Melbourne images they could upload, Melbourne is not represented there at all!
Waterlillies – Fiji
- Flickr Usage: image pages display their Creative Commons licences
- Free Digital Photos Dot Net – Royalty free images Usage: commercial and non-commercial.
- Free Photos Bank Usage: see terms
- Free Public Domain Photos You may use these images for any purpose, including commercial
- Freerange Stock free stock photos – Freerange is an advertising revenue supported photographic community – photographers get paid when users click on the ads that appear next to their submissions. Usage: commercial and personal.
- Free Web Page Headers – Usage: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.
- freewebphoto Usage: Free for linked web use
- Image*After a free online photo and texture collection. You can download and use any image or texture from the site Categories covered: architecture, art, food, nature, industry, humanoids, human parts, landscapes, objects, vehicles. (pretty much everything) – Usage: commercial or personal but no redistribution.
- Kave Wall – Free Stock Photos, Images and Textures. Usage: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.
- morgueFile – free high resolution stock photos. Usage: commercial personal.
- Openphoto is a wiki-based photography site. All images on the site are marked with Creative Commons attribution. Anyone can register and upload images. Users can browse or search by tags to find photos they are interested in.
- Pixel Perfect Digital Free Stock Photos Usage: Personal non-commercial use, restrictions apply for commercial use (also features premium low-cost images from Dreamstime).
- Microsoft Clip Art
- StockVault – stock photo sharing website. Over 100,000 images. Usage: Free for personal and non-commercial purposes.
Smaller Free Image Sites
FreeImages.co.uk – over 2,500 free stock images. Usage: Only a link to site required. *
unprofound.com which was started by one photographer, Jim, has now grown to become a “a global collaboration of photographers” all generously sharing their work freely with the only restrictions seeming to be on redistribution of the photos. Check the FAQ if you are unsure. No attribution is required although I think that giving credit is the right thing to do wherever possible. Search is via photo color or photographer and a search tool still to be refined. I had trouble choosing only one image out of this wonderful collection of high quality photos and I hope to see this site grow and become well known.
Specialist Free Image sites
There are so many of these that I cannot mention them all here but I would appreciate it if anyone can recommend any that are worthwhile checking out.
These sites contain images relating to specific topics or genres, those that have been designated as public domain, creative commons or are of an age where copyright has expired.
- Gimp Savvy Photo Archive – images come from three main sources: the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Usage: copyright free, some restrictions with regards to privacy for commercial usage.
- Old Book Illustrations includes galleries of animals, plants, landscapes, characters, scenes, buildings and monuments, science and technology and miscellaneous illustrations scanned from old books.
Agapanthus aka Mt Eliza leprosy Source
- The Best Copyright-Free Photo Libraries - a post on gov.watch with links to specific public domain (copyright free) government photo libraries.
- PhotoEverywhere UK Free Travel Images Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License – Free to share and remix with attribution. *
- Wikipedia:Public domain image resources includes links to sites of historical images, 2,600 realist painters (many in the public domain), copyright expired visual artworks, scanned images from old books, logos, stamps, US government sites as well as general collections.
- wellcome images -
2000 years of human culture Usage: unless otherwise stated – Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial version 2.0 or Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales
Crystals of a DNA repair protein bound to DNA
Personal Photo Sites
Personal sites where images are offered for download free of charge:
- PD photo.org contains public domain photos taken by the site’s owner, Jon Sullivan who also has a blog, aptly titled, Jon Sullivan
John reminds us that if an image is in the public domain then it must stay there. You cannot claim it as your own nor add any extra restrictions on its use. He also advises that it is wise to assume that no model release has been given for commercial use; unless stated otherwise or indicated by its Creative Commons Licence.
Future posts in this series will include image search engines, directories of free image sites, where to find low cost images, useful image tools and Firefox image tools. I know because most of them are written already
* New sites added since original post. Last update: 17 July 08