There are many free stock photos sites out there and it can be difficult to navigate through them. If you’re using a paid image websites like Shutterstock or iStockphoto, your rights and responsibilities are clear: You pay for the rights to use the image.
However, if you’re choosing to go the free route–and really, why wouldn’t you?–it can be confusing to know how you’re allowed to use the photos, and what are your limitations.
This post will give you a list of 10 sites that offer 100 percent free images for use on your blog or social media posts. And the best part? All the sites below offer free images under the Public Domain or the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. This meansno attribution (link) is required.
In case you’re unfamiliar with copyright categories, here’s a brief overview of the three main types:
Public Domain–Images in the public domain are works whose copyrights have expired or whose creators have relinquished all rights to the works. These are free for personal or commercial use. There is only one exception to the “free for all use” policy for public domain images: If you’re using an image of a recognizable person, you may need to get his or her permission to use the photo. Some sites offering such photos will already have obtained a model release, so if in doubt, consult the license agreement that comes with the image.
Royalty Free–When images are offered royalty-free, this simply means that the purchaser pays a fee and can then use the image without paying additional royalties or licensing fees. This also means the purchaser doesn’t have to give attribution. This is the model used by paid stock photo sites.
Creative Commons–Photographers who license their images under Creative Commons (CC) can choose how their images will be used by specifying a particular CC license. For instance, a CC0 license means the owner has relinquished all rights to his or her works, while CC 2.0 requires the user to provide attribution.
CC0 is the most flexible license by far: “CC0 enables scientists, educators, artists and other creators and owners of copyright or database-protected content to waive those interests in their works and thereby place them as completely as possible in the public domain, so that others may freely build upon, enhance and reuse the works for any purposes without restriction under copyright or database law.”
Please note that the sites listed below are all either public domain or creative commons, and none require attribution. I’ve done our best to specify which license each site uses. However, please do your due diligence before using images from the sites below, particularly if plan to use them for commercial purposes.
Creative Commons 0 (CC0) and Public Domain image sites.
Unsplash–10 new high-quality images released every 10 days. Released under the CC0 license.
Foodie’s Feed–High-res free food images. Free to use without attribution; however, the may not be resold.
Death to the Stock Photo–Free images for commercial use. Delivered monthly to your inbox. You do not have the right to claim these free images as your own.
Magdeleine–One free high-res photo every day (and access to a full repository of images). Use the handy filter to find images that are either public domain or require attribution.
Public Domain Archive–All images are completely free for personal or commercial use, no link or attribution required. I personally use this for my latest startup Duefor some of the amazing whitepaper images that we’re putting together for the big launch.
Good Free Photos– Public domain images taken by the owner of the site. Offers some good location-based images.
Free Range Stock–Free high-res images, registration required. It is suggested you link back to the site and give credit to the photographer, but it isn’t required. You cannot resell, distribute, or claim ownership of the images.