12 Best Free Image Sources for Your Blog
Finding beautiful free images for your blog has become so much easier than when the only option was to pay for stock images. While sites that offer paid plans can be the perfect fit for big organizations it’s a different story for startups, small businesses, and individual bloggers who simply can’t justify paying for images.
Today, there are a growing number of sites that offer images that are in the public domain under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license: “No Rights Reserved”. The brilliant thing about this license is that you can use an image however you choose — which means anywhere and for any purpose, including commercial. You can also crop, edit, and remix the image.
Here’s how Creative Commons explains the CC0 license:
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.
While most of these sites have 100% CC0 images, there are a few that also list images which require attribution. Each site displays/handles this differently so be sure you read the information on the site about how to provide attribution correctly if you choose an image that requires it.
After four years and an impressive journey that began with 10 images on a Tumblr blog, Unsplash is a fantastic source of free high-resolution photos. Today, Unsplash has over 200,000 images, all of which are under the CC0 license.
When searching on a subject you’ll see three relevant collections at the top of the results screen, along with an invitation to view all collections related to your search terms. Below the collections are all images that match your search. Plus, you can scroll infinitely — no having to click onto the next page.
In addition to having gorgeous photographs, Unsplash also has a clean and fast interface. Hovering over an image in thumbnail view gives you the option to add to favorites, add to a collection, or download directly. Clicking on the image instantly displays it fullscreen (there was a time when you’d have to wait for it to open in a new tab). And to get back to the thumbnail view, just click on the fullscreen image.
Although not necessary, creating an account is very much worth doing as you can build a library of your favorite images and create collections, which you can choose to set as either private or public.
Unsplash also offers a nifty Chrome extension — Unsplash Instant — that displays a photo in every new tab you open. You can download the image from within the tab, and if you’re logged in to Unsplash you can add it directly to your favorites.
Kaboom Pics photos are all under the CC0 license. Not only does the site have excellent images but also a great search engine with options for orientation (horizontal or vertical) and the color motif. Kaboom Pics also categorize images by photoshoot, which is great if you’re looking for a number of closely related images. Photos can be downloaded in three sizes: large, medium, and custom width (auto height). A super helpful feature is that every photograph shows the color palette and gives the corresponding hex codes.
Pexels currently has a library of over 30,000 images, all under the CC0 license. When searching you can use a single term or choose to browse popular photos, popular searches, the leaderboard (popular photographers), and photos by color. The popular searches page is especially useful if you’re looking for inspiration.
Gratisography is a site by Ryan McGuire who offers his unique images under the CC0 license. The search function is simple but fast — you can either use the search box or choose a category. New images are added every week and you can subscribe to get alerts of new additions by email.
Pixabay boasts over 1,080,000 free images, all under the CC0 license. The search function offers a number of useful variables after it shows the results: you can filter by popular, latest, or editor’s choice; then filter by orientation, category, size, and color. Pixabay also offers vector graphics, illustrations, and videos.
FoodiesFeed is a niche site that focuses entirely on food photography. There are currently over 800 beautiful food photographs available under the CC0 license. The only word of caution is that spending too long looking through the images could make you feel rather hungry!
Jakub Kapusnak, the man behind FoodiesFeed, explains how it all began:
It was a simple personal project to give away his food photos that started to pile up shortly after he got passionate about food photography.
Skitterphoto is another site that grew out of a personal project. Dutch photographers Rudy and Peter launched the site in 2014 as a space to release their photos under the CC0 license.
Each photograph shows the corresponding color palette, although without specifically naming the color. However, if you click on a color swatch you’ll get a whole page of images that have the same color in their palette — and you can find the 6-digit hex code at the end of the URL of that page.
StockSnap has a large library of images all available under the CC0 license. The search is good as you can filter based on relevance, date, trending, views, downloads, or favorites. You can also search popular categories when looking for inspiration.
Negative Space also offers all images under the CC0 license, has a simple and fast search, and shows related images. You’ll also be shown related Shutterstock images and Adobe ads, none of which are too intrusive.
Magdeleine offers a combination of images under the CC0 license and those under one of the other CC licenses that require attribution. When you hover over an image on the main page or search results page you can see whether or not it has a CC0 license. Each image shows the color palette, but not the hex codes. However, if you hover over the color swatch you can see its name. To get the hex code, head over to ColorHexa, type the color name in the search field and hit enter to bring up the hex code, RGB values, etc.
Picjumbo began as Viktor Hanacek’s personal project — a site to release his own images under the CC0 license. While the majority of the images today are taken by Viktor, Picjumbo carries a growing number by other photographers.
You can search by entering terms or browsing categories. When you pull up an image you like, you’ll also be shown related images and a link to the full collection, available only as part of the premium service.
12. Life of Pix
Life of Pix has almost 200 photographers contributing images, all of which are available under the CC0 license. The search function is quick, and once the results are showing you can filter based on category, color, or orientation. They partner with Adobe and you’ll be shown a handful of Adobe Stock images alongside those in the Life of Pix database.