43+ Free Blog Images Sources: Where to Get Royalty Free Photos

43+ Free Blog Images Sources: Where to Get Royalty Free Photos

Photo collage in shape of a copyright symbol

Credit: ©Depositphotos/kaetana

Every blogger eventually wants to use images in their posts. They attract attention and make them more shareable on social networks including Facebook and Pinterest.

But free images aren’t really free on most sites. If you’re a new blogger I’m sure you’ve found this very confusing because royalty free images are heavily promoted as free when they usually are not.

You have to BUY most royalty free images!

Royalties are paid PER USE or per volume sold, so the images you find on royalty-free sites are free of ROYALTIES but usually charge a one time use fee in either currency (money) or credits (which you buy – so still money).

There are many sites that offer images for free – and sometimes they actually have some totally free images – for some purposes – among those you have to pay a licensing fee to use. Here are the best known image sites:

  1. 123rf
  2. Alamy
  3. Bigstockphoto
  4. Canstockphoto
  5. CorbisImages
  6. Crestock
  7. Depositphotos
  8. Dreamstime
  9. Fotolia
  10. Fotosearch
  11. FreeDigitalPhotos.net
  12. FreeVector
  13. Getty Images
  14. Images.com
  15. Image Source
  16. istockphoto
  17. Jupiter Images
  18. MasterFile
  19. MorgueFile
  20. Pond5
  21. PhotoPin (searches iStockPhoto)
  22. Photos.com
  23. Photo Stock Plus
  24. PunchStock
  25. Shutter Point
  26. ShutterStock
  27. SuperStock
  28. SuperStock.co.uk
  29. ThinkStockPhotos
  30. Veer

Note: AbleStock and StockXpert was bought out by Getty and no longer sells files. Mentioned here for anyone who might be searching for them.

Free Blog Images Are Usually NOT Free

Photo copywright photograph

Some images ARE free of cost in monetary measures but require attribution and /or a link to the source, photographer or creator. Those are actually what many bloggers would call free.

Others are advertised as free – but you have to pay a one-time use fee to the site where you acquired them. Those are what are called Royalty Free.

Unfortunately, there is no way to simply explain when images are free to use versus when you have to pay for them. For that you’ll have to visit each site and look at their terms.

One of the best graphs that illustrates how different uses are
permitted or prohibited is this Photo Acceptable Use Graph.

One very gray area is for blogs. If you have absolutely no ads – not even AdSense – and no affiliate links, paid reviews, paid posts or any other ways of making money your blog would be personal use only.

But if you DO have any of these things – then your blog could be considered commercial use – even though your earnings are meager.

Many bloggers are now taking their own photos or creating their own images – or they buy a subscription to one of the above sites and buy images for their posts.

Some sites even prohibit letting another blogger you know use credits they bought to acquire an image for you – so be sure to read the terms and be careful of running afoul of copyright laws.

Using Celebrity Photographs

Attorney Danielle Liss advises Tiffany at The SitsGirls that the safest way to acquire a celebrity photo is to do a screen capture from a video. For full details, read Is Using Celebrity Photos on Your Blog OK?

See also eHows’ Celebrity Copyright Law.

Totally Free Images for Blogs

How to find free images to use in blog posts

Credit: ©Depositphotos/LuMaxArt

This tip comes to us from prominent blogger Kristi Hines who is also a photographer herself. The one place you can definitely find free photos and images to use is Flickr IF you know how to search.

Kristi suggests going to Flickr Advanced search – and this is important – be sure to check the Creative Commons Box at the bottom.

Shawn Hessinger recommends also checking the “find content to use commercially”box in the Creative Commons section.

Freelance Graphics Designer Louise Myers shared via Twitter that using Flickr images was “Too risky for me. People may post stolen images and say they’re OK to use.”

FREE Images WordPress Plugin

Brian Wallace, President of NowSourcing Infographic Design, offered this excellent tip for taking the pain out of dealing with sourcing images for your blog posts:

Flickr is a safe bet for using images.  By default, user uploaded content is set to all rights reserved.  If you perform an advanced search and set to only search for Creative Commons content, you’re safe with an attribution.  There’s a WordPress plugin for this called PhotoDropper that does the heavy lifting for you.”

Verify Photo Ownership

Remember that no matter where you find an image the person who posted it there might not own the rights to it. You can use these resources to verify ownership.

Copyright Law

FREE Photo Sites

  1. NEW: HobbiesOnaBudget Free Images for Blogs
  2. EveryStockPhoto – searchable by type of free license
  3. FreePik
  4. FreeVector
  5. Creative Commons Free Photo Search
  6. Sxc.hu aka Stock.XCHNG (now owned by Getty Images)
  7. Best FREE Photo Sites: The Most Recommended Free Image Sites
  8. Where to Find Free Legal Images for Blogs
  9. Free Public Domain Images to View, Copy or Download

FREE Icon Sites

  1. Free Stock Icons (Found ALL free icons here.)
  2. Icon Archive (Found the most free icons here.)
  3. FreeIconsWeb (Some free for personal use; some Creative Commons 3.0; mixed licensing here)
  4. Find Icons (appears to be a search engine to sell royalty free icons)

(An icon is a smaller image usually 128×128 or less that is used on a site for email, RSS feeds, social buttons, etc. Many are hi-res and could be resized and used as images in posts.)

Know of any other places to get totally free images?
Tell us in the comments!

Stock Photography Comparisons

Stock Photo Price Comparison Engine

Photo Images News

How to Sell Photos

Photography Related Directories

Trademarked Images

How to Add Images to Blog Posts

22 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Gail,
    Two things I’d add here. First, to further refine your search on Flickr, I’d recommend checking the “find content to use commercially” box in the Creative Commons section. Also, a Website I would add to your list (because it is getting better and better) is morgueFile. It depends on the type of image you are looking for, but guidelines for reuse are very liberal on most of these photos. Check it out.

    • Thanks for your suggestions, Shawn. I really appreciate them.
      As for you, Gale, I think I’d better say nothing. You’d already know how valuable a service you’ve done for the bloggers who are in bitter need of images for their blogs, but hate abusing copyright.
      Thank you!

  2. I run a site that has millions of free images where the images are all free. However since it’s a compilation of listings it does take a little time to look through them, but give me a visit and check it out if you like..

    • Hello,

      I visited your site, but it is not obvious at all how one might find any free images on it. If you update the site to make it more clear whether someone has to join to see the images or how the site works and let me know I can add you to the sites listed in this post.

  3. Hi Gail, very good and interesting article; and much needed. It’s the first time I understand the difference between commercial and personal websites.

    For images I usually use Zemanta functions and SXC, sometimes MorgueFiles to be as safe as possible. There isn’t an enormous choice but they’re really free.

    Have a great weekend!

    • Thank you, Andrea,

      I just updated this post with even more resources. Understanding image ownership, what you can use, what you can’t use – I doubt that any bloggers truly understand all of it. Be sure to keep a copy of this post handy for future reference.

  4. You’re welcome, Sharon. I update key posts with the best resources as I come across them. Another blogger we know mentioned your post somewhere. I can’t remember where.

  5. Thanks for the great article. I’m a beginning hobby blogger and spend way too much time searching for great graphics that I’d rather spend writing, so I appreciate this immensely. It’s daunting when they’re not cheap and you don’t have a budget for graphics. I found 123rf.com to be the most affordable so far. I tried PhotoDropper but the balloon doesn’t work right and their CS never responded. I’m still a little confused about Pinterest or graphics shared on Facebook. Do you know if we can use these if we link them back to the owner’s page? Or are they the property of those services in regards to sharing? Thanks again!

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