Updated: March 7, 2020 (originally published Dec 14, 2013).
Here are some sources of creative commons images (free to use). You should always provide an attribution to the image, which usually includes the photographer, the license, and the source (see below for legal concerns).
My current favorites for Creative Commons images
- Unsplash – beautiful free images
- Pexels – free for commercial use – nice site!
- Visual Hunt – a very nice Creative Commons search engine!
- PikWizard – free for commercial use
- Foter – 335 million stock photos
- Creative Commons search engine
- Pixabay – “Free high quality images you can use anywhere”
- Photos for Class – these are mostly flickr images, with attributions automatically added to the bottom of each image (the attribution can be cropped from the image and placed elsewhere on the page.)
- Flickr – select the desired license in the dropdown.
For inexpensive stock images, try
- 123RF – currently $1-3 for website-sited images. The minimum payment is $20 worth of credits (select last option). Note that under the standard license, High Peaks Media can purchase and license the images for use on a website on behalf of a client, but we cannot transfer the images to the client.
- Fotosearch.com offers individual images starting at $3.
For social media image editors, with free background images
If you are searching for an image for your WordPress blog, try Creative Commons image plugins (summary by Elegant Theme), including Image Inject and others. Elegant Themes also published Beautiful Imagery For Your Website: What It Is, Where to Find It, & How To Use It, as a resource guide to finding creative commons images.
Reverse Image Search, to see where an image has been used before, try
- tineye.com (reverse image search)
Please note the legalities of using images from the internet on your site, especially photos! Some excellent posts on this topic are below:
- The Best Ways to Be Sure You’re Legally Using Online Photos, an excellent all around article about using online photos, from Life Hacker.
- Copyright Fair Use and How it Works for Online Images, excellent on Fair Use, from Social Media Examiner
- Photography and Copyright Law, part I, from the blog of Ken Kaminesky.
- Law and Etiquette for Using Photos Online, by social media attorney Sarah Hawkins.
- Fair Use, a good summary, from Wikipedia
- Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act (US code, from the Cornell Law School), and Wikipedia discussion
On Referencing Web Materials
- Referencing Made Easy – an account can be used with a Chrome extension to generate quick references. Also see the Free Tech for Teachers post.
Other search engines (sometimes yielding images from mixed-license and free/paid sources)
- Google images search; after the initial search, use the menu option Tools > Usage Rights > [select the usage option
- Wikimedia Commons
- Compfight – also a nice CC search engine!\
- Flickr Creative Commons Group
- Bing Images, enter your search term, then use the “license” menu to select required criteria.
Sources of free images include (often licensed by the source site)
- StockSnap – Free Creative Commons Images
- Morgue File
- Free Digital Photos .net
- Every Stock Photo – A Search Engine for Free Images
- Best Stock Agencies for … Free photos – this is interesting – most are presented above.
- 5 best website for free high quality images for any WordPress site
Please share your own tips for acquiring such images!
In a bind and can’t find a creative commons image? Check this site for some inexpensive stock photos: 5 Most Popular Sites to Buy Cheap Stock Images
Image Attribution: By john randell [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons