searching for free images

Last updated August 18, 2019

Why Add A Featured Image?

If you are writing a product review or a post targeting something specific, then an image of your topic makes perfect sense and finding the right image is pretty straightforward. However, there are many times that the topic is more conceptual and you want the featured image to impart an emotive or cognitive flavor.

“What problem am I solving by adding a featured image?”

Featured images are a draw, or lure, like the cover of a book. The image needs to match, make sense, and attract. The featured image is a hook that grabs the reader’s attention and helps to keep them on the page.

Paid or Free?

If you are an artist or have one on staff, then you can have the perfect image created for you. For the rest of us, we need access to photographs and other artwork. You can get stock photos, depending on the source and subscription options, anywhere from .50 cents to $10 each. Paid catalogs are often much larger and better indexed. However, if you are reading this post then you are interested in the free options. Free options are sometimes eclectic, and not indexed as well, so expect to do more searching for the right fit.

Usage Rights and Licenses

Here is a list of sites that have photographs and images that you can use for your website.  Some have images in the Public Domain, some have a CC0 license, and others allow personal or commercial use, but have their own license.

Public Domain:  Images in the public domain are images whose intellectual property rights have expired, been forfeited, or are inapplicable. You can read about public domain works at Wikipedia.

CC0:  Images with a Creative Commons Zero license have had all rights waived to the extent allowed by law.  You can read about the CC0 license at the Creative Commons website.

Per-site License:  You should check the conditions of usage before downloading images from sites that have their own license. The sites listed below allow image use for many circumstances, but your needs may vary.

Note that if the image is a picture of a person then you should check to see if you need a model release.  If the image depicts a trademark or other copyright image then you should acknowledge that trademark and may need other permissions.

I’ve tried to pick sites that have free to use images, without the need for attribution. Also, if figuring out the license terms was confusing or difficult to find, then I skipped that site and did not add it.

Check the license and usage rights of each image you download. Although I’ve tried to be accurate, you are responsible for images you use.  You may want to cite the source of the image or keep notes on image sources for your records.

The List

VisualHuntVisualHuntImage aggregation across multiple CC0 image sites.
ViintageViintageVintage graphics.
UnsplashUnsplashFree high-resolution photos.
UnprofoundUnprofoundPublic domain images contributed by designers.
StockSnapStockSnapBeautiful stock photos.
StokpicStokpicFree stock photos.
Startup Stock PhotosStartup Stock PhotosFree photos for startups, bloggers, publishers, websites, designers, developers, creators, and everyone else.
SplitShireSplitShireFree stock photos and images.
Public Domain ArchivePublic Domain ArchiveEverything you need for your creative projects.
PixnioPixnioHigh-quality copyright friendly images with no restriction for their use.
PixabayPixabayFree images and videos you can use anywhere.
PicographyPicographyFree images to use however you like.
PickupImagePickupImageFree public domain photographs.
Photos Public DomainPhotos Public DomainPhotos and clip art.
PhotoRackPhotoRackFree stock photos.
PhotogenPhotogenQuality, high-res free stock photos, and images.
PexelsPexelsAll photographs are free for personal and commercial use. is a repository of free public domain pictures.
New York Public LibraryNew York Public LibraryPhotos, magazines, and other digital files.
New Old StockNew Old StockVintage photographs from public archives.
MorguefileMorguefileFree images for creatives, by creatives.
Life of PixLife of PixPhotographs submitted by various photographers.
Library of CongressLibrary of CongressThe Library of Congress catalog of prints and photographs has a large number of images organized by collection.
KaboomPicsKaboomPicsFree images of the highest quality.
Jay MantriJay MantriFree photos from Jan Mantri. Make magic.
ISO RepublicISO RepublicFree stock photos for creatives.
ImageBaseImageBaseFree stock images.
GratisographyGratisographyFree hi-resolution quirky photos taken by Ryan McGuire.
GoodFreePhotosGoodFreePhotosA gallery of unique stock photos.
FreeImagesFreeImagesBrowse thousands of free photos and illustrations.
FoodiesfeedFoodiesfeedFree realistic food images in high resolution.
Focus FitnessFocus FitnessFitness, weight loss, and food photos.
CoverrCoverrShort, free videos for your website.
cc0.photocc0.photoPublic domain photos.
BrustBrustFree stock photos powered by Shopify.
1 Million Free Pictures1 Million Free PicturesFree photos that were taken by Toper Domingo.  Public domain.

Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. You will still pay the same amount so there is no extra cost to you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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