You’ve written your blog post but it looks blah without an image. But you can’t take a photo to save your life. What to do?
Here are seven of the best sites out there for high quality, free stock photos.
Flickr Creative Commons – My old standby. Whenever I’ve need an image for a post, I’ve gone into Flickr’s advanced search, selected my preferred Creative Commons license and put in my keyword(s). I’ve found something perfect about 95 percent of the time. Make sure you check what Creative Commons license is being used so that you are not violating the license. I always make sure to credit the photographer, link to the image and also link to the license.
New Old Stock – Visual designer Cole Townsend has scoured the Flickr Commons so you don’t have to. Separate from the Creative Commons, the Flickr Commons is a collection of institutions from around the world that have provided photos from their archives that are free of copyright restrictions. The institutions have determined there is “no known” copyright restriction. In some cases, the images are old enough that they have passed into the public domain; in others, it’s obvious they were property of the agency giving permission to use them.
Death to the Stock Photo – They email you a new batch of stock photos you can use every month! They collect model releases and the like, so just don’t use these images in hate speech or porn or anything like that or they’ll send you a takedown notice. In other words, don’t be a jerk and remember that someone else took these photos for you to use for free. They have their own license, modeled on Creative Commons, and even provide a “plain English” version. They have a premium service as well that provides more photography and helps fund photographers’ work.
FancyCrave – A community of photographers and other creatives who agree to share their images under a CC0 license. You can’t pretend the photos are your work, but attribution isn’t necessary, either (though it’s always appreciated!) Especially cool here are the Photo Packs they put together, giving you a group of images (free or name your price!) under one theme, such as “Emotional People” and “Cinematic Clouds”.
Gratisography – Ithaca (N.Y.)-based visual artist Ryan McGuire provides a terrific variety of offbeat photo illustrations and high-res photography with no strings attached under the CC0 license. Just don’t use them for porn, defamatory posts or to make people look bad – and don’t sell the photo as yours or submit it to another stock photo site. Not too much to ask.
Jay Mantri – This designer (and “burger monster by night,” whatever that means!) shares seven new photos every Thursday under the CC0 license. Gorgeous high-res stuff, free to do with whatever you please. He goes heavy on the black and white, and his photos are without people, so no model releases are needed. Scroll to the bottom and you can join the “Gram Society,” where he offers his picks for seven Instagram photographers to follow every Thursday as well.
Splitshire – Italian photographer Daniel Nanescu shoots and shares these gorgeous high-resolution photos for free and with no restrictions except that you cannot sell the photos or submit them to other stock sites. He even takes requests, though reminds you that he lives in Italy, so he can’t do a flyover photo of Dubai – unless you’re paying for his trip. He even has vector images and videos.