Free Images

How to find high quality free images for your blog or website.

There are many sources of free images that can be used to spice up your blog. Quality art work, illustrations, and photographs can definitely increase the impact of your web pages. It’s been said that a picture is worth 1000 words. However, finding the right image — one that portrays the main idea of your text — is not always an easy task.

Lady with donuts on each finger. A free image - photo from gratisography. (A collection of free images.)
Lady with sugar glazed donuts on each finger. With so many sweet images to choose from – where do I start?

The donut finger lady (image above) is from Gratisography. They provide free downloads of their image collection. A simple license explains things you can and can’t do with the images. Gratisography is a good source for artistic images with a whimsical perspective.

It’s very important to understand and pay attention to copyright laws and licenses for any images that you use. In this article we’ll focus on finding images that are in the public domain, or covered by the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. Most images are protected by Creative Commons licenses or similar licenses. The license explains specific freedoms, stipulations and restrictions for use.


Unsplash Free Image Collection

Unsplash is one of best free photo libraries — offering over 2 million photos. It’s generally the first resource I recommend to IX Publishing clients who are looking for artwork to complete a website project.

Assorted color pencils - free image from Unsplash
Assorted color pencils via Fanj
Colorful tiles or glazed panels on the walls of Waterloo Museum - in Kitchner, Ontario.
Waterloo Museum via Scott Webb
A single sliced orange in a blue and while bowl.
Sliced orange in blue bowl via Mae Mu

There is no requirement to provide attribution for Unsplash images, but I usually provide a link to the source. Scott Webb is an architectural photographer from London, Ontario. His free photographs have been downloaded over 300,000 times. I’ve recently started contributing a few of my photos.


British Library Public Domain Free Images

In 2013, the British Library placed over 1 million images into the public domain – in a searchable archive on Flickr. These beautiful images were scanned from the pages of 17th, 18th and 19th century books.

View of Drake Island, the Citadel of Plymouth, with Cat Water, Mount Batton and the Sound, from the Cottage on Mount Edgcumbe
View of Drake Island, the Citadel of Plymouth, with Cat Water, Mount Batton and the Sound, from the Cottage on Mount Edgcumbe. Source: British Library image archive.

The British Library image archive contains maps, geological diagrams, beautiful illustrations, comical satire, decorative letters, landscapes, and much more. For example – check out these colorful pig illustrations from a children’s book published in 1859 entitled ‘Precocious Piggy’. Really smart pig art.


Free Images on Flickr

Flickr is one of the largest online image collections. Many of the images on Flickr are copyrighted. (Copyrighted images should never be copied or used — unless you have written permission from the owner). Nevertheless, millions of Flickr images are freely available — in the public domain or the CC0 license. The British Library photostream (as noted above) is one such archive. The Internet Archive Book Images photostream is another example — with over 5.2 million images. The Flickr Commons is another good place to look. The Wylio search engine makes it easy to find Flickr images that are available under the Creative Commons license. Another option is to use the Flickr Creative Commons image discovery service.

Woman playing violin with two children singing
Woman playing violin with two children singing. Public domain image discovered on Flickr.

Pexels Free Photo Gallery

Pexels is similar to Unsplash. All photos can be downloaded and used for free. Attribution is not required. Giving credit to the photographer is not necessary — but always appreciated.

Super-sized mural by Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra.
Super-sized mural by Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra. Photo by Anderson Guerra via Pexels

Pixabay

The Pixabay image archive contains over 2.1 million royalty free stock photos, and over 280,000 free illustrations. The Pixabay license provides plenty of freedom. “All content on Pixabay can be used for free for commercial and noncommercial use across print and digital, except in the cases mentioned in ‘What is not allowed’. Attribution is not required. Giving credit to the contributor (photographer) is not necessary but is always appreciated.”

You can find several photos on almost any topic. Here are 3 examples I found when searching for ‘piano’.

Yellow rose on old piano
Yellow rose on old piano via Marty Cook.
Musical score on piano keys.
Music on piano keys via Steve Buissinne
Right hand playing piano keys. Free images and free photos.
Hand playing piano keys via Free-Photos

Free Images – Summary

We are barely scratching the surface on the millions of free images available on the internet. You can find more details in the related links and resources provided below.

Names and words scratched on the surface of bricks. Millions of free images are available.
Names and words scratched on the surface of colorful bricks. Photo by Dan Foy via Flickr. (Cropped by Doug) – CC by 2.0


Related Links and Resources

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