3 Tips For Finding Free Stock Photos and Graphics
If you’re in a position where you find yourself making a lot of graphics and blogs, then you’ve probably run into a common problem. You’re on a stock photo website that you thought was free, you’ve picked out the perfect image…but then bam! It turns out that image of the beautiful fall leaves you needed is somewhere between 30 and 150 dollars. You don’t have that kind of budget, you’ve wasted time you didn’t have to begin with, and are left wondering: where are all the free photos?!
Next time you get stuck, try out some of these tips for finding free images and graphics.
Tip 1: Refine Your Google Search
Once you search images, you can click on search tools → usage rights → Labeled for reuse with modification. This naturally whittles down your results amount but there are often some great finds!
Tip 2: Check Opensource Clipart For Graphics
If you’ve thought of it, chances are someone else has thought of it too.
https://openclipart.org/ is a great website for free simple graphics that can help spice up images for blogs and social media. http://www.clker.com/ is another great opensource clipart website. Clkr has a lot of ads to scroll through but does a great job at finding 1,000s of free graphics. http://www.vecteezy.com/ is a great resource for vector images. The site divides your search by free and premium. The premium comes with a price but there is plenty of great, free, content that is easy to download.
Tip 3: Make a Favorites Folder of Stock Photo Websites That Have Search Bars
There’s some great websites on stock photos out there but if you can’t search the site for specific topics, they’re going to waste your time. Searching through a 100 gorgeous indie photos is not going to help you find the stock image of a delivery guy that you needed five minutes ago.
My Go-To List:
- MorgueFile: Morguefile has a great, searchable database of photos that are absolutely free. You can pick the size, download them without any risk to your computer, and at no cost. http://www.morguefile.com/
- Pixabay: Pixabay offers multiple ways to search for stock images. My favorite feature is the search for vector graphics (images without backgrounds) which are super easy to layer onto existing graphics. This site does require you to signup but does not cost money. The one downfall is that they started including Shutterstock images recently. As a general rule, don’t get your heart set on those, they are never free. However, the greater majority of Pixabay is. http://pixabay.com/en/photos/
- Canva: Canva is an amazing free graphics maker in general. It allows you to work from templates sized for various social media platforms ahead of time. They have a ton of free photos that you can add to your graphics directly in the program. The drawback is, some of the more specific graphics are a dollar. However, a dollar is usually significantly less than what you would be paying for a stock image in the first place. https://www.canva.com. (UPDATE as of JULY 31, 2015: Canva wrote a great blog post with 74 best sites to find awesome free images. Worth checking out).
- Free Stock Range: Free Stock Range is a searchable database with lots of photos to choose from. Once again, as a general rule, avoid shutterstock images. However, this website separates the shutterstock search results and the free stock search results so you are less likely to get confused. You do have to make an account with them to sign up but when you do, the photo is free. http://freerangestock.com/new_photos.php
- Image After: Image After is a free, searchable, stock photo website that does not require any sort of registration. You just search for the image you want and then download that image. In terms of content, it is slightly more limited than other sites, but when you need something basic, it is easy to get in and get out quickly. http://www.imageafter.com/
- Raumrot: Raumrot is a little different from the others. It is not as easy to search because it is broken down by categories instead of tags. But it is still useful because the photos they choose to showcase are all very high quality and there is no sign up required. So if you have the time, this is a great website for free photos. http://www.raumrot.com/10/ If you find that you like the artistic style of Raumrot, there is a big list of similar websites here: http://www.freeforcommercialuse.net/13/
- Flickr: Did you know that you can search Flickr by a creative commons license which you can specify is for commercial use? This is a really useful feature in finding high quality photos. The only catch to Flickr is that most artists ask you give photo credit. So though you would not want to use it for ads, it is great for blog and social media use. https://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/by-2.0/
- Foodie’s Feed: If you are looking for stock images of food specifically, this site is perfect. The images are gorgeous and easy to download. There is no sign up and no special catches. http://foodiesfeed.com/
- Public Domain Archive: This is a good site to keep an eye on as it continues to grow. The photos are 100% free for use. You can use a search bar to search or search by categories. And you do not need an account to download any of the pictures. You can use them as you please. My only critique is that the site has a very small selection. Though, it does continue to grow each week. http://publicdomainarchive.com/
- RGB Stock Photos: I’ll end with one I consider the best. This website does require registration but it only requires a username and email. It is fully searchable, has a great variety of photos, and is completely free. http://www.rgbstock.com/
If you know where to go, finding free stock images does not have to be a frustrating, time consuming process. There will be times when you need something highly specific and need to pay; in which case I recommend Shutterstock or Corbis Images. However, for the most part, if you just need basic pictures, there are plenty to choose from out there that are free and easy to obtain.
Your turn. Where do you go to get great free stock images and graphics?
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