Where to Find Royalty Free Pictures and Images
I am not a great photographer or illustrator, so to make my blog posts look professional, I rely on royalty free pictures and images.
However, when you are looking on the internet for royalty free pictures and images to use, you must must be mindful of copyright restrictions.
You put yourself and your business directly in harm's way by using someone else's image without their direct permission, which in turn can lead to a hefty fine. And trust me, none of us want that!
To help you, I've compiled this list of royalty free pictures and images for you to use in your online space (however, remember to do your due diligence and confirm that the items are still available for use. It is your responsibility to make sure you can use an image and that you give proper credit as required by the image owner).
One content creator was fined $8,000 for copyright infringement. Read the story and learn steps to avoid this here.
Unless you’ve received express written permission or have purchased the usage rights (and make sure you document with receipts, etc.), you can not use copyrighted photos. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse in this case and you will not get notified to take down an image ahead of time.
So now that I've scared the bejeezus out of you,
where can you find royalty free pictures and images for your blog?
Aside from taking your own, which a lot of content creators do already, you can refer to this comprehensive list of sites that provide royalty free pictures and images that are safe to use on your blog.
With more than 870,000 photos, vector images and illustrations, Pixabay is my hands down favorite site for royalty free pictures and images and, in fact, their website posts the following: “All images and videos on Pixabay are released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0. You may download, modify, distribute, and use them royalty-free for anything you like, even in commercial applications. Attribution is not required.”
You can't make it more simple than that! This is exactly what you want because it requires the least amount of legwork on your part. I have used many of their images in my online content.
As an added bonus, Pixabay also integrates with the popular mobile app, WordSwag (see my featured image on this post … the awesomeness of WordSwag and Pixabay combined!)
This is my next go-to site for images. Under Photo License, they state the following:
It's hard to understand complex licenses that is why all photos on Pexels are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. This means the pictures are completely free to be used for any legal purpose.
- The pictures are free for personal and even for commercial use.
- You can modify, copy and distribute the photos.
- All without asking for permission or setting a link to the source. So that attribution is not required.
The CC0 license was released by the non-profit organization Creative Commons (CC). Get more information about the license on the official license page.
This website is a great resource for your blog with links to other websites that offer copyright free images, too.
3. Morgue File
This site has a nice library and includes a tool to crop and resize the photos you want to use. Just remember to credit the photographer if required. Read through the FAQ's on the site to make sure you follow their guidelines.
4. Free Images
Big selection of images, terms vary from photo to photo. In general, the site wants you to provide attribution as I've shown for this photo for photos used inside of content. When using photos commercially, no attribution is required. So if I used this photo as a background image on a capture page or in a brochure, I would not have to provide a call out for the photographer.
Here you can search Flickr, Wiki-media, and other sites for Creative Commons licensed images. I found this beautiful Ansel Adams image taken for the National Park Services back in the 1930's, and guess what? It's available for use. Wouldn't you like to be able to use such high quality images for your content?
This library includes photos from NASA and the Library of Congress. I find this site somewhat cumbersome to use, and the attribution instructions can be a little confusing, to say the least. But there are TONS of great images, like this one from the Tower of London!
Another great site with beautiful images. The search bar on the top right makes it easy to find photos in the category you are looking for. This photo was in their new images. Perfect for an article about coffee, don't you think?
Generate a variety of custom graphics with your own text on them, including text bubbles, sticky notes, and street signs. Here's a little tag I made in less than a minute, just to try out the interface.
9. Flaming Text
Set your text on fire, make it brushed metal, or try one of dozens of other effects. Here's an image I created in just a couple minutes using the free tools.
10. Cool Text
Similar to Flaming Text, I didn't even change the text of one of their presets, but did mess with the settings a little, added a shadow, changed the color, and so on, just to explore the tool.
Now, this is a fun site. Put yourself, or any other photo on the cover of dozens of different magazines. I took 2 photos used earlier in this post to create two very different magazine covers.
This website has affordable paid images, but also features a section of free images, with clear instructions as to how they need to be attributed, which is why I included it here. They are definitely worth a look.
This site has beautiful photos and illustrations with clear instructions how to attribute photos to the original artist. In fact, it couldn't be easier, since they send you an email with a download link and the exact text you need to use in your attribution. I love the way the categories are setup.
You can search images by color, which is great if you are following a color scheme. Here's what I chose for “yellow” …
15. Free Range
High quality photos. Very large selection. You do have to create a login to download images, but I think that's a small price to pay. These cast iron pans would look great on a cooking blog, for certain!
You can find free images and free background textures here. It's probably the “ugliest” site to get beautiful images from, the interface is not that user friendly, but it does have some beautiful photos and backgrounds.
Another nice catalog of photographs, many set in Europe for a nice change of pace.Totally free.
Lots of landscapes and nature photos from NOAA. I found a this picture of bushels of crabs from Maryland. Pretty iconic for anyone who has been to the Maryland Eastern Shore. The site is not the best organized, but you can find stuff, even if the interface is a little clunky.
I found some beautiful images of food and drink on this site. They also have a collection of clip art images you can use.
20. Good Free Photos
This website has more than 17,000 photos from all over the world. Photos are categorized by place and then are tagged too. So if you were writing a piece on Philadelphia, for example, you could search for location-specific photos. Here's a beautiful photo I found of the Fairmount Water Works along the Schuykill River.
It says right on the home page “Free (do whatever you want) high-resolution photos.” I say, “go for it!” Images are submitted by photographers (both novice and professional) from around the world, and they are simply stunning.
Jay Mantri has beautiful, original images that make a statement. This site, however, does not offer any search options. But I got my hands on this secret link that takes you to the image archives. Shhhh! Don't tell!
23. Little Visuals
This site is no longer updated and has not been since 2013, when the owner of the site passed away suddenly. However the images remain and they are stunning!
This website is easy to navigate and includes a search option for keyword, color, or category. Please note that some of the images are attribution-required, meaning that the image needs to be cited. It’s easy to filter out the CC0 licensed images, or you can use this link.
In a word – Quirky. Gratisography is a site of CO0-protected images by Ryan McGuire, a New York-based artist. The images are off-beat, fun, and (sometimes) just plain weird. This site is updated weekly. I like this industrial image. Not so quirky, but still very cool looking.
As Picography says: “Free high resolution photos. Use them however you like.”
You can use images from SplitShire freely since they are all released under a CC0 license. The only thing you cannot do is sell unedited versions of photos to anyone, and do not give/sell images to third-party stock photo websites.
You can easily search for an image you want using categories or keywords. Every image is cute, unique and high quality.
According to this blog post on The Met's website, the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art just released (as of February 7, 2017) more than 375,000 pieces of artwork from it's collection to use without restriction. These digitally cataloged works of art can be found using the following instructions:
“To help find these images on our website, we've added a feature that allows users to filter searches to only those works that we believe are public domain; all of these Open Access images are marked with the CC0 logo on their respective object page.
Alongside the images, we're also making available under CC0 each artwork's key information, otherwise known as tombstone data—title, maker, date, culture, medium, and dimensions—on all 440,000 artworks that the Museum has digitized to date; this data is now available as a downloadable file on GitHub. By making this information available in a clear, machine-readable format, we are making it easier for the world to search for, play with, and explore the breadth and depth of the Museum's collection. (We don't yet have an API, but we're working on it!)”
Just click the link in the title and you will get access to the main Met archive. You can search their collection of royalty free pictures and images from there.
All kinds of royalty free pictures and images are available on this site. Usage terms for Superfamous images are as follows:
“The Superfamous Images are available under the conditions of a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. This means that you can use the work for your own purposes if credit is provided.”
The site consists mainly of landscape images, but they are very dramatic and quite beautiful. Here's an image I found that I liked:
31. Foodies Feed
Need photos of food? Check out Foodie's Feed, which has pictures of all kinds of food. There is a paid option which allows you access to bundles, with such names as Coffee, Fruit, Pasta, Farmer's Market. I recommend you explore the free options first, then work out if the paid option is right for you and your content.
Yet another site on which to search for, and find, beautiful public domain photos.
These images can not be modified, but as you can see from this post, many of the images included here have also not been modified. Here's just one beautiful example of what you can expect from this Australian site.
Now that you have access to all these great images, put them to use building your blog and social media channels. Instagram is a great place to use images. Get access to my free video training below.