License-Free Images 101: What They Are and Where To Find Them

by Emily E. Steck

License-Free Images 101: What They Are and Where To Find Them

When it comes to choosing images for your lists, it can’t be as simple as typing it into Google and right-click save. Why not? Because technically, this is theft. No one wants to be a thief, but how do you find good images? In the ever-murky world of online publishing, the answer is to find license-free images.

All images have copyright laws. Certain ones secure that the photographer or artist has exclusive rights to its use and distribution. For you and me, it’s like buying and owning home with complete control. We can rent it, we can make changes, we can sell it to whomever we like it; we have complete control. Unlike us homeowners, however, artists receive compensation for their effort and for the license they hold over the work. Sometimes, with royalties, where the money keeps flowing.

So where does that leave us publishers if images have copyrights? We look for license-free images. License-free images often have conditions that need to be considered. On a positive note for publishers, they are royalty-free images, which allow publishers to use copyrighted material without the need to pay license fees or royalties for each use.

As an independent blogger or publisher, finding license-free images can become quite the task. However, many of the works available to use online use a public copyright license, allowing publishers to use the works for free as long as there is proper attribution.

Without further ado, here’s a list compiling some of the best resources on the web for license-free images, made by Quietly’s very own content curators. Happy searching.


50 Resources for License-Free Images

By Emily E. Steck

Scouring the internet for high-res images is time-consuming. Luckily, there are plenty of license-free image databases to find what you are looking for. Here's a list of the best free image finders on the web.

  • Unsplash

    By Emily E. Steck

    With 10 free uploads of high-resolution photos a month, there's a great selection of totally free photos on a variety of subjects. Licensed under [Creative Commons Zero](http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/), you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free (including for commercial purposes) without asking permission. No attribution to the photographer or Unsplash is required, but it's always recommended.

  • Pexels

    By Emily E. Steck

    All photos on Pexels are licensed under the [Creative Commons Zero](http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) (CC0) license. You can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free (including for commercial purposes) without asking permission. No attribution to the photographer or Pexels is required, but it's always recommended.

  • Barn Images

    By Emily E. Steck

    Barn Images offers you a collection of free high-resolution non-stock photography. Licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, attribution is not required but it is greatly appreciated if you link to Barn Images. See site for more details.

  • FindA.Photo

    By Emily E. Steck

    Searching through other free photo databases like MMT, Picography, Life of Pix and more, 

  • Stock Up

    By Emily E. Steck

    Stock Up adds high quality new stock photos from Unsplash, Life of Pix, New Old Stock, Startup Old Stock and more each week. 

  • Flickr

    By Emily E. Steck

    Flickr has the largest collection of photos under the Creative Commons licensing. Be sure to check and cite the photograph properly and it is yours; also check if you can use the image commercially. Quietly also has a Flickr image search tool.

  • Gratisography

    By Emily E. Steck

    Ryan McGuire, a photographer of Bells Design, offers his fun, quirky high-resolution [Creative Commons Zero](http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) images for free personal and commercial use.

  • IM Free

    By Emily E. Steck

    A curated collection of photos from free resources, all for commercial use. It's very easy to for a variety of subjects, including people, business, technology, icons, food and drink, nature, lifestyle and more. Attribution to the photographer is required.

  • Splashbase

    By Emily E. Steck

    A search and discovery platform that sifts through images from the web's best Creative Commons licenses, Splashbase is a great place to start your search. Attribution depends on the license of individual photos. 

  • Picography

    By Emily E. Steck

    Free, high-res images from a variety of photographers. Use and customize the images however you like, even for commercial purposes. Attribution is preferred, but not required.

  • Women of Color in Tech

    By Emily E. Steck

    The photos come courtesy of [#WOCInTechChat](http://www.wocintechchat.com/about/) and are free for anyone to copy, distribute, and display if proper credit is provided under a Creative Commons (Attribution) license. They are stock photography of Women of Color in the tech industry.

  • Cupcake

    By Emily E. Steck

    Jonas Nilsson Lee, a photographer, graciously offers his images to be used freely and without attribution. 

  • Picjumbo

    By Emily E. Steck

    There are no restrictions on use, including attribution. They have a wide range of fantastic high-quality images.

  • Albumarium

    By Emily E. Steck

    Search through Creative Commons images by selecting a "Commericial" license 

  • Designer Pics

    By Emily E. Steck

    Free, high resolution stock images for you to use. No attribution required.

  • Magdeleine

    By Emily E. Steck

    Free to use for personal and commercial projects. Attribution required.

  • Death to Stock Photo

    By Emily E. Steck

    Every month, Death to Stock Photos will email you a new pack of high quality, license-free photos that are yours to keep. Great, gorgeous images available for commercial use.

  • LibreShot

    By Emily E. Steck

    Photographer Martin Vogel offers a collection of beautiful, high-res photos for anyone to use for commercial or other reasons, including tons of macro photography. Image credit is encouraged, but not required.

  • Foodie's Feed

    By Emily E. Steck

    Food bloggers, rejoice—free, high-quality photos in one searchable website. Attribution is encouraged, but not required. You can also sign-up via email for more images every week.

  • Life of Pix

    By Emily E. Steck

    Free, high-quality resolution photos for the price of free. Absolutely no copyright restrictions. Attribution is encouraged.

  • Skitterphoto

    By Emily E. Steck

    License-free, high-quality photos by photographers from the Netherlands, all of these images are free to use and customize, even commercially. 

  • Bucketlistly Photos

    By Emily E. Steck

    A free Creative Commons collection of gorgeous travel photos from Photographer Pete Rojwongsuriya. All photos must be attributed to him and Bucketlistly Photos.

  • Startup Stock Photos

    By Emily E. Steck

    An alternative to cheesy stock photos, this Tumblr of free startup photos is a great place to grab images focusing on open-spaced businesses.

  • Superfamous Images

    By Emily E. Steck

    The best place on the web to find aerial photography and bird's eye shots; images are free to use as long as you credit.

  • MMT

    By Emily E. Steck

    Free for commercial use from photographer Jeffrey Betts with new photos every week focusing on NYC life, nature and more.

  • Get Refe

    By Emily E. Steck

    Perfect for urban vignettes and outdoorsy like images, images are free "real life" images.  A surprisingly large collection; however, you cannot search through. Attribution encouraged.

  • Splitshire

    By Emily E. Steck

    There's such a thing called beautiful, free stock photos. Splitshire allows you to download free high quality photos for commercial use with no copyright restrictions. Attribution is preferred.

  • Little Visuals

    By Emily E. Steck

    Sign up to get 7 hi-res images zipped up in your inbox every 7 days. There is no copyright on the images, so you can you [use them any way you want](http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/). Note that there have been no new updates in over a year. 

  • ISO Republic

    By Emily E. Steck

    Free for personal and commercial projects for creative types, no attribution is required but it is encouraged. 

  • Freerange Stock

    By Emily E. Steck

    Register for free, download high resolution stock photos for free. Totally free. 

  • Move East

    By Emily E. Steck

    Stunning photography of the eastern world through one photographer's eyes. Free to use for personal and commercial use. Attribution is encouraged.

  • Lock & Stock Photos

    By Emily E. Steck

    Licensed under Creative Commons, you'll need to attribute to the [photographer here—](http://ajmontpetit.com/)AJ Montpetit—but it's worth it for the site's odd collection of architecture photos. 

  • Free Photos Bank

    By Carlin Leung

    Free so long as you credit 'em. Pretty decent quality, and download in .zip or .jpg

  • Stokpic

    By Emily E. Steck

    Stokpic uses a custom fully legally-binding license; basically you do anything except redistribute. Attribution is not required, but requested. Be sure to carefully read about the license [here](http://stokpic.com/license/). oEvery two weeks, 10 new high-res photos are sent to you via email or you can search through the site through a variety of verticals.

  • Food Photos

    By Carlin Leung

    Creative commons attribution licensing. Warning, don't go on this around lunch time.

  • Pixabay

    By Elizabeth Rosalyn The

    Your source for free vectors, free drawings and free photos. You can freely use any image without attribution in digital and printed form, even for commercial applications.

  • Free Nature Stock

    By Emily E. Steck

    A plethora of royal-free nature stock photos licensed under Creative Commons Zero. Users can use the photos without permission or attribution and even commercially. 

  • DeviantArt

    By Emily E. Steck

    DeviantArt is the world's largest online social community for artists and art enthusiasts. By searching through Creative Commons, you may use these images as long as you credit the author.

  • Skuawk

    By Emily E. Steck

    Specializing in landscape photography, Skuawk's photos are free to download and use for any purpose. Image attribution is encouraged, but not required (as well as tweeting images).

  • Morguefile

    By Elizabeth Rosalyn The

    This morgue file contains free high resolution digital stock photographs and reference images for either corporate or public use. Contains photographs freely contributed by many artists.

  • Photo Pin

    By Emily E. Steck

    A free tool that helps bloggers and designers find beautiful photos for blogs and websites using Creative Commons licensing. 

  • Photo Everywhere

    By Emily E. Steck

    Free travel photos to download and search for with a convenient map-based search. Attribution is required.

  • The Stocks

    By Emily E. Steck

    Need to sort through images from a few different places in one place? Then use Stocks. It allows you to sort through Pixabay, Unsplash, Little Visuals, New Old Stock, Super Famous, Startup, Gratisopgraphy, GetRefe, Crow the Stone, Pexels, Jay Mantri, Magdeline, Travel Coffee, Move East and Barn Images without leaving your tab. Downside: you can't search for a keyword and pool results from all the sources, just each one individually. **Licenses and attribution depends on the site so take note.**

  • Viintage

    By Emily E. Steck

    Your source for hundreds of thousands of **public domain** vintage graphics. You may download as many low resolution (600px to 3000px) vintage graphics as you like for free; a premium version where you can download unlimited high-res photos per month exists for the price of a $10 monthly donation.

  • PD Pics

    By Emily E. Steck

    Pdpics.com is a repository of thousands of free public domain pictures and photographs. Use these stock photos freely in any project. No attribution is required.

  • New Old Stock

    By Emily E. Steck

    Vintage, often high-res, photos for download from the public archives. Note: the site states its images are free of _known _copyright restrictions.

  • Pickup Image

    By Emily E. Steck

    Pickup image is the largest collections of free photographs. Free download high-quality premium free stock images, public domain photos. You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission. Attribution is requested but not required.

  • Realistic Shots

    By Emily E. Steck

    Free, high-resolution stock photos available for personal and commercial use. No attribution is required, but it is recommended.

  • Stock Light and Pixel

    By Emily E. Steck

    Stock Light and Pixel has been created to provide digital creatives with high-quality images for use wherever, whenever. All images featured on this site are licensed under [Creative Commons Zero](https://creativecommons.org/about/cc0) for commercial or private use without attribution.

  • Raumrot

    By Emily E. Steck

    stockphotosAll available hi-res/hi-quality pictures you can use on personal and commercial projects. Please be respectful to registered trademarks. Attribution is required for photos with a CC: 2.0 license like so: **Photo: Markus Spiske / raumrot.com / CC-BY. Photos licensed as CC Zero require no attribution.**

Image Credit: Chance Agrella via Free Range Stock

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